There was a time when you couldn’t move for headlines on Russell Brand’s wild partying and sexual escapades; he’s previously claimed to have slept with hundreds of women and even held a national newspaper’s title of ‘Shagger of the Year’ six times.
But these days, the 45-year-old comedian – who has been sober since December 2002 and is a passionate advocate of the 12-step programme – seems to be a different man to that once-notorious womaniser.
In fact, his wife, Laura Gallacher – the sister of TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher – has now opened up on exactly what her ‘incredibly romantic’ husband is like at home, and how much he dotes on their two daughters, Mabel, three, and Peggy, who turns two next month.
Helping out with the kids
Russell previously insisted he barely ever helps out with the children, and joked that Laura, 32, has never left him with them for 24 hours as ‘she respects and cares for their safety too much’.
He said, ‘It turns out that Laura is extremely well-versed in the nuances and complexities of child-rearing.
‘Me, I am dedicated to it, devoted to it, but I am still surprised when it’s like, “Oh my God, this is f*****g really hard and it’s so exhausting.”’
But Laura has now said that this couldn’t be further from the truth and Russell ‘almost always’ does the girls’ bedtime and bath-time.
Speaking to You Magazine, she said, ‘I have to say sometimes, “Could you all just calm down?” It’s a lot, but also Russell’s energy is unbelievable. In a way, it’s fantastic because he’s so playful and involved.
‘He and Mabel have a very close bond. They tell each other stories and have whole storylines that play out with different voices and characters.
‘He can go all day at that whereas if I did a minute of it I’d be exhausted.’
Sick of fame
Russell and Laura were introduced by Laura’s sister Kirsty, and dated briefly before, when Laura was a 19-year-old art college student and he a TV presenter with a notorious reputation.
‘I’d never experienced love like that before,’ she says, ‘which made for a good story at the wedding.’
They parted ways, with Russell going on to marry pop star Katy Perry, and his fame rapidly rose.
It wasn’t until 2015 that Laura and Russell’s paths crossed again during a chance encounter, when they ran into each other on a canal path in London and Russell admitted he was getting tired of fame.
She recalls, ‘Russell had this feeling of “I don’t think I want this.” I think he realised he couldn’t sustain that level of attention, that whirlwind where people are around you all the time.
‘I remember him saying, “I think I want a quiet life and a family,” and it was exactly what I wanted. So then it was about seeing if we could build a foundation to make that happen.’
A real romantic
Thanks to his less than squeaky-clean reputation, Laura made Russell work to win her back.
But he managed to charm her with his ‘old-school courting’ and some very thoughtful gestures.
She recalls Valentines Day 2015, when, after she mentioned to him in passing that she loved Japan, Russell invited her for dinner at his house.
She was greeted by a woman in full geisha costume, while inside had been decorated with cherry blossom and hanging lanterns, with sushi to eat.
Insisting Russell still makes big gestures like this, Laura says, ‘He’s incredibly romantic and creative as well, so it’s never obvious but always very meaningful.’
She finishes, ‘He’s the person I go to for everything. He is so supportive.’