In a surprise statement on Friday, Russell Brand announced that he has canceled all planned SXSW appearances, including a much-publicized keynote speech. Brand was invited to the festival to discuss BRAND: A Second Coming, a documentary about his rise to fame and struggles with substance abuse. The film will premiere at SXSW on Friday.
The star posted a lengthy apology on his website, explaining that the film is difficult for him to watch and speak about. "You'd think a narcissist would like nothing more than talking about themselves and their 'rags to riches,' 'hard luck' story," says Brand. "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."
The documentary took seven years and 21 different investors to produce. Although Brand originally spearheaded the project, he eventually handed over the directorial reigns to Ondi Timoner, the acclaimed filmmaker behind Dig!.
"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," Brand states. "Posthumously this is a great honor but while you're alive, oddly intrusive and melancholy."
Brand ends his post with an apology to the festival. "I apologize sincerely to the organizers of SXSW for my non-attendance, especially Janet Pierson, Brian Solis and Rynda Laurel from the Interactive festival, who were responsible for the keynote talk that I was due to do."