Russell Brand Tried to Block Premiere of Documentary at SXSW

Russell Brand Documentary
Mary Turner/Getty

At the SXSW premiere of the Russell Brand documentary—“Brand: A Second Coming”—on Friday night, director Ondi Timoner shed light on why its subject suddenly cancelled his appearances in Austin earlier in the day.

At a Q&A session after the film, Timoner said that Brand struggled with a rough cut of the film he saw. She said that in January, Brand became so uncomfortable with the idea of the film opening SXSW, he tried to block its release at the festival.

Timoner said she turned for help to Janet Pierson, the head of SXSW film, who told her that the festival was founded on the idea of freedom of speech, and reassured her they would show the film.

“Working with Russell Brand was difficult,” Timoner said. “He tried to control every situation … I really wanted to work with Russell and make him happy, but I also needed to protect the film.”

She added: “He doesn’t like to be filmed for a documentary.”

The doc started seven years ago, when Suzie Gilbert approached Brand with the idea (the late Albert Maysles was going to co-direct it with her). Timoner said she that when she boarded the project two years ago, she was the sixth director attached.

She said that before she was involved, Brand tired to direct it himself, and she couldn’t make sense of the footage he showed her. “I was upset the magic wasn’t in the rough cut I saw,” said Timoner, who didn’t previously know about Brand other than as the ex-husband to Katy Perry.

Timoner told Brand that she would direct the film, but she wanted creative control. It wasn’t clear from her answers to fan questions how much control she really had (the film was financed by 21 individuals and not Brand). “There are a couple of things I took out for ethical reasons for Russell,” Timoner conceded.

On Friday morning, Brand released a statement on his Web site about not appearing for his SXSW premiere or panel presentation. “I’m told the film is good, but for me watching it was very uncomfortable,” Brand said in a written post.

Timoner said she didn’t know about Brand’s decision to cancel his visit until earlier in the day.

The Q&A ended with Timoner asking the audience to stand for an ovation. She then took a picture on her phone and said she was going to send it to Brand.

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  1. Mekki says:

    I love Russell Brand. I cant get enough of him. And this ‘cant take my eyes off’ business-usually means the subject matter is about to explode in popularity. That having been said i loved every book. Every stand up and every thing ive ever seen him do. Unfortunately, easy humor usually means that comedian has spells of SUPER low moments. So its not surprising that he cannot settle on good cuts of the docu.

  2. Dennis says:

    Remind me again, what is it exactly that Russell Brand does?.

  3. yes says:

    this all feels like a wannabe celebrity is getting old. sorry mr brand got mixed up on it.

  4. philohio says:

    Who cares what an..
    Never mind.

  5. The Big Question for me was: Why on earth would anyone consider Brand important enough for a docu? Even Lassie would be more suitable…

  6. ezfootball says:

    I can’t stand the guy, but go and bash him at a panel. Tasteless. You got involved knowing his reputation, I assume, and more or less attack him. Then ask for a standing ovation for a selfie. I know it said to send to Brand, but that is still self centered feeling to me.

    • CNU says:

      She was specifically asked about it, mostly likely due to Brand’s very public announcement that he would not be attending the showing. As for self centered, that would be Brand, after wasting the time of 6 directors over 7 years with the money investors on the line, he tries to kill it’s premier because the documentary of his life didn’t ignore all the shitty stuff he’s done. Seems to me he has the cash to fund his own documentary and stick in all the unicorns and rainbows he wants.

  7. Justine says:

    From what I have seen Ondi T really has managed to promote herself above all things, of which this is the latest example . . Her resume is pretty slight and she should focus on her work and not more self promotion . A forced standing ovation is the tackiest and most false thing I have heard of even in Hollywood .

  8. Tom Siebert says:

    Russell Brand in his current paradigm is brave and admirable. But I can certainly understand why he might be humiliated by his past, chronicled via unblinking documentary. Brand is smart and can be very, very funny. I’m sure he will cling to his fringe perch, making small dents against The Permanent Establishment, of which he is apparently the current court jester.

  9. I have never thought Russel was very funny but he can act. I get the notion he is hard to work with from that article. He should chill out and enjoy his ride even if someone else is holding the reigns for him.

  10. Zeke says:

    It’s a smear piece. How would you feel if a group of people paid a film crew and director to follow you around under the guise of a documentary and then you found out that there was a hidden agenda to make you look terrible. Imagine how much out of context material you could compile over 7 years. You could make anyone look like hitler.

  11. srvwp2013 says:

    Russell Brand is a waste of all the elements that keep him alive on the planet.

    • Pot, meet kettle says:

      Certainly no more of a waste than a self-righteous keyboard warrior such as yourself, that’s for damn sure. For Brand and his schtick, regardless of whether or not he’s everybody’s cup of tea, at least he manages to actually get PAID for the things he does–which is, no doubt, more than you can say for yourself LOL! But how is the air up in that ivory tower of yours?! One would think that such exorbitant rent is impossible for someone as pathetic as yourself to make from month-to-month, especially with all the money you DON’T make for being as ‘worthless’ as Brand.

  12. Jason says:

    This guy has been and always will be a unfunny loser. And this ugly freak had Katy perry ? Wow

    • cass says:

      Haha, I know right. Cause she’s the holy grail of attractiveness as a vapid, pop star while he’s a brilliant, activist trying to change the world. You’re the prime example and result of media brainwashing.

  13. shemitch says:

    Wow- forced standing ovation, huh. That’s so sad and desparate. Ondi seems to be the probelmatic one moreso that Russell. You don’t talk bad aboiut someone else previous work you’ve been called in to , just come in and do your job, fixing whatever needs to be done and that’s it! Don’t get upset about there be no magic-put it in there! And one more thing; if he doesn’t liked to be filmed for a doc, then why are you doing it?

  14. Brett says:

    Russell Brand is about as funny as a school bus fire. He’s a whiney little diva. Why is he relevant??

  15. Lisa says:

    It makes me think less of her as a filmmaker that she has to bad mouth her subject. She took the job. So now she’s talking about the footage before she came aboard? That lacks professionalism, IMO. And her trying to turn his screw by getting the audience to stand as if getting approval for a film she did…hope she doesn’t work for a while.

    • squck says:

      Less of her as a filmmaker? Why? She simply stated that Brand gave her and anyone else with the film a hard time making it—why jump on her for telling the truth? And he’s not a filmmaker himself,either. I’ve never really liked Brand that much–he always came off to me as someone who’s just getting over because of his British accent, and is really a d***, and it’s been working for him,since. He always struck me as being all about himself,anyway—-wasn’t surprised when he and Perry got divorced—he honestly never seemed like the marriageable type in the first place.

  16. Russel is seriously a smart man. Just sounds like it’s hard for him to see his past or accept it. Doesn’t sound difficult to me. Maybe when he signed on to this project he was in a different head space. I would feel uncomfortable if there was a documentary of my life. He didn’t say not to go see it.

    • JMF says:

      “She said that in January, Brand became so uncomfortable with the idea of the film opening SXSW, he tried to block its release at the festival.”

      No, he didnt tell people not to see it, he skipped right to trying to get the film blocked.

  17. Kenmandu says:

    RBI is very overrated and became boring once the shock value wore thin.

  18. Stan Gary says:

    Asking for a standing ovation? Tacky!

  19. notspock the corrector says:

    Can I too shed some light on his no show? Because millions of people in the UK saw that he was presenting comic relief ( a major charitable event in the country) last night, live on television, I guess in some way, he helped them raise some of the 79 million pounds they made.

  20. Lucifer says:

    Russell Brand is a talentless twit, the fact that so many people wasted nearly a decade on documenting his life is a complete joke.

    • Steven Burgas says:

      No, in fact, he is remarkably bright and talented, albeit not everyone’s cup of tea. He won’t appeal to the less intelligent, for instance.

      • Lucifer says:

        Yes, I must be an unintelligent, knuckle-dragger because I do not like Brand. I’ve agreed with several things he’s said, but also he’s said ridiculous things far too often and that is why I do not care for him. I’m sorry if that offends you and the other minions.

      • GKN says:

        Yes, he is smart – his main problem, for we can see here yet again just how much smart comedy flies over people’s heads. And how many heads. And how venomous it makes them, though fans of low-brow humor rarely get insulted so ferociously… Nobody’s forcing you to watch what you don’t like or don’t get. How ’bout a little live and let live, folks?

      • Jim Murdoch says:

        And how intelligent was his juvenile, un-called for treatment of Andrew Sachs (Manuel from Fawlty Towers) on the radio show with Jonathan Ross. In real terms the arrogant sh*t should have been tarred and feathered for that little stunt alone…. Sorry, but he’s a waste of skin.

      • JD says:

        Brand is so smart. He gets a bad rap in America because his coming out party with a few bad movies and a relationship with the popstar… But dig a little deeper… he is a brilliant thinker

  21. mwblock says:

    This statement is inaccurate, “The Brand doc started 7 years ago, when Oliver Stone and the late director Albert Maysles approached Brand with the idea.” The project called “Happiness”was the sole and original idea of Suzie Gilbert who in 2008 was Oliver Stone’s assistant. This was to be her directing debut. She had the idea of bringing in Albert to shoot and co-direct. Oliver, was to executive produce. The film was looking at “happiness” and that was the original title. Russell and his management proved to be a challenge. I dropped out before Suzie started filming. I have the original pitch packets.

  22. axzl says:

    Why is this guy even working, much less being the subject of a documentary?

  23. arteatromexperu says:

    Reblogged this on Arteatromexperu's Weblog.

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