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Russell Brand: "lawbreaker, line-crosser, madman, genius"

By Katie McLaughlin, CNN
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Russell Brand, Tom Cruise teaming up?
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Russell Brand's sordid past includes drug addiction, arrests and womanizing

  • Brand on marriage: "I love the companionship and the friendship and the consistency"

  • Actor on "Arthur": "Beautiful way of updating a very traditional and archetypal story"

Watch the full interview with Russell Brand tonight. "Piers Morgan Tonight" airs weeknights on CNN/US at 9 p.m. ET and on CNN International at 0200 GMT (Live simulcast), 1200 GMT and 2000 GMT / HKT 2000

(CNN) -- "There's no more skeletons in my closet," Russell Brand told CNN's Piers Morgan. "I live in a haunted house."

On Wednesday's "Piers Morgan Tonight," Morgan introduced Brand as "the man who put the sex, drugs and rock and roll into comedy," calling the comedian "a lawbreaker, a line-crosser, a madman and a genius." Brand, who makes no secret of his shaky past, told Morgan, "They know I'm a junkie. They know I carried on with women. They know I've been in trouble with the police."

The actor also talked to the CNN host about his new movie, "Arthur," a remake of the 1980s classic, his marriage to pop superstar Katy Perry and his thoughts on the royal family.

Brand described his pre-sobriety self in detail, saying he was "a scrawny, retched, ne'er do well -- a twig crow man, scorching across the north London streets, fingerless gloves, outstretched palm, bags of smack in pocket, pipe on the lips."

"I used to hang out with pimps and hookers and junkies and crooks," continued Brand. "But the reality of that life, you know, you can snatch glistening pearls of amusement from it. But when that's your daily life, it's miserable."

Morgan asked Brand if his newfound immense success made him happier.

Russell Brand is 'Arthur'
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"Given that I had an early life that was about like sort of stealing to survive," said Brand, "and having to get on the public transport without paying, and sort of petty incidents, and low-life crime sort of stuff, then yes. It's obviously easier to have money than to be dirt poor. But I think that to say that money brings happiness is reductive."

Morgan argued that Brand getting a California driver's license was a step toward the straight and narrow because "wild rockers can't drive."

Brand, who drives a Range Rover, said he takes driving very seriously and tries "to accept that driving is not a medium in which to express your true nature."

The actor, who married singer/songwriter Perry in October, told Morgan, "I really love married life. I love the companionship and the friendship and the consistency of someone being there."

Morgan asked if there was any truth to the rumors that Brand is teaming up with Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin to make a film version of the stage musical "Rock of Ages." Brand said, "As a man who is married to a person that can often be on another continent, I need to put my marriage first. See if we can work out the schedule in there, and then I'll do it."

"Arthur," hits theatres Friday.

"Obviously, you're replacing a legend," said Morgan. "I mean, Dudley Moore made 'Arthur' this immortal character. Did you have any qualms about taking over such a part from one of your comedy heroes?"

"I hold Dudley Moore in such reverence," Brand said. "I have such strong feelings and affection for the original film. It just felt like a privilege and an honor."

He called the film "a beautiful way of updating a very traditional and archetypal story."

Brand, a recovering alcoholic who played a womanizing drunk, had an interesting way of preparing for his scenes. "I was smelling the bottles of booze to get me into character, 'cause I don't drink anymore as you know.

"I would take the bottles of rum, bottles of tequila, just to evoke the memory."

He called the experience "a distilled, but positive aspect of alcoholism," saying it was like being drunk with the exception of "having to wake up with a terrible headache and a stranger."

Brand said the overall message of the film is that "Arthur is a billionaire, but he's unhappy and he is lonely until he finds love."

When the subject of the upcoming nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton came up, the two Englishmen discussed the monarchy. Brand noted he has been "overwhelmed by patriotism" since moving to the United States.

"I have become sort of seduced by it," continued Brand. "I think those things have contributed to a renewed appreciation for the monarchy; while I still believe absolutely in equality at my core."

Morgan asked Brand what the difference between British and American humor is, and whether the comedian tailors his act for American audiences.

"I think there's a very direct corollary that's based around our language," Brand said. "And I, I certainly don't think it holds true that the American sense of humor is in any way unsophisticated when you think of the geniuses like (Jerry) Seinfeld and (Richard) Pryor."

As for upcoming plans, Brand told Morgan he wishes "to continue being a stand-up comedian, continue to be happy in my marriage and to make sure that when I interact with people, I make them happier."

Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.

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