Charles Petrescu, the Robot from ‘Brian and Charles,’ Talks Fame, Friendship, Becoming the “New Tom Cruise” and Cabbages

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Move over Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, the summer box office has a new hero.

Charles Petrescu, the star of Focus Features’ Brit mockumentary Brian and Charles, released in the U.S. today, is surely among the most peculiar on-screen protagonists. In the film directed by Jim Archer, the gangly, 7-foot tall, balding, bespectacled, cardigan-wearing robot that is made out of a washing machine, mannequin’s head and assorted bits of junk is the creation of Brian Gittins (co-writer David Earl), a scruffy, eccentric and reclusive inventor who has squirreled himself away from society in a remote Welsh farm. To stave himself from loneliness, one day Gittins builds Charles, and so begins an utterly charming, if slightly odd, father-son like bond.

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In reality, Charles is actually co-writer Chris Hayward hidden inside a giant cardboard box costume manning the arms and mouth (Charles’ legs are Hayward’s own), with producer Rupert Majendie off-screen in charge of his Speak and Spell-meets-HAL 9000 voice via a computer.

To mark the U.S. release of Brian and Charles (it’s out in the U.K. July 8) and in something of an editorial first, The Hollywood Reporter sat down for an interview with the film’s robotic star (again, with Hayward in the cardboard suit and Majendie doing the answers). In a wide-ranging, highly unusual chat, Charles reflected on his new fame, described his friendship with Brian, outlined his hopes to become the “new Tom Cruise” and gave a highly detailed (and educational) description of the nutritional qualities of cabbages.

It should perhaps be noted that Charles proved to be a somewhat less robotic conversationalist than some regular human interviewees. Watch the chat in the video player, above.

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