Marlon Brando

American actor (1924–2004)

Marlon Brando, Jr. (April 3, 1924July 1, 2004) was an American actor. Considered one of the most influential actors of the 20th century, he received numerous accolades throughout his career, which spanned six decades, including two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, one Cannes Film Festival Award and three British Academy Film Awards. Brando was also an activist for many causes, notably the civil rights movement and various Native American movements. Having studied with Stella Adler in the 1940s, he is credited with being one of the first actors to bring the Stanislavski system of acting, and method acting, derived from the Stanislavski system, to mainstream audiences.

In a close-up, the audience is only inches away, and your face becomes the stage.

Quotes edit

Even today I meet people who think of me automatically as a tough, insensitive, coarse guy named Stanley Kowalski...
  • An actor's a guy, who if you ain't talking about him, ain't listening.
    • The Observer (1956)
  • That scene. Let me see. There were seven takes because Rod Steiger couldn't stop crying. He's one of those actors who loves to cry. We did it over and over again.
  • Privacy is not something that I’m merely entitled to, it’s an absolute prerequisite.
    • Said in 1960, quoted in Marlon Brando, Ch. 11 (1974, rev. 1989), by David Shipman.
  • When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.
  • I think awards in this country at this time are inappropriate to be received or given until the condition of the American Indian is drastically altered. If we are not our brother's keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.
    • Undelivered speech for the Academy Awards written by Brando as it appeared in The New York Times (March 30, 1973)
  • Homosexuality is so much in fashion it no longer makes news. Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences and I am not ashamed. I have never paid much attention to what people think about me. But if there is someone who is convinced that Jack Nicholson and I are lovers, may they continue to do so. I find it amusing.
    • As stated to Gary Carey in Brando's 1976 biography The Only Contender
  • Bertolucci is extraordinary in his ability to perceive, he's a poet...he is very easy to work for.
  • Chaplin you got to go with. Chaplin is a man whose talents is such that you have to gamble. First off, comedy is his backyard. He's a genius, a cinematic genius. A comedic talent without peer.
  • Kazan is a performer's director, the best director I ever worked with... Most actors don't get any help from directors. Emotional help, if you're playing an emotional part. Kazan is the only one I know who really gives you help.
    • Rolling Stone Issue No. 213 (May 20, 1976) on Elia Kazan
  • Bob Hope will go to the opening of a phone booth in a gas station in Anaheim, providing they have a camera there and three people. He'll go to the opening of a market to receive an award. He'd get an award from Thom McCan for wearing their shoes. It's pathetic. It's a bottomless pit. A barrel that has no floor. He must be a man who has an ever-crumbling estimation of himself. He's constantly filling himself up. He's like a junkie – an applause junkie. What happens to those people when they can't get up and do their shtick, God only knows. Bob Hope, Christ, instead of growing old gracefully or doing something with his money, be helpful, all he does is he has an anniversary with the President looking on. It's sad. He gets on an airplane every two minutes always going someplace. It didn't bother him at all to work the Vietnam War. Oh, he took that in his stride. He did his World War II and Korean War act. "Our boys" and all that. He’s a pathetic guy.
  • You are very attractive, but the coat you're wearing makes me think you are either a very rich woman or a very rich man's mistress.
    • Stated to Ashraf Pahlavi of Iran, as quoted in Faces in a Mirror (1980) by Ashraf Pahlavi, p. 129
  • Acting is the expression of a neurotic impulse. It's a bum's life.
    • Marlon Brando: The Only Contender, Gary Carey (1985), Ch.13
  • The principal benefit acting has afforded me is the money to pay for my psychoanalysis.
    • Marlon Brando: The Only Contender, Gary Carey (1985), Ch.13
  • It is a simple fact that all of us use the techniques of acting to achieve whatever ends we seek.
    • Introduction to The Technique of Acting by Stella Adler (1988)
  • Acting serves as the quintessential social lubricant and a device for protecting our interests and gaining advantage in every aspect of life.
    • Introduction to The Technique of Acting by Stella Adler (1988)
  • I have always considered my life a private affair and the business of no one beyond my family and those I love. Except for moral and political issues that aroused in me a desire to speak out, I have done my utmost throughout my life, for the sake of my children and myself, to remain silent … But now, in my seventieth year, I have decided to tell the story of my life as best I can, so that my children can separate the truth from the myths that others have created about me, as myths are created about everyone swept up in the turbulent and distorting maelstrom of celebrity in our culture.
    • Songs My Mother Taught Me (1994)
  • A lot of the old movie stars couldn't act their way out of a box of wet tissue paper, but they were successful because they had distinctive personalities. They were predictable brands of breakfast cereal: on Wednesdays we had Quaker Oats and Gary Cooper; on Fridays we had Wheaties and Clark Gable. They were off-the-shelf products you expected always to be the same, actors and actresses with likable personalities who played themselves more or less the same role the same way every time out.
    • Songs My Mother Taught Me (1994), p. 83
  • Even today I meet people who think of me automatically as a tough, insensitive, coarse guy named Stanley Kowalski. They can't help it, but, it is troubling.
    • Songs My Mother Taught Me (1994) p. 143
  • I was surprised as anyone when T-shirts, jeans and leather jackets suddenly became symbols of rebellion. In the film there was a scene in which somebody asked my character, Johnny, what I was rebelling against, and I answered 'Whaddya got?' But none of us involved in the picture ever imagined that it would instigate or encourage youthful rebellion.
    • Speaking about the film The Wild One (1953) in Songs My Mother Taught Me (1994) p. 175
  • On the day Kazan showed me the completed picture I was so depressed by my performance that I got up and left the screening room.
    • Speaking of his performance in On the Waterfront (1954). Songs My Mother Taught Me (1994)
    • "If there is a better performance by a man in the history of film in America, I don't know what it is."- Eli Kazan on Brando's performance in On the Waterfront, published in Marlon Brando, Portraits and Film Stills 1946-1995 (1996)
  • The power and influence of a movie star is curious: I didn't ask for it or take it; people gave it to me. Simply because you're a movie star, people empower you with special rights and privileges.
    • Songs My Mother Taught Me (1994)
  • I don't think I was constructed to be monogamous. I don't think it's the nature of any man to be monogamous. Men are propelled by genetically ordained impulses over which they have no control to distribute their seed.
    • 1994 statement, as quoted in Kosher Sex : A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy (2000) by Shmuley Boteach
  • There's a line in the picture where he snarls, "Nobody tells me what to do." That's exactly how I've felt all my life.
    • Marlon Brando, Portraits and Film Stills 1946-1995 (1996) Speaking about the film The Wild One (1953).
  • Hollywood is run by Jews. It is owned by Jews, and they should have a greater sensitivity. They should have greater sensitivity about the issue of people who are suffering because they've [been] exploited. We have seen the nigger, we've seen the greaseball, we have seen the chink, the slit-eyed dangerous Jap. We have seen the wily Filipino. We've seen everything, but we never saw the kike, because they know perfectly well that is where you draw the wagons around.
    • Interview on Larry King Live (April 1996), quoted in Cultural Diversity and the U.S. Media (1998) by Yahya R. Kamalipour and Theresa Carilli, p. 105
  • This picture will try to show the Nazism is a matter of mind, not geography, and that there are Nazis — and people of good will — in every country. The world can't spend its life looking over its shoulder and nursing hatreds. There would be no progress that way.
    • At a press conference for The Young Lions in Berlin; republished in Marlon Brando, Portraits and Film Stills 1946-1995 (1996)
  • Acting is the least mysterious of all crafts. Whenever we want something from somebody or when we want to hide something or pretend, we're acting. Most people do it all day long.
    • New York Times (July 2, 2004)
  • If a studio offered to pay me as much to sweep the floor as it did to act, I'd sweep the floor. There isn't anything that pays you as well as acting while you decide what the hell you're going to do with yourself. Who cares about the applause? Do I need applause to feel good about myself?
    • New York Times (July 2, 2004)
  • The close-up says everything, it's then that an actor's learned, rehearsed behavior becomes most obvious to an audience and chips away, unconsciously, at its experience of reality. In a close-up, the audience is only inches away, and your face becomes the stage.
    • New York Times (July 2, 2004)
  • I suppose the story of my life is a search for love, but more than that, I have been looking for a way to repair myself from the damages I suffered early on and to define my obligation, if I had any, to myself and my species.
    • New York Times (July 2, 2004)
  • When I lie on the beach there naked, which I do sometimes, and I feel the wind coming over me and I see the stars up above and I am looking into this very deep, indescribable night, it is something that escapes my vocabulary to describe. Then I think: 'God, I have no importance. Whatever I do or don't do, or what anybody does, is not more important than the grains of sand that I am lying on, or the coconut that I am using for my pillow.' So I really don't think in the long sense.
    • New York Times (July 2, 2004)

Quotations about Brando edit

  • Pallid as a mushroom, smooth-skinned and scarred, with curved feminine lips and silky hair, he seems as unhealthy as a lame duck. Yet his ram-like profile has the harsh strength of the gutter.
  • This fear of the single man is seen most viscerally in Hollywood films, with their images of dangerous, potentially violent men. The most famous of these were stars such as James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, and Anthony Perkins, each embodying a different type of moody, sensitive rebel.
  • The movie may not contain Brando's greatest performance, but it certainly contains his most emotionally overwhelming scene... As he weeps, as he attempts to remove her cosmetic death mask ("Look at you! You're a monument to your mother! You never wore makeup, never wore false eyelashes!"), he makes it absolutely clear why he is the best film actor of all time. He may be a bore, he may be a creep, he may act childish about the Academy Awards -- but there is no one else who could have played that scene flat-out, no holds barred, the way he did, and make it work triumphantly.
  • Simply put, in film acting, there is before Brando, and there is after Brando. And they are like different worlds.
    • Rick Lyman, in The New York Times (July 2, 2004).
  • Mr. Brando can chew on a matchstick with more skill than many actors can summon up to create a whole character, and simply watching him work is a lesson in the art of acting.
  • Talking about Marlon is like dancing about architecture. When you tell the stories, the stories would be rich. And everybody would laugh a lot. And then say "where does it come from?"
    • Sean Penn on the difficulty of explaining Brando, on interview on "The Charlie Rose Show" (2 July 2004).
  • I like Brando's acting … and James Dean … and Richard Widmark. Quite a few of 'em I like.
    • Elvis Presley, when asked to name his favorite actors, in "Elvis Exclusive Interview" with Ray Green in Little Rock, Arkansas (16 May 1956), as published in Elvis — Word for Word : What He Said, Exactly As He Said It (1999), by Jerry Osborne, p. 21
  • No figure of his influence has so precariously balanced a handful of unforgettable achievements against a brimming barrelful of embarrassments.
    And yet the reverence in which he is held by his profession is unshakable.
    His sometime friend and co-star Jack Nicholson said it simply and best: "He gave us our freedom." By which he meant that Brando's example permitted actors to go beyond characterizations that were merely well made, beautifully spoken and seemly in demeanor; allowed them to play not just a script's polished text but its rough, conflicting subtext as well.
    • Richard Schickel, in "The TIME 100: The Most Important People of the Century" (8 June 1998).
  • I realized there was a part of him always churning with something, some problem he was dealing with. I got the impression of a man who was trying to solve the pain of something – perhaps he was gifted with or burdened with – that he didn't really want, or he didn't want so long as he didn't understand it. It kept him, whether he liked it or not, continually alert, seeking for a solution and continually alive, and connected with all of us who have things inside of us going on all the time, and we became fascinated, unconsciously, and watched his turmoil. And that's the word. Turmoil. It was a continuing deep and personal problem.

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