Remaking a movie or TV series without giving it a new spin rarely results in a quality product. Just watch Jude Law’s “Alfie” and Steve Martin’s horrible “Pink Panther,” two cringe-worthy films that immediately come to mind. Therefore, it’s somewhat of a relief that he upcoming reboot of the hit 1981 classic comedy “Arthur” is going in a different direction. Well, at least it appears that way according to star Russell Brand.
The original “Arthur” was the Oscar-nominated role of British comedian and actor Dudley Moore who played a privileged alcoholic playboy being forced to marry a New York socialite to keep his $750 million inheritance. John Gielgud won an Academy Award for his role as Arthur’s supportive valet and Liza Minnelli the everyday waitress he truly falls for. The charm in Dudley’s performance was how he endeared sympathy from the audience over such an obnoxious character. On the other hand, the less said about the film’s 1988 sequel, “Arthur 2: On the Rocks,” the better.
Almost 30 years later, Warner Bros. is remaking “Arthur” and has brought Brand, best known to American audiences for his role in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” hosting the MTV Video Music Awards and being Mr. Katy Perry, to refashion the story for a new generation. Speaking to Brand while he discussed his upcoming comedy “Get Him to the Greek,” the actor reveals he has a personal connection to the Moore, who died of progressive supranuclear palsy in 2002.
“I am looking forward to playing Arthur because I love Dudley Moore and my dad is from the same place as him, Dagenham, and I am from like 10 miles away from there, Grays,” Brand says.
One of the biggest changes in the new “Arthur” is Gielgud’s character is becoming a nanny who will be played by none other than Helen Mirren. Brand jokes it was because of his personal preference for women, although that hardly seems the case for the classy casting. As for Arthur’s love interest…
“The love interest that role will be reprised by Liza Minnelli. She will be revisiting the role and I am going to have an onset romance with that woman. I’m gonna turn her spin to chalk,” Brand says with a straight face as the press burst into laughter. “The role has actually been taken by the brilliant actress Greta Gerwig from the film “Greenberg” with Ben Stiller. She’s a very wonderful actor and I’m thrilled to be working with her. She’s excellent.”
Production will begin this July in New York, but Brand is already putting his own stamp on the character. For example, he revealed he won’t play the piano like Moore, but will most likely sing instead. And, pointedly, the wardrobe will reflect his own personal sensibilities.
“I went in for fitting the other day for a suit and [said] ‘I ain’t wearing no suit that’s too lose. And just make the trousers tighter,'” Brand says. “I want to look a certain way. I don’t care if it’s a film or not. It’s still me.”
Brand’s next film, “Get Him to the Greek,” opens on June 3.