Published today in The Times:
Derren Brown: mind over magic
“I’m always slightly beset by embarrassment about being a magician, whispers Derren Brown, the most successful magician we’ve had since Paul Daniels fever gripped the nation three decades ago. Right now, another kind of fever is gripping Brown: in a dim dressing-room in Oxford, where his latest stage show has stopped off en route to the West End, he is surrounded by vials of bubbling potions and healing magic powders. Well, OK, bottles of Benylin and sachets of Lemsip. He’s lost his voice. He’s looking pale. Can the show go on?
Every week we will be pulling an old interview from the archive and posting it on the blog.
This week a Nowt 2 Do interview from 2002
A truly remarkable man, very charming, very British, and very interesting, welcome to the world of Derren Brown. Derren is easily Britain’s most unique magical performer and ,hot on the heels of his Channel 4 Specials and making a new series of “Mind Control,” performs a one off run at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory. Nowt2Do.Com were lucky enough to secure an interview with Derren in his Clifton home to find out about Bristol, The show and all things magical!
They say a home can tell you a lot about a person, well Derren’s home can tell you almost everything about him. An extremely well lived in flat situated right slap bang in the heart of Clifton was where I met Derren and Figaro his parrot. His flat is stunning, walls plastered with books (Kafka, psychology, magic), stuffed animals, an assortment of magical memorabilia, and his astounding portraits. Anthony Hopkins, Franz Kafka, Uri Geller, himself, Teller (of Penn and Teller fame!) are amongst the most notable, all strikingly realistic yet marked with Derren’s unique style. “It’s how I like to relax, put some music on and just paint, it’s the opposite of performing I absolutely love it. They are not caricatures as such, just seem to turn out similar to their style! I have a great memory for faces, and its basically how I see people. I hope to organise them into an exhibition after the tour and series.” Read More
I’m at my best when I’m on my own and reading. It takes me back to my 20s when I was living in Bristol, doing magic shows. I spent the rest of my time drinking tea with my nose in a book.
Those closest to me would describe me as very different from the guy on TV. I’m a lot sillier and more friendly. I enjoy making others laugh. The telly guy is really controlling, but that’s because of my job.
One thing about my past I don’t admit easily is I had a bit of a kleptomaniac phase in the ’80s. I’d steal CDs, toys and gadgets from shops. I remember looking round my bedroom as a kid and thinking: “God, I’ve stolen pretty much everything in here.” I never got caught and stopped as I got older.
The three things I’d want on a desert island are my Mac, a router and a very long cable to plug them in. I get frustrated if I can’t keep in touch with people, plus I imagine the appeal of pornography would be strong if I was alone!
One thing I’d like to do before I die is travel more. My job takes me to Europe and America, but they’re obvious places. I’ve never been off the beaten track.
If I advertised myself on a dating site, it would read “Nice guy wants to meet nice guy.” So much these days is about being goal-driven, but being kind is the greatest asset you can have.
The thing I like least about myself is my shape. I was skinny until I was 30 so never did any sport. But now my metabolism’s changed, I have to make an effort to keep trim.
My fantasy dinner date would be my friend Joe, who lives in Sweden. I’ve met a few of my idols and they’re always a disappointment. I usually clam up and come away feeling like I’ve been boring.
The thing I value most is the quality of loveliness. It’s undervalued.
My biggest regret is not sleeping with more people when I was younger – I was a bit of a loner.
If I wasn’t a magician I’d paint. It’s always been my first love – but I don’t know how much of a living I’d make.
Answer the following
I’m often overcome by strong emotions: Never
My friends think I’m very outgoing: Never
I love debating intellectual ideas and concepts: Always
I’m very energetic and live a fast-paced life: Never
I enjoy making people feel appreciated: Always