Russell Brand might not be the first name that comes to mind when you think about an actor playing the son of the Easter Bunny, but after you see the adorable family film “HOP,” you will never question the choice. In fact, it’s not likely you’ll think of anyone else in the role – and that’s because Brand is pitch perfect as the rebellious son of the Easter Bunny who’d rather be a drummer in a rock band than take over his pop’s business.
It’s a scenario close to Brand’s other film premiering a week later (April 8), i.e., the remake of “Arthur,” about a son of a billionaire who rebels against his father. And of course Brand injected a heavy dose of his own freewheeling rock star-like ways to his portrayal of the young bunny. “The rabbit has a certain je ne sais quoi,” Brand told xfinityTV.com at a junket for the Universal Pictures movie that opens April 1. Not that there could be any other way for him. “If I were offered to play an Easter Bunny that was lacking in life force, I don’t think I’d be up for that or if he was downtrodden, but this is a rabbit that certainly has some attitude, that has a spring in his step, that has nuts.”
In “HOP,” E.B. runs away to Hollywood to pursue his musical dreams and en route gets hit by a car driven by James Marsden‘s character, Fred O’Hare, a 30-something slacker whose parents want him to get a life. E.B. and O’Hare – get the joke? – try to sort their lives out with a cast of hilarious characters, including Hank Azaria as the voice of a bad-intentioned Easter Chick named Carlos; Gary Cole and Elizabeth Perkins as the parents of Fred, “Big Bang Theory“‘s Kaley Cuoco as Fred’s sister, David Hasselhoff as himself in a scene where E.B. tries out for an “America’s Got Talent“-type show, and E!’s Chelsea Handler as a potential employer of Fred’s.
“This is a great cast,” said Brand, whose one regret about the movie was doing his work separately from the actor who voiced the Easter Bunny pere, “House“‘s Hugh Laurie. “I’ve never gotten to meet Hugh Laurie, but I love Hugh Laurie. I’d show up in ‘House,’ on ‘House,’ under ‘House,’ by ‘House’ as long as Hugh Laurie’s in that house. I could play Siamese twins or something.”
Cuoco said she instantly said yes to audition for the movie because “it has a really great message, but it also has an edge with Russell Brand’s voice that makes it a little bit more edgy for the people who don’t want to go see a kids’ movie.” And Marsden eagerly signed on to the picture for his kids. “It’s nice to do movies your kids can see,” he explained, “and I can related to my character. There’s plenty of slacker in me. This is the only thing I can see myself doing, being an actor. I really struggled with Plan B. I didn’t know that I was gong to be. I wasn’t good at doing the things I was supposed to do; I wasn’t the greatest student in the world. There’s a little bit of my character and E.B. in me.”
“Hop” opens April 1 nationwide.