Sir Richard Branson Rockets Ahead
By Bill Kearney
|Branson with Julian McMahon and Marisa Tomei at the Virgin Australia launch party at West Hollywood’s Bar Marmont in 2009|
What humanitarian causes are foremost in your mind right now?
Most of my time is spent on not-for-profit ventures. We have a wonderful group of people that we set up called The Elders, headed up by Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. They go into conflict regions and try to resolve those conflicts. We have the Carbon War Room, which is a center in Washington that is trying to get on top of the problem of global warming. We have a center for disease control in Africa, which we’re just setting up, which will help attack that problem. We also have a foundation called Nature Rocks, which is trying to stop certain tiger, lemur, whale and shark species from disappearing.
Sounds like you’re a busy man. Where do you keep your clone?
I’m actually not Richard Branson. We actually Branson with a model of the commercial space shuttle he plans to operate one day have 20 of me. My wife doesn’t know this, so don’t tell her. We have a blast, and the real Richard Branson is lucky enough to do whatever he wants.
You started in the record industry. What music holds your interest today?
The Killers, Stereophonics, and I’ve got some old reggae bands and Peter Tosh. You get to travel more than most people.
Share some ideas on exciting spots to go to next?
Well, I’m a little biased, but if you want to go to Africa, there is a beautiful private game reserve called Ulusaba where you will be guaranteed to see all the best animals in the world. In North Africa, there is a lovely place called the Kasbah Tamadot up in the mountains of Morocco, and it’s to die for.
Any more world-record attempts on the horizon for you?
We’re hoping to go to the bottom of the ocean within a year—farther down than man has ever gone. I’ll be doing the Puerto Rican trench, the deepest trench in the Atlantic, which is about 29,000 feet, in a solo sub.
photographs by john parra/wireimage.com (kurkova); tiffany rose/wireimage.com (mcmahon);
carl de souza/afp/getty images (spaceship)