Russell Brand is bailing on his big night.
The 2015 SXSW Film Festival kicks off Friday night with BRAND: A Second Coming. Directed by Ondi Timoner, the documentary offers a candid view of the notorious British bad boy turned political activist. The filmmaker, who had complete creative control in the making of the movie, feared Brand would back out of the premiere—and she was right. "He watched it and he had a hard time—really hard time with it," she told IndieWire Friday. Timoner previously worked with Brand on a documentary short. "I really wanted him to be at peace with this film," she said of the longer feature, "but I don't know if he'll ever really be at peace with it. It's so raw and so personal and he's never let anything like this out before."
In a blog post published Thursday, Brand explained why he'll be M.I.A. at the festival.
"Some time ago when I was a newly recovering junkie sinking my teeth into succulent transatlantic fame we were contacted by a respected filmmaker who asked if I'd like to make a documentary about happiness and I leapt, ego first into a caper that would take 7 years and as many directors to complete," the Get Him to the Greek actor, 39, wrote. "Due primarily to my loopy truculence the process quickly got a bit muddled and we parted ways and I stumbled on with the project enlisting a series of different directors and producers, some of whom were dear friends, others were Oscar winners (all were good people) to do the real graft. It was chaos; we ended up in US Marine training camps, Louisiana penitentiaries, Occupy protests and backstage at MTV award shows with the world's biggest stars."
"Over the sprawling time period in which we'd been in production I'd transitioned from an attention-seeking missile, exploding into exhibitionism at every turn, into a man who, whilst still a show-off, was becoming disillusioned and disconnected from fame, celebrity and all it's sticky ephemera," he added.
Brand wrote that he was "relieved" when Timoner, a "highly respected filmmaker," joined the project.
"I let go of my mad ambition to direct and star in what had become a shambles and handed the reigns over to Ondi, who wanted creative control and to make a documentary about me and my transition from a relatively conventional celebrity to whatever the hell it is I am now," the Arthur star explained.
"Ondi is a very beautiful person and a director of peerless integrity. I suppose what I didn't consider was that in letting go of the film, I was agreeing to be the subject of a biography. Posthumously this is a great honor but while you're alive, oddly intrusive and melancholy. You'd think a narcissist would like nothing more than talking about themselves and their 'rags to riches,' 'hard luck' story but actually, it felt like, to me, my life was hard enough the first time round and going through it again was painful and sad. I know Ondi is an artist and I'm told the film is good," he said, "but for me watching it was very uncomfortable."
Brand concluded his blog post by apologizing to the organizers of SXSW.