How 'Arthur' Alcoholics Have Changed

Dudley Moore's "lovable drunk" gives way to Russell Brand's "brat" as the perception of heavy drinkers has morphed in society, a casting director explains to THR.

In 1981's Arthur, Dudley Moore played a lovable drunk with a fatherly butler, Hobson (John Gielgud).

But the Arthur opening in theaters Friday features a much darker, alcoholic bad boy Russell Brand. The new Hobson, played by Helen Mirren, is, as The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt's review notes, "in constant conflict with her aging charge. She prods sharply where the butler steered with the gentlest of touches."

Why the change?

"Society as a whole… we're not expected to be tolerant of that kind of behavior anymore," says Melissa Braun, casting director, Grant Wilfley Casting. (She casts for Burn After Reading, Men in Black 3 and Boardwalk Empire; her company did not cast Arthur.)

Brand plays the role as a "pathetic, bratty little boy who refuses to grow up," notes Honeycutt's review, which is "a modern-day view of what an alcoholic is -- not acceptable behavior, not lovable," Braun tells THR. "Perhaps they're having a more responsible interpretation of an alcoholic."

Braun credits it to "all that psychoanalysis that became so popular in the '80s, and everyone going into rehab. Suddenly there's a different level of hyperawareness of addiction and drugs and alcohol. Even some people argue today that alcohol is more addictive than marijuana. Somebody would never have suggested that 15 years ago."

Also, she notes the "conservative Republican movement. It's so much more constrictive of what's construed as addictive behavior versus what is just plain having fun and getting drunk."

Meanwhile, "it's easier to glorify drug use than alcohol," adds Braun. Stoner movie Your Highness opens in theaters Friday as well; read the review.

"The stereotype of an alcoholic is somebody on a downward spiral, that looks in really, rough shape. Whereas a pot smoker is very much a college kid, maybe grungy, hippy-looking. I've done scenes scenes recreating AA; [I'm told], 'We want people who look like troubled souls,'" she says. "If we're looking for a party scene, we want college kids who look like they're having fun. It's definitely different."

"It's much easier to make fun and laugh at people getting high than getting drunk," she adds. "There's a real view out there that alcohol is more dangerous than smoking a joint."