Down The Rabbit Hole (An Excursus On Infinity, The Easter Bunny And Russell Brand)

March 29, 2011

So I went to Los Angeles the other week. While I was there I hung out with Russell Brand and we talked about mommy bloggers, and also post-structuralism, and infinity.

No, really:

Russell Brand:  ‘Mummy Bloggers’ sounds like a nice saying. What if… it becomes so incorporated into language, so people would just use it normally?  “There’s a Mummy Blogger outside!  For heaven’s sake, help her!”

Me:  Or, in your case… “I was tackled by a horde of Mommy Bloggers!”

Russell Brand:  “I was having a lovely time with some Mummy Bloggers and you’ve ruined a perfectly lovely day.”

Me:  You’re turning it into “mummy,” though.

Russell Brand:  “As a MOMMY blogger (exaggerated American accent), do you like this product for your child?”  Is that what it is?  “Well, I have been using those diapers on my Zachary and I must say his nappy rash has cleared right up.”

Me:  Diaper.

Russell Brand:  We say “nappies” and “bins” and “lorries” in my country.

It’s worth pointing out here that I was not alone with Russell Brand. You probably already guessed that, because a) who would leave me in a room alone with Russell Brand? and b) that discussion about ‘mummy bloggers’ only ever talking about ‘nappies’ would have turned into a fight, and the fact that it didn’t is probably evidence enough that there were more reasonable people in the room, people who urged the discussion back to the topic that should have been at hand, the movie Hop, which was the reason for the trip to LA and the stay at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills and all that other stuff that is way less interesting than the fact that we were hanging out around a table with Russell Brand. Anyway.

Me:  We have been informed that the rabbit (in the movie) wasn’t real. Now, is this or is this not true?

Russell Brand:  In your position as Mummy Bloggers, it’s important to keep up the idea that (SPOILER ALERT) the Easter Bunny is real.  I temporarily possessed him.  Is that weird?  Is that going to help?  I possessed the Easter Bunny temporarily and was able to provide him with a voice.

I have got a double identity where, by night, I transform into a rabbit, which is a difficult and painful process where my fangs grow and my fur grows and I contort like a werewolf.

Me: A wererabbit.

Russell Brand: Yes. A wererabbit.

Me:  So when somebody comes to you and says, “We would like you to play the Easter Bunny,” as a comedian, do you say to yourself, “Now, that’s funny,” or do you think, “well, I don’t know about that.”

Russell Brand:  I liked the idea immediately.  As soon as they asked, “Do you want to be the Easter Bunny…?”  they didn’t even finish asking and I said yes. “Do you want to be the Easter…” — at that point, they could have said, “… holidays, bonnet.”  But it was “bunny” and it turns out it was the right decision.  I liked it.

At which point – the point of asking cliched questions about the actor’s ‘motivation’ and ‘inspiration’ – it only seemed polite to let other people in on the conversation.

Some other blogger:  Chris Meledandri talks about the importance of having characters be endearing and enduring.  So, what is it that makes EB (the aforementioned rabbit who – SPOILER – has some relationship to the Easter Bunny) memorable?

Russell Brand:  Well, firstly, he looks crazy.  He’s a rabbit and he doesn’t have any trousers or pants on.  (SPOILER: PANTSLESS rabbit.) That’s peculiar.  I remember that, myself.

And he has an evocative and playful spirit.  The rabbit is a symbol in Native American mythology of the trickster, often seen as the messenger between gods and man.  Like Prometheus in ancient myth, who nicked fire from the gods, rabbits are almost mischievous.  They’re always nicking your crops if you’re an agricultural type person.

They’re playful little things, lovable and sweet. They have little twitchy noses. I did have one as a kid.  He bit me there.  And if you get a rabbit bite, no one really cares. It isn’t like a shark bite.  “I was bitten.”  “What?”  “By a rabbit.”  “Ah.”  But it still hurts.

Me:  The (SPOILER ABOUT CANDY) defecated jellybeans, I don’t recall those from ancient Greek myth.

Russell Brand:  Well, there is a very ancient idea like Prometheus stealing fire or Orpheus going into Hades to get his wife back and stuff.  It’s been placed into the semiotics of children because they’re colorful beans and candy, recognizable signifiers, but it’s still the idea of alchemy and transformation, magic making, mirth making, and trickery.

The transcript, at this point, is heavily edited, which I suppose is understandable because there ensued some – more or less inscrutable and totally un-PR-friendly – discussion of the post-structuralist problematic of childhood myth-making and its relation to the story of the Easter Bunny, and, also, what exactly was signified by the (SPOILER) jellybean-as-bunny-feces motif as presented in the movie. And that’s fine, because nobody wants to come off as trying to intellectualize a movie about the Easter Bunny, unless you are Russell Brand, and nobody else wants to come off as trying to match intellectual wits with the star of an Easter Bunny movie in the arena of intellectualizing an Easter Bunny movie, unless you are me.

I might have also said something about existential phenomenology in contemporary children’s cinema, and also, possibly, the decentering of the intellectual universe qua Derrida, but I’ve blocked that out.

Me:  Did you ever or do you now believe in the Easter Bunny?

Russell Brand:  I believe in the possibility of all things because of the nature of infinite space. If the universe is infinite, that means, inevitably, all possibilities exist.

Right? I totally could have brought up existential phenomenology and it would have fit right into the discussion.

Russell Brand: So, somewhere, there is an Easter Bunny. Somewhere else, there’s a one-legged Easter Bunny.  Somewhere else, there’s a robot Easter Bunny.  There’s an Easter Bunny crossed with Darth Vader because of infinity.  With infinity, everything would occur.

Me: And you access these infinite alternate universes through… rabbit holes?

Russell Brand: Exactly.

All of which proves, I think, that if there is one person who you should not send to interview celebrities – not least celebrities who will wax British about mummy bloggers and attempt to incorporate post-structuralist theory into the promotion of their own movie – that person would be me.

Then again, I’m the only one other than Russell Brand who knew that we were supposed to do rabbit ears. So.

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    Caleb Gardner March 29, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Ha, nice! That sounds about what I would expect Russell Brand to be like in real life.

    Kathryn Humphreys March 29, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    You are awesome. Existential phenomenology and the easter bunny. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    mara shapiro March 29, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    There’s nothing that anybody in this whole world would like better than to have an existentialist conversation about the existence of the Easter Bunny and its place in mythology with Russell Brand. Did you perchance address the topic of the tooth fairy with him?

    Kristen March 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    There are even strains of David Lewis’s metaphysics here, which often makes me want to gouge out my eyes…but coming from you *and* Russell Brand, my eyes are very much in tact, thankyouverymuch.

    Seriously. Philosophers should interview celebrities more often. The possibilities are…well, infinite.

    Tarasview March 29, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    best. interview. ever.

    I totally needed a good laugh tonight – thanks!

    Elissa March 30, 2011 at 1:11 am

    I laughed the whole way through that. Awesome. Maybe you should get into writing philosophical ‘Cliff’s Notes’ books on animated children’s movies? I’d buy them. :P

    karengreeners March 30, 2011 at 8:50 am

    I expected way more cleavage in that photo.

    kyran March 30, 2011 at 8:51 am

    I have no words. You know RB is my boyfriend, right? Wait, I do have words: DO NOT WASH ANY PART OF YOUR BODY THAT TOUCHED ANY PART OF RUSSELL UNTIL I SEE YOU.

    Her Bad Mother March 30, 2011 at 9:08 am

    @kyran, he kissed me, you know? or maybe I kissed him. it’s a bit fuzzy. there was hugging. lips and cheeks met. HOT, RIGHT?

    I’ll kiss and hug you when I see you and his Russellness will maybe rub off on you.

    Jenni March 30, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Jesus, save me from uninteresting celeb interviews–the ones where the subject and writer meet in an L.A. cafe and the writer bewilderingly describes what the subject is eating. I wish they were all this fun and well written, and that all celebrities were as interesting as RB.

    kelly @kellynaturally March 30, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Seriously, seriously? And just you and Russel did the bunny ears! My goodness, Catherine, you ARE the awesome.

    Julie Marsh March 30, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I still think that Russell Brand looks like Charles Manson, but this is exactly why you should have been left alone in a room with him – you provoke the most entertaining discussions, by far.

    chezmonchichi March 30, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Feels awesome to laugh first thing in the morning! I bet that was RB’s favorite interview on the Hop circuit.

    Alli Worthington March 30, 2011 at 10:52 am


    Aren't I Special? March 30, 2011 at 11:41 am

    OMG, Poseur Alert (“qua” Andrew Sullivan) x1200

    Her Bad Mother March 30, 2011 at 11:44 am

    @Aren’t I Special?, I’m so glad that you noticed my specialness! I try to parade it around as often as I can!

    Jocelyn March 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    OMG! (and I NEVER say or type that). I don’t know where to start, but is it OK that my most favouritest part is when you almost put your bunny ear fingers in the fake EB’s mouth?? Love. It.

    klcrab March 30, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Damn, I am so jealous! I don’t know exactly what it is about him that makes me love him, but I do. Thanks for sharing and being so much funnier than I ever could have managed. I think I’ll live vicariously through you for a few moments now.

    Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommy March 30, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    I can honestly say it was the most bizarre and fun interview I’ve done!

    Kalani March 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I (Soo) HEART RB!! Love being able to read about him & Derrida on the same page. In a world of infinite possibilities… Best idea: Robot Easter Bunny!

    Amy - Parenting Gone Mad April 3, 2011 at 1:10 am

    That was highly entertaining! What a great interview:)

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