Russell Brand Performs Wedding Ceremony For Outspoken Former Scientologists (UPDATED: Will and Scarlett Speak!)
Russell Brand officiates
Wow, this is cool.
Earlier this month, Russell Brand was approached during his standup routine at a Santa Barbara casino by a couple that asked him to marry them. Brand, it turns out, has one of these Internet ordinations that allows him to perform a wedding ceremony. And as you'll see as you watch the video below, he does just that, with quite a bit of Brandian wackiness.
The scene made international news, but here's the detail that was only picked up later by the eagle-eyed members of Anonymous: the "Will and Scarlett" that Brand married were in fact a couple of former Scientologists who had grown up in the church and after defecting have spoken up to denounce it...
Will De Boer is also known as Will Fry, a young man whose mother brought him into Scientology when he was only two years old. Last year, he spoke to San Jose Anonymous, who filmed him, and Mark Bunker put up the series of videos about him. Here's the first:
New Jersey Devils vs. Montreal Canadiens
TicketsMon., Feb. 27, 7:00pm
New York Knicks vs. Toronto Raptors
TicketsMon., Feb. 27, 7:00pm
Seton Hall Pirates Men's Basketball vs. Georgetown Hoyas Men's Basketball
TicketsTue., Feb. 28, 6:30pm
New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals
TicketsTue., Feb. 28, 7:00pm
His bride, Scarlett Hanna, is the daughter of Scientology's Australian president, Vicki Dunstan. She grew up in Scientology, but now speaks out against it. Here's an appearance by her on Australian TV:
I wanted to get this up quickly, but I'm going to try to reach the happy couple to ask them if they ever clued in Brand as to who he was marrying. One thing's for certain: they sure got an original service!
UPDATE: Will and Scarlett called me this morning to give me the details on their totally spontaneous wedding. The event actually took place on July 28 at the Chumash Casino near Santa Barbara, where Will has worked for the past three years.
He and Scarlett met through "mutual things," Will says, referring to an extended worldwide ex-Scientologist network. "We became Facebook friends, and talked over Skype over the course of a year, rather casually," he says. But then a little over a month before they were married, they began to date.
"I told her I was going to end up marrying her on our first date," Will says, but he admits she was a bit more wary. Soon enough, however, they began talking about eloping to Las Vegas. And then they went to the Russell Brand show.
"He came up to the audience to answer questions. I told Scarlett that I had a question for him. But she figured out what I was going to do while I was still waiting," Will says. "I went up to the front and he sees me. I had my hands folded in front of me. 'You sir, come here,' he said. And he said something about me looking humble. He didn't ask me anything. He just hugged me. We did the tall-guy hug for like 30 seconds. People were applauding. Then he said, 'So do you have a question?'"
The clip we see, of Brand agreeing to marry them and then the wacky ceremony, is really just a few minutes out of what was more like 15 minutes it took to get through the entire thing.
"He had that whole place like a family by the end of the show. He was the most perfect minister Scarlett and I could possibly imagine," Will says.
"It was fantastic, really. He was so creative. A lot of people thought that he was vulgar, but the last part of it was so sentimental and precious to us two. And it was so fun," Scarlett adds.
They say the video doesn't really capture how much Russell spoke just to the two of them. He'd put down the microphone so the rest couldn't hear. They talked about rings, and about tattoos, for example.
Hundreds of people came up to them to congratulate them afterwards. "One guy said, 'Did you guys rehearse that?' No, it was totally spontaneous," Will says.
But was it a legal wedding? Well, says Will, they're trying to make it so. "We got the license the next day and we're filling out paperwork. But it doesn't matter to us," he says. "What matters is that he married us."
I asked them if Brand knew anything about their backgrounds, that they had grown up Scientology and both had harrowing stories of what it was like to get out. "No, it didn't matter to us," Will says. "It was just a magical evening.
"We're not religious, for obvious reasons, but we're completely spiritual," Will says. "And that's what he's like, the mad witch doctor of love. It was epic.
"We're just so happy being alive, which we don't take for granted," he adds. "We've had a lot to deal with from our pasts, and we've been able to deal with that together."
"Until the age of 25, no one understood my experience," Scarlett says. "To have someone who truly understands that -- it's the chance to be yourself completely and not to be misinterpreted as something else."
"She's my hero. She was a cadet. And your chance of survival in the outside world when you're a cadet, it's really, really difficult," Will says. "We just really want to thank all the people who have helped through this really painful path. People have been so supportive. Everybody has been so cool with the congratulations.
"I must be the luckiest ginger on earth," says Will.
"And I'm the luckiest woman on earth!" Scarlett quickly added.
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology #17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano #18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive #19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons) #20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures) #21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church #22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members) #23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church) #24: David Touretzky (and other academics) #25: Xenu, galactic overlord
See all of our recent Scientology coverage at the Voice
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard's organization:
The Larry Wollersheim Saga -- Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story -- How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself The Jason Beghe Defection -- A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue The Robert Cipriano Case -- A Hellacious Example of Fair Game The Paul Haggis Ultimatum -- The 'Crash' Director Tells Scientology to Shove It The Marc Headley Escape -- 'Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle' The Aaron Saxton Accusation -- Australia turns up the heat on Scientology The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation -- Scientology's former PR genius comes clean The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross -- Scientology lures a young defector into a trap A Church Myth Debunked -- Scientology and Proposition 8 Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back -- Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits When Scientologists Attack -- The Marty Rathbun Intimidation A Scientologist Excommunicated -- The Michael Fairman SP Declaration The Richard Leiby Operation -- Investigating a reporter's divorce to shut him up The Hugh Urban Investigation -- An academic takes a harsh look at Scientology's past Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh -- A precedent for a Scientology-Branch Davidian link Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology -- A masterful telling of Scientology's history The Western Spy Network Revealed? -- Marty Rathbun ups the ante on David Miscavige Scientology's Enemies List -- Are You On It? Inside Inside Scientology -- An interview with author Janet Reitman Scientology and the Nation of Islam -- Holy Doctrinal Mashup, Batman! Scientologists -- How Many of Them Are There, Anyway? Roger Weller's Wild Ride -- Scientology When it was Hip The Marc Headley Infiltration -- A Scientology Spying Operation Revealed Placido Domingo Jr: Scientology's Retaliation is "Scary and Pathetic" An Interview with Nancy Many, Former Scientology Spy The Paulien Lombard Confession -- A Scientology Spy Comes Clean The Deputy Benjamin Ring Hard Sell -- Scientology wants your 401K The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology -- the whole series! The Squirrel Busters Busted -- Unmasking the Scientology PI in Charge
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in New York, delivered to your inbox.