Perhaps it’s redemption for being kicked out of the prestigious Drama Centre London a week shy of graduation. Or maybe it was just too juicy a part to turn down. Whatever the reason, this year’s outrageous host of MTV’s Video Music Awards, Russell Brand, will play drunken jester Trinculo in Julie Taymor’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The British-born comic will appear opposite Helen Mirren, who stars as Prospera (Taymor’s version of Prospero), and Alfred Molina as Sebastian. Jeremy Irons (King Alonso), Geoffrey Rush (Gonzalo), and Djimon Hounsou (Caliban) are also in negotiations to join the cast. Taymor (Across the Universe) has directed the Bard’s island-set play twice on stage, but in November, she plans to take her shoot to Hawaii. (Is that the only place that Forgetting Sarah Marshall star Brand makes films?)

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