Russell Brand is an exceptionally brilliant, wise, cosmically plugged-in fellow — funny, relentlessly narcissistic, socially utopian and beholden to truth. I’m serious — he’s a lightning bolt and a major exception to the rule of celebrity and especially modern comedy. He has to be one of the least attention-averse people in the world. It therefore seems odd…make that extremely odd that he’s decided to not attend tonight’s South by Southwest premiere of Ondi Timoner‘s Brand: A Second Coming, which I’ve seen and, trust me, is nothing to be sheepish about — it’s quite the crackling, electric, transcendent experience.

In a statement on his website Brand says that “you’d think a narcissist would like nothing more than talking about themselves and their…story but actually, it felt like, to me, my life was hard enough the first time round and going through it again was painful and sad. For me watching [the film] was very uncomfortable.” In a just-posted interview with Indiewire‘s Nigel M. Smith, Timoner agrees that Brand “had a hard time…[a] really hard time with it.”

Brand adds, “I apologize sincerely to the organizers of South by Southwest for my non-attendance, especially Janet Pierson, Brian Solis and Rynda Laurel from the interactive festival…[all of whom] were responsible for the keynote talk that I was due to do.”