Russell Brand is a lucky man. Lucky to be alive, to have two movies in the box office top ten, to have married a woman who seems to not be too bothered by his checkered past. A past so checkered — well, I'm not sure I've ever seen a fabric with checks that small. The man has done it all — been an alcoholic, a junkie, addicted to sex (prostitutes a specialty). What is extraordinary about Brand is that he managed to live this life of debauchery before he became really successful. Just when you think he's another showbiz cliché, he really isn't. He may have partied like a rock star, but his hedonism wasn't a result of the trappings of fame. It was about a larger-than-life personality that couldn't seem to handle being a larger-than-life personality.
Brand's story is one of hitting the depths and crawling back up out of them, but he never uses labels. My Booky Wook is not a self-help book. He tells funny or tragic stories about his life and goes on his merry way, letting the reader draw their own conclusions. When he was in rehab for sex addiction, all the doctors wanted to label him bipolar and start filling him with drugs. A recent graduate of a 12-step alcohol and narcotics program, he wasn't supposed to have drugs and politely declined. But he doesn't preach or complain or call the doctors the ridiculous twats that they were. He just tells the story.
"I've never had a sustained period of medication for mental illness when I've not been on other drugs as well. It's just not something that I particularly feel I need. I know that I have dramatically changing moods, and I know sometimes I feel really depressed, but I think that's just life. I don't think of it as, 'Ah, this is mental illness,' more as, 'Today, life makes me feel very sad.' I know I also get unnaturally high levels of energy and quickness of thought, but I'm able to utilize that."
Like many other Americans, Russell Brand has only been creeping onto my radar gradually over the past year or two. His star has exploded here recently, with his marriage to pop star Katy Perry and his more frequent voiceover work and movie roles. He's still an acquired taste, but I don't mind mad Brits, and My Booky Wook is as Mad Dog and Englishman as it gets. Plus, it's pretty damn funny.