In a press conference following the premiere of her new documentary Brand: A Second Coming, director Ondi Timoner (Dig!) said Russell Brand, the film’s subject, wanted to keep the movie from premiering at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival. Timoner said Brand wasn’t happy with the rough cut of of the movie and wanted to block it from showing at the festival altogether. Though Brand wasn’t successful in his attempts, he did cancel his appearances to promote the movie at the festival.
Timoner said that Brand, “Doesn’t like to be filmed for a documentary,” which is strange because Brand was originally going to direct the film that centered on him as he changed from a drug addict to a movie star. Timoner said the initial rough footage that Brand had shot didn’t give her a strong grasp of the story he was trying to tell.
She went on to say that she struggled putting the film together because Brand was very difficult to work with. “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.” The director also conceded that she cut out some parts of the movie for “ethical reasons for Russell.”
Documentary producer Suzie Gilbert (Castro in Winter) was originally signed on to direct the film back in 2008, shortly after Brand’s breakout performance as musician Aldous Snow in the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Timoner was eventually brought on to the project two years ago, making her the sixth director to sign on for the documentary.
On Friday Morning, Brand posted a written statement on his website, explaining why he didn’t appear at the premiere or the ensuing press conference:
Ondi is a very beautiful person and a director of peerless integrity, I suppose what I didn’t consider was that in letting go of the film, I was agreeing to be the subject of a biography. Posthumously this is a great honor but while you’re alive, oddly intrusive and melancholy.
You’d think a narcissist would like nothing more than talking about themselves and their “rags to riches”, “hard luck” story but actually, it felt like, to me, my life was hard enough the first time round and going through it again was painful and sad.
The movie features Brand as well as Stephen Merchant (HBO’s Hello Ladies), director David Lynch (Blue Velvet), Oasis front man Noel Gallagher, director Oliver Stone (JFK), and Brand’s ex-wife Katy Perry, whose own documentary Katy Perry: Part of Me also featured Brand at the end of their relationship.
We’ll have more on SXSW as the week continues.