Something of a Renaissance man in his native Britain -- a performer who divides his time between screen acting, journalism, radio emceeing, and standup comedy -- Russell Brand trademarked himself via an outlandishly flamboyant, rave-happy persona, sporting the goth-tinged apparel, black mascara, and a bouffant, mile-high hairdo to match. He first entered show business at a tender age, with a portrayal of the gangster Fat Sam in the theatrical version of the kiddie musical Bugsy Malone, then moved into standup comedy, with a series of innumerable appearances on U.K. television (each one underscoring his anarchic image). For a time in the mid- to late 2000s, the press reported that the Channel 4 network was struggling to find the right vehicle to house Brand's larger-than-life personality and schtick; one of the more popular series, Russell Brand's Ponderland, intercut routines by Brand with flip and video archival clips. Brand made history when he signed as an on-air DJ with BBC 6 Music and helped that station drive its listener count through the roof, and as of 2002 began segueing into acting roles in features. Brand made two of his more high-profile appearances as Flash Harry in the boarding school comedy St. Trinian's, and as Aldous Snow, an obnoxious British rocker who whisks the lead character's girlfriend away, in the Judd Apatow-produced romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The movie was a huge hit, and Brand followed it up with a starring role in another comedy, Get Him to the Greek, opposite Jonah Hill in 2010. Brand's would also lend his vocal talents to animated features like 2010's Despicable Me and 2011's Hop. He even payed homage to his British roots with the role of jester Trinculo in Julie Taymor's 2011 adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest, opposite a femaile Prospero played by Helen Mirren. The chemistry between the two English stars would sustain for another film as well, as they reteamed for 2011's Arthur.
In 2010 Brand married pop star Katy Perry, but filed for divorce from her fourteen months later. In 2012 he appeared in the hair-metal jukebox musical Rock of Ages.