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In focus

I was Russell Brand’s biographer – and I can tell you his dad has a lot to answer for

It’s no coincidence that difficult men, from Brand to Trump, have toxic relationships with their fathers, says parenting expert Tanith Carey. ‘Father wounds’ do lasting damage to the sons – and the world around them

Sunday 24 September 2023 06:00 BST
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It’s hard to imagine a more brutal way for a father to introduce his son to the ways of toxic masculinity.

When Russell Brand turned 16, his dad Ron took him on a luxury trip to the Far East to teach him how to be “a man”. By this, he meant he paid a prostitute to take the boy’s virginity in a Hong Kong hotel room while offering the worst parental role modelling ever by having sex with two others on the bed next to them.

As the author of the first biography of the comedian in 2007, I spent hours talking to a range of Brand’s friends, colleagues, and family members to try and understand what made him tick. It quickly became clear to me that his relationship with his father was core to any understanding of the controversial man he had become.

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