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Why Marlon Brando’s co-stars called him “Psychotic”


Why Marlon Brando’s co-stars called him “Psychotic”


The Method: How the Twentieth Century Learned to Act, a new book by Isaac Butler, delves into Marlon Brando’s time starring in the stage production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

The book, which includes an excerpt published by Slate, sheds light on the difficulties some of Brando’s co-stars faced while working with him during rehearsals.

According to the excerpt, Brando showed up late, had trouble memorizing his lines (which may have been due to his dyslexia), and played his scenes differently from day to day, making it difficult for his co-stars to act opposite him.

Karl Malden, who played Mitch, said, “I like to be cooperative in a scene, to help someone deliver in any way I can. Marlon’s attitude was very much, ‘This is how I’m going to play this scene today. I may play it differently tomorrow. You have to figure out what you’re doing yourself.”

Jessica Tandy, who played Blanche, had harsh words for Brando. According to the book, Tandy called him “an impossible, psychopathic b******,” as Brando and director Elia Kazan thought Tandy was jealous of Brando’s performance causing audiences in early performances of the show to side with Stanley and not Blanche.

Tandy was precise in the way she played her part while Method actor Brando would try out new ideas.

However, when the play officially opened, the entire cast was praised, with Tandy singled out in the New York Times review.

Brando apologized, poorly, to Tandy and then wrote her a letter explaining himself. “I was aware that my apology to you was insufficient to an obvious degree,” he wrote.

“When I am confronted with a situation wherein I feel compelled to express my feelings directly, I am not surprised to find my mouth full of stones.”

He also pointed out her “gracious behavior to [his] ungraciousness.”

Tandy also wrote to Brando and tried to offer advice. Her letter read in part that his actions were “bound to hurt [him] eventually and earn [him] a reputation for irresponsibility which [she didn’t] think managers or directors [would] tolerate, despite [his] unusual abilities.”

Brando went on to play Stanley in the Streetcar film, while the role of Blanche was re-cast with Vivien Leigh.

This wasn’t the only time Brando clashed with co-stars. Other stories have emerged over the years of issues colleagues had with Brando on set.

For instance, in 1955, Brando starred with Frank Sinatra in Guys and Dolls, and they did not get along.

As reported by Closer, Sinatra’s dislike of Brando began when Brando was cast in On the Waterfront in the role that Sinatra wanted. So, he went into Guys and Dolls already holding a grudge against his co-star.

“Sinatra came out of the glamour of Hollywood in the ’40s, while Brando was the new breed, who had open disdain for Hollywood,” Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz said in an interview.

“Sinatra was not a fan of this new kind of acting, and he was not a fan of Marlon Brando.”

In the 1957 film Sayonara, Brando had a difficult time working with his co-star, Japanese actress Miyoshi Umeki.

Brando reportedly did not like the way Umeki was directed and would often change his lines or refuse to play certain scenes.

Despite these conflicts, Brando’s performances in A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront earned him two Academy Awards for Best Actor.

He went on to become one of the most iconic actors of his generation, known for his method acting style and his performances in classics such as The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and Last Tango in Paris.


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