With dozens of remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, re-whatever-you-want-to-call-its hitting theaters every year, not always to great success, you’d be excused for growing weary of them.
But there’s something genuinely exciting about Arthur. the least of which is it’s inspired bit of lead casting, with the hilariously loquacious Brit Russell Brand stepping into the iconic role of the lovestruck playboy first owned by the hilariously theatric Brit Dudley Moore. Brand is even producing the project (says Brand: “Imagine that, me a producer, I’m producing!”)
NextMovie braved a rainy fall night in New York’s Central Park to bring you the scoop on the April 8 release.
1. Don’t expect more Snow.
On the surface, the character Arthur Bach appears distinctly akin to the role that made Brand a stateside fan favorite, as the hedonistic rocker Alduous Snow in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Get Him to the Greek.” But aside from their hard-partying, free-spending ways, Brand insists the two couldn’t be less similar. “Playing two characters that have substance abuse issues is really no more significant than playing two characters that have a hat,” says the actor, who himself is a recovering alcoholic and drug and sex addict. “Arthur is benevolent, whimsical, childlike, innocent prince, and Alduous is a dark, malevolent, twisted, sort of macabre purple brushstroke of contemporary celebrity; Arthur is a fairytale figure.”
2. Even the director distrusts remakes.
The original “Arthur” had a special place in the heart of first-time feature director Jason Winer, whose TV credits include 13 episodes of “Modern Family” on ABC. “For a lot of people my age ‘Arthur’ was the first sort of naughty movie we saw on HBO when our parents weren’t around,” Winer recalls. “It felt like this glimpse of a world I wasn’t quite supposed to see.”
So how did he feel when he caught wind of the new version? “I was like, that’s a terrible idea. I love that movie. Why would you want to remake it? Then I heard it was Russell Brand and thought, well that’s a great idea, because if there’s one person on Earth right now who redefines the part of a new generation that hasn’t seen the movie, it’s him.”
3. Call him Lucky Brand. (Also: How Jennifer Garner’s mouth is like cake.)
Unless you’re playing James Bond, most actors are lucky to get one lovely leading lady to tango with; Brand has two (three if you count Helen Mirren, but more on her later), who he gets to, as he puts it, “touch them on the mouth with my mouth.” There’s Jennifer Garner, who plays Susan, the stuffy gal he starts off with breakout Greta Gerwig, who plays Linda, the more free-spirited woman he rebelliously falls for (on the line, as you might recall from the original: his inheritance).
Brand raves about Gerwig, who broke out opposite Ben Stiller in last year’s “Greenberg,” telling us, “She’s delightful and beautiful and funny and smart and the kind of woman you’d give up a billion dollars for.” His commentary on Garner is a little more, um, colorful: “She’s like a fairy princess. There’s a brand of red-velvet cake, her mouth is made of that. She smashes you in the mouth [in] those kissing scenes. If I was Ben Affleck, man I’d be pissed off.”
4. New York doesn’t necessarily love you back.
Gerwig, who attended Barnard College in New York and still lives in the city, echoes what other actors have said about taking over the metropolis’s bustling streets for a film shoot: Some passerbys make stop and gawk but not everyone’s happy to see you. “When we were shooting at Grand Central there were a number of angry commuters from New York who yelled at us… they don’t care who you are or what you’re doing all they care is that you’re messing up their day.”
The urban dweller appreciated it, though, as “Arthur” shot at dozens of locations around the five boroughs. “I think people love New York for the attitude that New York throws back at them,” the actress says. “I think everyone at a certain level enjoys being put in their place a bit.”
5. Helen Mirren can be a dirty, dirty dame.
Brand is effusive in his praise of Dame Helen Mirren, who in a sly bit of gender-swapping takes over for Sir John Gieglud (in a role that won the venerated thesp his only Oscar, for Best Supporting Actor) as Arthur’s motherly maid. “She’s so exquisitely eloquent and delightful,” Brand says of Mirren, who he also just appeared alongside of in fall’s “The Tempest.”
But when recalling his favorite scene with the 65-year-old, dishes onto her dirty side: “I was in bed with her and she was reading me one of those bedtime stories, one of those sweet charming ‘Frog and Toad’ stories, and she did a dirty version of it. She was like, ‘Toad took Frog and mounted him from behind and amounted him smoothly with a rhythmic pace….’” Go on…