Although Russell Brand may have grown up in Essex, UK, there is nothing suburban or even remotely humdrum about him. From a child lacking in a sense of identity he now has a unique stage presence. He has been through his own fair share of trials and battles, which mainly stemmed from the difficulties he encountered when growing up.
Russell’s most recent outrage involved leaving a message on the answerphone of Andrew Sachs (of Manuel and Faulty Towers fame), in which he claimed to have slept with his grand daughter Georgina Baillie, a burlesque dancer and member of the dance group Satanic Sluts. He resigned from the BBC as a result.
Being a Gemini he has that special way with words. Yet he also has Mercury retrograde in Gemini which can be linked with an introspective streak that developed due to the sense of isolation he experienced when young. Not having anyone he could relate to, he turned to himself for company, with his own thoughts as his constant companions.
He was born in 1975 and at about six months old his father left the family home, leaving him in the care of his mother. He was an only child and recounts that he always felt as though he never quite fitted in. He tended to be left to his own devices, except when his father visited and took him on an outing.
By the time he was five his mother had met someone new – who consequently became his step dad, and Russell wasn’t very enamoured. This increased his sense of loneliness. By the time he reached adolescence he was considered bi-polar and possibly hypermanic. He was treated for depression and bulimia. As he approached fifteen he confessed to being quite fat, but rather than exercise more, he chose to slim down by making himself sick.
Russell has two major themes in his chart which coincide with his self-sabotaging behaviour. His Sun in Gemini opposes Neptune in Sagittarius, and his Moon and Mars in Aries oppose Pluto in Libra. He also has Saturn in Cancer which can be associated with his troubled childhood. Saturn squares his natal Mars and Jupiter.
Starting with Saturn in Cancer, this placement is often linked with a childhood or home situation in which one feels abandoned and rejected. This can happen in a family situation in which all of one’s needs are met, but in which there is a lack of real love - as though the parents are being dutiful rather than real loving parents. Russell said his greatest problem was feeling rejected. He felt rejected by his father, and this feeling caused him immense pain which he tried to protect himself from in any way he could.
The energy of Saturn in Cancer could be linked to his bulimia and food problems, but was not the only reason.
Pluto in opposition to his Moon and Mars in Aries suggests that he is a force to be reckoned with. He has a lot of energy which needs to be correctly channeled otherwise it will turn in on him, which is exactly what happened for many years.
This powerful energy then becomes a means of getting back at oneself. Mars and the Moon conjunct in Aries can show up as a very ‘me first’ attitude. Aries loves to be first in all things. Loves to lead the way, loves to be loved and adores being out in front breaking new ground. These traits which Aries has in abundance, are there because they are like the babies of the zodiac. They want everything now, and don’t yet undertsand the virtues of patience. Which often get them into trouble – but also brings them plenty of ‘beginner’s luck’.
Russell had a lot of anger stored up inside from a very young age, which he was taking out on himself, and on those around him too. He was on medication in his early adolescence to help with is depression and hypermania. But the beginnings of a breakthrough came when he auditioned for the part of Fat Sam in Bugsy Malone and was chosen. He suddenly came alive on stage and realized that he was getting everything he had always wanted, especially the attention. He loved it, and from this point on he was smitten. His performance earned him a funded place at the Italia Conti Academy, from which he was later expelled. He had already begun to dabble in narcotics and was getting into Class A drugs on a regular basis. He was already on that slippery slope and heading down.
When he was seventeen his real father decided to take him on a very different kind of outing. They both went on holiday to Thailand to check out the local prostitute scene. They shared a room and got to know the girls intimately. Russell thought this was quite unique as far as bonding experiences go. During that year, 1992, he had both transiting Uranus and Neptune in opposition to his natal Saturn in Cancer. These aspects reveal that the usual boundaries associated with the father and with authority figures were being dissolved and obliterated. After such an experience it must have been difficult to see his Dad in quite the same light.
Issues with his father seemed to haunt him over the years and he never quite got over the bitterness of feeling rejected by him. So much so that he arranged for a boxing match to be aired live, in which he and his father fought it out. Called ‘Dad Fight’ it occurred in the first Episode of Re:Brand (2002), a program hosted by Russell that explored cultural taboos, in which many of his offerings were extremely controversial. He and his Dad were in training for a few weeks beforehand, and when it came to the event Russell won. It was like therapy in front of a huge audience but nevertheless seemed to bring them closer together.
After being expelled from the Italia Conti Academy Russell managed to get a three year scholarship into the Drama Centre in Chalk Farm London. However he spent so much of his time on heroin that he just about made it through the days. His stay in the Drama Centre was equally short lived, and from there he moved in with some friends in Bermondsey and became a full time addict. He managed to get a variety of dead end jobs that paid for his habit and drifted through his days in a haze.
The combination of Pluto in opposition to his Moon and Mars, and Neptune in opposition to his Sun coincided with a destructive streak. He said of taking heroin, that it was like being wrapped in a duvet that kept him separate from constant inner pain.
Neptune in opposition to his Sun would mean that he was continually struggling for some kind of identity. The difficulty with this opposition being that he had no real boundaries – which feels like having no skin. Neptune trined his Moon too, which only added to his acute sensitivity.
He would have been very open to the atmospheres of the places he inhabited, and also the people he was around. It was easier to feel other people’s joy, but was impossible not to feel their pain as well. The power of Neptune opens one up to the subtle levels of existence and can take you to heaven or hell.
Many people who have Neptune in challenging aspect to the Sun or Moon are tempted by addictive substances as a way of escaping the harsh reality of their life. Drugs, alcohol, sex and food are just a few of the ways that are used, but there are many others. Many also channel this energy into artistic pursuits – some do both.
He is often thought of as gay because of his rather camp style of delivery, but is actually heterosexual. He hasn’t been linked with any one women in particular, but is known for dating a long line of famous and infamous gals. Aside from this he prefers to stay single.
Pluto in opposition to his Moon and Mars indicates that he is quite capable of being ‘constructively destructive’. Being the kind of avante-guarde stand up comedian that he is, he has found a way to channel this powerful energy. He is very sensitive, but he can also be very ruthless and is certainly driven. The rutheless streak may come out at odd moments, and in response to the pain he felt as a child. Managing all this pent up emotional energy is a full time job.
After a time of drifting he decided that he wanted to be a comedian, and set to work to combine the skills of his favourite comedians along with his own individual style. For a long time he played in clubs and pubs, and was sometimes favoured and at others abused. His second big break came in 2000 after a long period of simply hanging in there at sad little places, getting no laughs.
He made the finals of the New Act Of The Year Award at the Hackney Empire. From here he went up to Edinburgh and played in the Golden Globe, a fringe theatre slot which he booked himself. From this he managed to extract some excellent reviews. And as a result MTV gave him a job – he was on the ladder and climbing.
During 2000 transiting Pluto trined his natal Mars and would have conjuncted his Neptune in Sagittarius. When Pluto conjuncts Neptune is helps to burst the bubble and brings things into perspective. Russell may have pushed that little bit harder and made a big effort to take the next step to fame and fortune.
Mars in opposition to Pluto and in trine to Neptune gives him two styles of masculinity. Mars/Pluto can be very forceful, very determined and perhaps controlling and manipulating at times. With this focus he knows what he wants and is determined to get it. Mars/Neptune brings a fear of the tough and powerful side of himself. He has a very compassionate side that doesn’t like to see anyone get hurt. This is also the side of him that can appear camp and that loves to dress up and perform. There is a basic conflict in his makeup that he may never truly reconcile, and which continually throws him off balance. Now it has become a part of his creative style of presentation.
Being a combination of Gemini and Aries, he has something of the eternal child about him. Many people accuse him of being narcissistic, and self-obsessed. Both of these signs are linked with youth and with that curiosity and naivety that children display. He is very absorbed in the experience of being Russell with all its joys and pains, and as he is a born communicator this is what he does. He prefers to be completely honest about himself and his life, and also to be as anarchically articulate as possible in the process.
Although he had a great chance at MTV he was still on heroin for most of the day everyday, and on a continual high. Eventually he was sacked the day after 9/11 when he turned up to work dressed as Osama Bin Laden. He thought it was funny, but no one else did.
He was quickly snapped up by Xfm, a radio station, but that didn’t last long either. He was fired again for reading out snippets from the Sunday Sport on air. At the same time he was let go from a role in a Steve Coogan comedy, Cruise of The Gods.
At this point his depression resurfaced and if hadn’t been for the help from his agent John Noel, who sent him for treatment at a rehab facility he might never have got back on his feet. They told him that if he didn’t stop taking drugs he would either be dead in six months or in a mental asylum or in prison.
He had reached rock bottom and the only way from there was up. In 2001 when this all took place, transiting Pluto opposed his Sun which meant a time of deep soul searching and powerful transformation. This very intense transit would have helped him to face up to his pain, and to let go and forgive those who have hurt him. This was one of those ongoing transits that lasted into 2002 and would have made a profound impact long into the future.
During rehab he became more acquainted with his spiritual side and spent a lot of time with the Hare Krishna movement, who also encouraged him in his battle against drugs and alcohol. It took him three years until he managed to stay clear of it all. Even now he still goes to AA and NA meetings and he is now patron of the addiction charity ‘Focus’. He acknowledges his spiritual roots and is exploring this avenue in greater depth.
According to him the only addiction which now remains is his sex addiction. But he is at pains to point out that he not really an addict he just likes it. He dreams of being in a loving and nurturing relationship, but at the same time realizes that for now he is better off being single.
Over time he managed to get back his radio and television work and become more and more popular. In February 2006 he was chosen to host the NME awards, which was great, except that he was profoundly insulted by Bob Geldof. Even though he managed to fire off a quick reposte, this upset the him for the rest of the evening and for a long time afterwards.
He feels most at ease as a stand up comic, but has presented a number of TV shows, has done a fair amount of radio work and has dabbled in films, playing the part of flash Harry in the 2007 remake of St Trinians. But his career as an actor looks set to continue with some rather more impressive parts coming up. Over 2008 he starred in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. There were rumours thst he might play the role of Jack Sparrow’s brother in the next Pirates Of The Caribbean movie – which would put him on the Hollywood A-list.
It seems quite amazing that he has done so well, considering the many difficulties that he had to contend with along the way. Russell thinks that it is not amazing, as he always knew he was going to make it, and was determined to do so. He seems to be on a roll right now and keen to experiment with new ways of presenting his act and of being himself. He has created a very colourful lifestyle, and looks set to become even more internationally famous, outrageous and flamboyant.