Food for thought‘[...] do not think that good design can make a poor product good, whether the product be a machine, a building, a promotional brochure or a business man. But [...] good design can materially help make a good product reach its full potential. In short, [...] good design is good business.’
Thomas J. Watson Jr., IBM CEO

On creative “un-aired” gems and Russell Brand’s jaw-dropping skills

December 18, 2010, 1:03 AM

Any creative — whether they’re a musician, actor, architect, designer or any other — can tell you that, more often than not, the best things they come up with never get published. And the more commercially you’re involved, the worse it gets. Lone-wolf-like artists might get away with it from time to time, since they’re supposed to be working for their own ego, pleasure, spirit or whatever you want to call it. Or at least that’s the theory. In real life however, even Balzac had to “write” off his debts from time to time.

As a designer, I’ve seen plenty of great ideas that never got out of the agency (“pitching” inside the team is a great way to keep the creative fire burning, but it can lead to frustration sometimes, especially when you’re doing it between more than three good designers), or lost to other lesser ideas due to client’s uninspired choices — unfortunately, we’re not Paul Rand to present just one idea. So by the time you’ve been in the business for a few years, I bet you’ll have quite a collection of great ideas that “never made it”, one reason or the another.

Now, I’ve disliked Russell Brand from the first time I saw him. It was pretty much obvious: a “oh-look-at-my-pretty-hair” attention-whore that probably spent more time in front of the mirror than his girlfriend, the kind of guy that doesn’t have any kind of decency and respect for anything except for his own self-centered ego — thus, the perfect show host, the kind of celebrity two-dime tabloid journalists would not have to invent stories about, they’d have plenty each week. The successful kind.

Having such a good opinion on Mr. Brand (oh, the irony), it was only out of boredom that I watched “Get Him to the Greek“. Even if Russell seemed to just be playing his own self, not a fictional character, I did enjoy the movie. A good popcorn one, not great like “The Hangover“, but still enjoyable enough.

So, cutting it short, I definitely wasn’t prepared for the following effortless, jaw-dropping proof of uncanny acting talent from Russell. This is a raw, behind-the-scene gem, and I doubt that his finished-film performance will top this. Here are the details about how and why we have the pleasure of seeing this:

Famous for his onscreen improvising, Russell Brand has to stick to the Shakespearean text in Julie Taymor’s film The Tempest, where he plays the jester Trinculo. Still, an antic comedian like Brand needs some sort of outlet for his verbal flights of fancy, and so it is that when Taymor asked Brand to expound on his character during rehearsals, he responded with a dizzying, dazzling monologue delivered in character for almost five minutes. Vulture’s got exclusive video of the moment, which rendered Brand’s co-star Alfred Molina practically speechless.

But enough ranting, just see for yourself:

No need to tell you that I’m really looking forward to watching this film, first of all because of Alfred Molina’s class, but now also hoping to see some of the above Russell Brand “magic” in the actual, published film. Being an american one, however, my hopes aren’t very high — American films are so much like “design by commitee” projects.

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Since we’re on the subject, there’s another great British actor that’s usually underrated, Tim Roth. These days he’s ‘conducting’ a TV series called “Lie to Me“, which is already in its third season. He plays the role of a specialist in reaching the truth through applied psychology: interpreting micro-expressions, through the Facial Action Coding System, and body language. I know, sounds boring, but, believe me, you’ve rarely seen such a high-class performance in a TV series (the way Tim walks, tilts his head, grins — all in character — is simply wonderful). Here’s a third’s season poster, as an apetizer:

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LATER EDIT
If you need any more proof that Russell Brand is a smart fellow underneath all that show that he puts on, watch this BBC interview with Jeremy Paxton: Paxman quizzes Russell Brand on the cult of celebrity.

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Credits:
• Russel Brand video via Joshua Blankenship, from NY Mag;
• Thanks Peter for the BBC interview.

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Comments:

Sheesh! Annoyingly cool, this Brand.

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