Marlon Brando (1924-2004)
- John Derek, Knock On Any Door, 1948. Among the star groupies calling at Brando’s Broadway dressingroom during A Streetcar Named Desire, was Humphrey Bogart offering a film debut as Nick Romano - in his Sanatana’s company first production. “We can make beautiful music together.” (By 1954, they were up for the same role!). Marlon lost interest but loved Nick’s coda: “Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse.”James Dean did. Brando didn’t.
- William Holden, Sunset Blvd, 1949. “Too much of unknown,” said the studio! Director Billy Wilder then looked at Montgomery Clift, Gene Kelly, Fred McMurray before voting Holden.A perfect choiceas a string of flops ruinedhisdecade earlierGolden Boy fame. Rather like Gloria Swanson’s gigolo Joe Gillis, Holden had hit zero - and the bottle.
- Anthony Quinn, The Brave Bulls, 1950. Still hedging his movie bets, “the old lamplighter,” as Brando called himself, director Robert Rossen: “Offer the role to Anthony Quinn. He wants to be me, anyway.”
- Thomas E Breen, The River/Le fleuve, France-India-USA, 1950. The obvious first choice of legendary French realisateur Jean Renoir at the end of his US career, In his seventh and final film, the largely unknown Tommy Breen had an asset that no Method-ist could match. He’d lost a leg just like novelist Rumer Godden’s creation of flyer Captain John. But not even Renoir could extract a decent performance out of him.
- Dick Haymes, aymews, St Benny The Dip, 1950. Brando had yet to make a movie - when the Dazinger brothers led the fight to get the Broadway sensation from A Streetcar Named Desire during 1947-1948. Edward J and Harry Lee wanted him to head a gang of small time hoods hiding out as priests. Brando passed. The Dazingers gave Benny to the singer Haymes. Another reason why they ended their days making 76 quota quickies in London. Christopher Lee said if shooting went beyond three days, the budget was used up!
Kirk Douglas, The Big Sky, 1951. The only time The Silver Fox ever envisaged Brando in one of his films was for AB Guthrie Jr’s Western “love story” of Boone and the older Jim. Howard Hawks mused upon Brando in either role opposite Sydney Chaplin, Robert Mitchum or, more explosively, Montgomery Clift(!). Brando was too expensive at $125,00 (exactly the salary ofDouglas a year later) and Hawks slid downwards into Douglas and Dewey Martin.
- Jack Palance, Sudden Fear, 1951.
Tallulah Bankhead warned her off the “pig-ignorant slob” but Joan Crawford visited Brando on Broadway for her (very average) thriller. “I always audition the new boy in town.” She got his stage understudy. And made it clear she’d never work with him again. “She accused me of copying Brando,” said Jack. “The cameras were rolling when... getting out of character, she shouted: If I had wanted Marlon Brando to do this scene with me, we would have hired him.” Actually, he had refused. Finally understanding Bankhead, Crawford called him a “shithead.” Anyway, to paraphrase Hamlet: The best is Palance. (He was, after all, Brando’s understudy and eventual successor in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway).
- Gary Cooper, High Noon, 1951. Producer Stanley Kramer’s backer, a lettuce tycoon, said Cooper - or, no lettuce. Coop beat Brando's Zapata to the Oscar on March 19, 1953. Kramer still brought Brando to Hollywood first - for The Men. Among those greeting him at the old Santa Fe rail station (he was afraid of flying), was a young MCA rep who drove him around town. When asked by the chiefs which top agent should handle him, Brando said “the kid from the mail room.” And Jay Kanter became the guy that Brando trusted most in the world. Not vice-versa. Not after Kanter found Marlon screwing the estranged Mrs Kanter: Roberta Haynes.
- Gregory Peck, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, 1951. Brando, Bogie, or outsiders Richard Conte and Dale Robertson - didn’t matter who was Harry Street. Because author Ernest Hemingway disliked the movie for swiping chapters from his other novels to pump up this simple tale of a dying Peck mulling over a wasted career. Hemingway, however, adored Ava Gardner. “And the hyena!”
- Montgomery Clift, Stazione Termini (US: Indiscretions of an American Wife), Italy, 1952. Brando considered the Zavattini script - in English. When nothing came of a French version for Gérard Philipe and Ingrid Bergman, producder David Selznick won it for his wife Jennifer Jones and Clift, directed by Vittorio De Sica.
- James Mason, A Star Is Born, 1953.
- Gérard Philipe, Le Rouge et le noir, France-Italy, 1953. Producer Paul Graetz sued for $150,000 when Brando quit some days before becoming Julien Sorel - because of problems with right-wing realisateur Claude Autant-Lara. Plus an MGM call for Julius Caesar. Philipe was never happy with the first French Technicolor film, hating that it was only ever made because he agreed to it. Marlon softened his Nazi character in The Young Lions into “my chance to play Julian Sorel in another version.”
- Farley Granger, Senso, Italy, 1953. Of course Visconti wanted Brando - the Italian maestro had already created the Kowalski look in the sweaty-macho-in-a- vest-shape of Massimo Girotti in Obssessione, in 1942, five years before Brando (or Tennessee Williams or Elia Kazan) copied it for A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway in December 1947. Marlon tested - in close-ups, not costumes. Yet Italian maestro Luchino Visconti (a) hardly recognised him, “so short was he,” recalled scenarist Suso Cecchi d’Amico, and (b) he could not raise enough backing for... Brando and Ingrid Bergman! (Much less, Brando and Micheline Presle who became Granger and Alida Valli) ). Marlon was keen, not because of Ingrid being an ex-lover, but that his Paris lover was due to play his pal: French actor Christian Marquand. Visconti’s bravura ideas collapsed when Brando learned he was also chasing.,.. Tab Hunter.
- Laurence Harvey, Romeoand Juliet, 1953. Brando and Pier Angeli - the lover of both Brando and James Dean. (And vice-versa!) That was the 1952 MGM plan. Until switching to Julius Caesar.
- Edmund Purdom, The Egyptian, 1953. “They want me to play Cleopatra...” He soon objected (fiercely) to the director (Michael Curtiz), the script (Philip Dunne) and partner (Bella Darvi). She was head Fox Darryl Zanuck’s latest French mistress. So who was going to get the best close-ups! “I’m going to find a way out of this Egyptian pile of camel dung.” And he did. As soon as director Michael Curtiz raged over the top: “I’m told you’re a tough pisser to work with... Anytime an actor gets out of line with me... I have this bull whip... and zing it across their buttocks.” Fox borrowed Purdom from MGM after checking out Dirk Bogarde, John Cassevetes, Montgomery Clift, Richard Conte, James Dean, John Derek, Farley Granger, Rock Hudson, John Lund, Guy Madison, Hugh O’Brian, Michael Pate. Zanuck later admitted “even ten Brandos couldn’t have saved this turkey.” He still sued for $2m until Brando “threw him a bone” - agreeing to be Napoleon in Desirée. He called her Daisy-Rae and got “as many laughs out of the part as I could.”
- Humphrey Bogart, The Barefoot Contessa, 1953. Auteur Joseph L Mankiewicz started castng his “Cinderella myth of movie stardom” while shooting Julius Caesar, 1953. He won Edmond O’Brien for the publicist Oscar Muldoon, but Marlon would have none of the film-maker Harry Dawes. “I’m not making pictures about moviestars this year. I’m not even into even being a movie star, myself.” Joe nabbed him for his next one: Guys and Dolls, 1955.
Glenn Ford, Human Desire, 1953. Brando’s reply to director Fritz Lang: “I cannot believe that the man who gave us the über dark Mabuse, the pathetic child murderer in M and the futuristic look at society, Metropolis, would stoop to hustling such crap.”
- Rod Steiger, Oklahoma! 1954. From the outset, director Fred Zinnemann wanted actors rather than singers... Montgomery Clift, James Dean or Paul Newman as Curly, Eva Marie Saint, Joanne Woodward for Laurey and Brando, Steiger, Lee Marvin or Eli Wallach for p’or Jud Fry - “a bullet-coloured, growly man,” as Curly called him. However, the musical’s parents had casting approval - Rodgers and Hammerstein, agreed only about Steiger. Zinnemann had directed Brando’s film debut, The Men, 1949, and could not persuade him to be Jud insetad of joining Guys and Dolls! PS: Oklahoma was shot in... Arizona. No friend or admirer of Brando, Steiger replaced him again - ten years later in Doctor Zhivago, 1965.
- Richard Burton, Prince of Players, 1954. He invariably rejected real-life characters. Here, it was Edwin Booth, actor brother of President Abraham Lincoln’s killer, John Wilkes Booth. Brando wanted a study of Edwin’s tragic life (a career ruined by the assassination), not clips of classical plays. “When Fox couldn’t get a top-rate actor like Olivier or me, they settled for… a third -rate performer with even worse skin.” Another day, another feud.
- Stewart Granger, Moonfleet, 1954. Whether Fritz Lang wanted him or not, MGM suggested Brando as Jeremy Fox. Granger (largely responsible for the film being made) called the director a “bloody Kraut.”
- Erno Crisa, L’Amant de lady Chatterley/Lady Chatterly’s Lover, France, 1954. Realisateur Marc Allegret got his asisstant Roger Vadim (one of Marlon’s Paris lovers) to call him in Rome... And Brando’s holiday lover, the pretty, Alain Delonesque Guido Arnella - handed on by Tennessee Williams - offered his services!
- Henry Fonda, Mister Roberts, 1954. “I don’t think there’s anybody better,” said Fonda of Brando, “when he wants to be good.” Fonda had been pushed into theatre by Brando’s mother, Dodie, after flunking Minnesota U and she acted with him once in 1927 at the Omaha Playhouse. (They were also, briefly, lovers). This was (a) the first time the two guys were up for the same role (Brando signed for it when Fonda was deemed too old) and (b) the first time a director (John Ford) positively refused Marlon. Fonda had played 1,600 times on Broadway.(“He owned it,” said William Holden, passing on the film before Brando. John Ford only agreed to direct if the studio OK’d Fonda who, like Ford, had served in the USNavy during WWII, not to mention six other Ford films.
- Farley Granger, Senso, 1954. Luchino Visconti’s dream team was Brando and Ingrid Bergman. “The Americans wouldn’t have him,” recalled scenarist Suso Cecchi d’Amico, “as he wasn’t famous yet. They were pushing Farley Granger.” Marlon was keen, not because of Bergman being an ex-lover, but that his Paris lover was due to play his pal: French actor Christian Marquand. Visconti’s bravura ideas collapsed when Brando learned the maestro was also chasing... Tab Hunter!
- James Dean, East of Eden, 1954.
Part of his 1947 test was unearthed in 2006. “Cast who you like,” Jack Warner had told Elia Kazan. Obviously, hethought of Brando (not keen on the script) and Clift and was unimpressed with Dean - until meeting him. “We tried to talk, but conversation was not his gift, so we sat looking at each other..."This kid actually was Cal.” Al PacinosaidJames Dean was an sonnet - Brando, a planet unto himself.“He needed to explore his gift, and to fail with it... I’ve always felt that Marlon, genius that he is, was uncomfortable later on being an actor. But [he] set the stage for all of us today.”
- James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause, 1955. Or, Title Without A Story. Or, first half of a title… Producer Jerry Wald had several scripts of Dr Robert M Lindner’s thesis on juvenile delinquency: Rebel Without a Cause: The Hypnoanalysis of a Criminal Psychopath. In 1946, Warners wanted but Brando (or Sidney Lumet!) for one by Theodore Geisel (future kids’ book author Dr Seuss). Brando tested opposite Ruth Ford (Orson Welles’ God-daughter, Mrs. Peter Van Eyck at the time, and later, Mrs Zachary Scott). His five-minute test was more of him and the script than the role. Warners then bought Blind Run by Nicholas Ray (the Knock On Any Door director) as long as he used Lindner’s title. The 1949 plan fell apart and by ’55 Marlon was no juvenile. His onetime lover, Jimmy Dean, was only able to make it because Liz Taylor’s pregnancy delayed the start of Giant...Anyway, Brando had been there in The Wild One. “What are you rebelling against?” “Whaddyer got?” Dean became a close collaborator with Nicholas Ray, “practically a co-director,” said Jim Backus who played his emasculated father.
- Frank Sinatra, The Man With The Golden Arm, 1955. A bum decision - and Sinatra set out to prove what he had told director Elia Kazan on their waterfront: “Your darling little mumbler is the most over-rated actor in the world.” Their fight started after director Otto Preminger’s first choice, John Garfield, died.
- .Burt Lancaster, The Rose Tattoo, 1955. Tennessee Williams adored Anna Magnani and wrote this 1951 play for her - but stage acting in English scared her. She persuaded Williams to beef up the Val Xavier role to win Brando for the film. He was full of respect, not lust. “Why doesn’t she shave?”
- James Dean, Giant, 1955.
- Henry Fonda, War and Peace, 1955. Just like 1955, Brando was offered everything, right or wrong. He’d just finished being Napoleon opposite Desirée and was not into in another costumer. Or, at least, certainly not with Audrey Hepburn… So Pierre went to Hank. Far too old and he knew it, but as he said, the money was great!
- William Holden, Picnic, l955. He found it too close to A Streetcar Named Desire. No, really.
- Don Murray, Bus Stop, 1955. Brando was suggested as the cowboy who took Kim Stanley away from all this bar singing stuff. After deflowering her, Marlon was Kim’s lover for six weeks in his New York days. Friends for life, he always hailed her as “our greatest actress.” Marilyn Monroe finally played Cheri, created by Kim on Broadway. Fess Parker has been first choice for Bo!
- Cliff Robertson, Autumn Leaves, 1955. Even though she said he “looks like he changes his undwear about every two weeks,” Joan Crawford tries again... And put Marlon atop her shit list (“replacing Bette Davis”!) for refusing her offer with a curt message via his agent. “I’m not interested in doing any mother-son films at the present time.” Game, set and match!
Kirk Douglas, Lust For Life, 1955.
Brando’s first film-maker, Fred Zinnemann (The Men, 1950) talked to him for three years about a Van Gogh biopic - “I can’t envision anybody else.” Warners planned it (of course) for the biopic king Paul Muni, John Garfield chased it, dying before MGM and Vincente Minnelli took it over. Douglas also subbed for another reunion of Marlon and an important director (Elia Kazan) in The Arrangement , 1969.
Cornel Wilde, Hot Blood, 1955. Director Nicholas Ray tried a third time... with this gyspy drama. But no deal for what was then No Return. Stanley Kowalski said it had too much sex and violence! He loved meeting his probable leading lady. Ava Gardner. They dropped Ray and disappeared into the night together. (Second title for TheWild One in 1953, had been Hot Blood).
- Mike Lane, The Harder They Fall, 1955. Budd Schulberg’s expose of the boxing racket was scheduled for 1950 as Brando’s second film - as the exploited fighter Toro Moreno. With the emphasis switched to his sports writer, it became Humphrey Bogart’s last film. Also considered with Brando: John Garfield whose rejection of Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway made Marlon a star - in December 1947. Brando’s sixth film had been another Budd Schulberg story: On The Waterfront, 1954.
- Yul Brynner, The King And I, 1955. Hollywood hated going with the Broadway star. After a brief Brando thought, Fox stayed with the one, the only King Mongkut of Siam. Brando and Brynner were allegedly lovers during the making of Morituri, 1965
- John Wayne, The Conqueror, 1955. Oscar Millard wrote Genghis Khan for him and it would have killed him... Shooting the rotten movie in Utah’s Snow Canyon downwind from “safe” testing grounds of 11 A-bombs in in Nevada’s Yucca Flats. and upon sand imported from there for studio use, caused fatal cancers for 91 of the 220 cast and crew - including Wayne, Pedro Armendáriz (a suicide on learning he was terminal), Thomas Gomez, Susan Hayward, John Hoyt, Agnes Moorehead and director Dick Powell. Wayne chose to play Genghis Khan (!), because he saw it as a Chinese Western. His biographer Scott Eyman called it the biggest Ed Wood movie. Feeling “as guilty as hell” about the cancers, RKO Radio Pictures chief Howard Hughes ultimately locked away what many called an RKO Radioactive picture.
- Red Buttons, Sayonara, 1956. Josh Logan finally got him - but not for the stronger, supporting (and suicidal) role. Marlon preferred the priggish USAF major. Buttons, approved by the star, got the Oscar.
- Frank Sinatra, The Pride and the Passion, 1956. The New York Times reported in July ’55, that producer-director Stanley Kramer was "thinking fondly" of Brando or the 25 years older (!) Humphrey Bogart as Cary Grant’s sidekick, Miguel. Sinatra rushed into the role… and wished he hadn‘t. (a) He hated locations. (b) His wife, Ava Gardner, couldn’t be Juana due to The Little Hut. (c) Their marriage was crumbling. Kramer wished he hadn’t, too. After their Not As A Stranger hassles, Kramer had sworn never to hire Sinatra again. But… he needed another star.
Frank Sinatra, Pal Joey, 1956.
Mae West! Billy Wilder directing! That was Horrible Harry Cohn’s Columbia plan.“A sorta Diamond Lil meets Stanley Kowalksi drama,” Mae called it. According to director Joseph Mankiewicz, Marlon flirted with the project simply to meet Mae - and find out if she was a guy in drag. He wasn’t disappointed. She went through a monologue of Mae-isms and took him to bed under a mirrored ceiling.“I like to see how I’m doin’.”
- Alan Ladd, Boy On A Dolphin, 1956. Preposterous! Preposterous! Gable and Mitchum agreed. Cary Grant had o quit on the fourth day, when his wife, Betsy Drake, was among the survivors of the SS Andrea Doria sinking, off Nantucket on July 25, 1956.
- Robert Mitchum, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, 1956. Better! Although Gable also fled again. . Mitchum (first choice to replace Brando in Streetcar on Broadway - forbidden by Howard Hughes) based Allison on his long-serving, Brooklyn stand-in, Tim Wallace.
- John Rait, The Pajama Game, 1956. Warner won the rights to the musical about a pajama factory strike (!) and immediately began wooing Frank Sinatra - while producer George Abbott insisted upon Brando. They got Broadway’s Rait. Pity.
- Tyrone Power, The Sun Also Rises, 1956. After the Hays Office censors stopped Fox filming the hedonistic Hemingway book in 1933, Ann Harding picked up the rights and planed to produce a 1935 version and, of course, play Lady Brett Ashley. Allegedly, Howard Hawks also considered Harding for Brett in the late 40s. By 1953, it was Brando (or Clift) and Gene Tierney as Jake and Brett. It took Fox a quarter-century to finally make the film and even then, producer Darryl F Zanuck had to promise not to use the word impotent - he did, anyway!
- Don Murray, Bus Stop, 1956. Last chance saloon…. For the always chewed over dream casting: real life ex-lovers Brando and Marilyn. Could never have happened. Children both, Brando would have fled from hanging around hours for her to turn up… and, then, her multiple takes… Even so, he was in the bus queue for the dumbcluck cowpoke, Beauregard Decker - aka Bo. Along with - now here’s a mad mix - Montgomery Clift, Fess Parker and… the other dreamwish, Elvis Presley. Murray won an Oscar nomination for his debut an wed his other co-star, Hope Lange (until 1961).
- Victor Mature, The Long Haul, 1956. Brando and Robert Mitchum passed, so this became the fourth of six films Mature made for Warwick, co-run in London by Harry Saltzman and a certain Cubby Broccoli. They made a habit of wooing Hollywood talent to prop up their exotic adventures and thrillers: Anita Ekberg, Rhonda Fleming (no kin to Ian), Rita Hayworth, Alan Ladd, Jack Lemmon, Ray Milland, Robert Taylor, Richard Widmark, etc. Cubby got Mitchum later that year for Fire Down Below.
- Yul Brynner, The Brothers Karamazov, 1957. The jokers sniped, but Marilyn Monroe got everyone interested (they even read or scanned the book because of her). MGM's Dore Schary tried to set it up with Dimitri Brando and Grushenka Monroe. If only...
- Martin Gabel, The James Dean Story, 1957. The director’s first choice for the narrator...Well, Robert Altman aimed high. Right from his beginning.
- Elvis Presley, King Creole, 1957. Imagine Presley’s rapture at winning a role once aimed at his idols: Marlon Brando and James Dean! In his fourth and favourite movie, Presley never let his idols down. Arguably his best movie. (Well, it was not helmed by Norman Taurog). Elvis was “the surprise of the day,” noted the LA Times, “with good comic timing, considerable intelligence and even flashes of sensitivity.” Sadly, never again. After this, the US Army cut his hair and, appaerently, his balls.
- Frank Sinatra, Some Came Running, 1957. Sinatra’s last real acting job, probably becausehe got it away from Brando. Pity because it was first aimed at Brando and… Marilyn!
- Aldo Ray, The Naked and The Dead, 1957. Producer Paul Gregory insisted that Marlon was keen on Sergeant Croft - based on the first and “absolutely brilliant” adaptation of Norman Mailer’s voluminous “frigging” war novel by... Charles Laughton.
- Tony Curtis, The Defiant Ones, 1957. Stanley Kramer could think only of Brando and Sidney Poitier as the two escaped convicts, chained together. “You wouldn’t need a script,” he said. “Just turn on the cameras and let things happen.” However, while Brando liked the integration message, he didn’t like the way Kramer had produced their film, The Wild One. Billy Wilder said: Brando wanted to play the black convict, Mitchum would refuse to be in any film “with a nigger” and Kirk Douglas wanted both roles… In fact, Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn and Frank Sinatra all refused to co-star with Sidney Poitier. So much for liberal Hollywood.
- John Wayne, The Barbarian and The Geisha, 1957. Ole Duke was somewhat lost in a John Huston film ear-marked for Marlon - as the first US Consul-General in Japan and having an affair with a geisha of 17.
- Gene Kelly, Marjorie Morningstar, 1957. Warners bought Herman Wouk’s book for Brando and Liz Taylor in 1956 - when Natalie Wood was glued into teen pap with Tab Hunter and made it another of her passion-projects... even with a hopelessly miscast Kelly.
- Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur, 1958. His ’56 Marc Antony showed how superb he could have been. Instead, moaned scenarist Gore Vidal, “we got Heston - solid balsa wood.” Director William Wyler (one of the original’s 1924 crew) had also studied Italians Cesare Danova and Vittorio Gassman. Plus Montgomery Clift, Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas, Rock Hudson, Van Johnson (no, really!), Burt Lancaster and Edmund Purdom - who had picked up another epic dropped by Brando, The Egyptian, 1953. Judah Ben-Heston won his Oscar on April 4 1960.
- Elvis Presley, Flaming Star, 1959. Nunnally Johnson wrote the script about the trials and tribulations of a half-breed specifically for Brando (with Sinatra as his brother!). “Certainly, Presley’s no Brando,” agreed producer David Weisbart. “On the other hand, Brando’s no Presley.” Although hushed up by his manager, Colonel Parker, Elvis was proud of his own Cherokee roots from his maternal great-great-great grandmother Morning Dove White – and shared them with his GI Blues character.
- James Stewart, The Mountain Road, 1959. Producer William Goetz first aimed for Brando, then Robert Mitchum before persuading Stewart into his first (and only) war film. “They hardly ever work, ” said Jim before playing the 1944 US Army engineering officer slowing Japan’s advancing army by destroying strategic ammunition dumps, bridges, etc, on a long and winding road in East China… shot in Arizona. As much a Chinese propaganda piece as MGM’s Song of Russia had been about the Russia in 1943.
- Frank Sinatra, Some Came Running, 1959. MGM producer Sol C Siegel wanted the dream team - Brando and Marilyn! - for Dave and Ginnie. No way, said Sinatra. He had owed his comeback to another James Jones book, From Here To Eternity, so Frank was going to make this one, too.
- Ralph Bellamy, Sunrise At Campobello, 1959. They had been hot lovers during Julius Caesar, 1953 - signing hotel registers, Lord and Lady Greystoke! Then, silence. Until Greer Garson called him seven years later about being FDR to her Eleanor Roosevelt. No, he said, no more wheelchairs for him after The Men. He also felt they’d be laughed off the screen. He was too young; she too hetero Republican for such a lesbian Democrat as Eleanor.
- Maximilian Schell, Judgment At Nuremberg, 1960. Producer-director Stanley Kramer already had Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster (replacing first choice Laurence Olivier), Montgomery Clift, Maxmilian Schell, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich and thought long and hard (with scenarist Abby Mann) when Brando offered to play German defence lawyer Hans Rolfe .Of course he did, it was a great scene-stealer. Schell, who’d played the role on TV, won an Oscar at his first nomination. Brando and Schell had co-starred as Nazi officers in The Young Lions, 1958. which also featured Clift.
- Paul Newman, Paris Blues, 1960. Brando toyed with his own Pennebaker project. Minus the exciting prospect of Marlon and Marilyn, this one was made, unlike To Tame A Land, Man on Spikes, Hang Me High, The Spellbinder (set for Errol Flynn), Tiger On A Kite.
- Nehemiah Persoff, The Comancheros, 1960. The Pennebaker project started at as Ride Comancheros, with the boss as a Mexican chief, and drifted off to John Wayne subbing for a dying Michael Curtiz, refusing to have him (or his credit dropped. (He did the same for an ailing George Sherman during Big Jake, 1971). Brando treated his directors like enemies and humiliated most of them, Chaplin and Coppola included - with the exception of Bryan Singer on Superman Returns, 2005.
- Anthony Quinn, The Guns of Navarone, 1960. Passed on the WWII actioner, by the scenarist of his 1950 Hollywood debut, The Men - producer Carl Foreman.
- Dirk Bogarde, The Singer Not The Song, 1961. Nor even Marlon at his worst could match Bogarde camping around Spain as the bandit Anacleto in black from head to toe - and whip - looking, noted The Times, “like a latterday Queen Kelly.”
- Ralph Bellamy, Sunrise at Campobello, 1960. Bellamy, the Broadway production’s Tony Award winner felt at 55 he could not be the pre-Presidentia Franklin D Roosevelt from age 39-42 on film. He suggested Brando fight polio in his place - seconded by Greer Garson, cast as FDR’s wife, Eleanor. Brando refused. He had already done wheel-chairs in The Men, 1949, and anyway, he and Garson would be laughed off the screen because he was too young (36) and too hetero Republican for such a lesbian Democrat. (Bellamy played FDR as the 32nd POTUS in The Winds of War, 1983, and its 1988-1989 sequel War and Remembrance
- James Mason, Lolita, 1961. Among others suggested for Humbert Humbert: Brando’s his future Bedtime Story co-star David Niven, Peter Ustinov… and by far and away the most suitable, Errol Flynn!
- Paul Newman, Sweet Bird of Youth, 1961. As one ex-lover - Geraldine Page - was recreating her Broadway role of fading star Alexandra Del Lago, Brando talked with another former lover - playwright Tennessee Williams - about playing the hustler Chance Wayne. For once, MGM insisted on the Broadway stars: Newman, Page and her future husband Rip Torn. Brando was sure that Alexandra was based on yet another of his old lovers, Tallulah Bankhead (who called him a “pig-ignorant slob”). Marlon had the last word: “I know more about hustlng than Newman. Besides, I hear my prick is bigger than his.”
- Trevor Howard, Mutiny on the Bounty, 1961. He refused the film twice - and both roles, Bligh and Christian - before signing on for $500,000 against 10% of the gross - plus $5,000 a day if shooting went over-schedule. It did nothing else and his overtime, alone, hit $1m. After shooting for two months, Brando decided he’d rather play the botanist (Richard Hayden). Exit: director Carol Reed. Enter: Lewis Milestone for what he figured was “an easy assignment.” Within weeks, he was simply “waiting until someone called ‘Camera!’ and went off to read the paper” as Marlon supervised each scene.
- Glenn Ford, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1962. “Didn’t Valentino do that? I don’t dance the tango.” Knowing he would be punished by Hollywood for his profligate ways on Mutiny On The Bounty. 1962, Marlon muttered: “It’s shit roles for me from now on.” Not just yet...
- Peter O'Toole, Lawrence of Arabia, 1961.
- Richard Burton, Cleopatra,1962.
- Burt Lancaster, Il gattopardo (The Leopard), Italy-France, 1962. First choice of Italian maestro Luchino Visconti for Prince Don Fabrizio Salina. (He’d try again in the 70s for the unmadeA la recherche du temps perdu). Next: Laurence Olivier or Russia’s Ivan The Terrible: Nikolai Cherkasov. Hollywood backers insisted on a Hollywoodian. Anthony Quinn, Spencer Tracy or… Burt. “Oh, no!” sneered Visconti. “A cowboy!' And treated him badly until Burt exploded on the set and impressed the Italian with his passion. They later made Gruppo di famiglia in un interno (Conversation Piece), 1974. “Each time I was playing Visconti,” said the cowboy.
- Sean Connery, Marnie, 1963. Brando topped Alfred Hitchcock’s list for Mark Rutland. Well, obviously… Or, he did until Cubby Broccoli showed Hitch and his scenarist, Jay Presson Allen, a few glimpses of his charismatic 007 in Dr No. And, although, Sean didn’t match their “American aristocrat hero” at hero at all, the role was his.
- Rod Steiger, Doctor Zhivago, 1964. After Lawrence of Arabia, director David Lean tried again. Brando did not even reply to Lean’s letter. So James Mason wasKomarovsky - until Steiger played it. For a year!
- George Segal, King Rat, 1964. As Brando always said: “Guilt is a useless emotion.
- Michael Parks, Wild Seed (UK: Farago), 1965. As with women, even conversation, Brando got bored with his Pennebaker combine and too old for the long shelved role.
- James Fox, The Chase, 1965. Producer Sam Spiegel first planned the film in the 50s - with Marlon as Jake and Marilyn as his lover! He was too old in ’66 and she, alas, was dead. So Brando played the sheriff. He didn’t come cheap: $750,000, plus $130,000 for his Pennebaker company and… a role for his older sister, Jocelyn.
- Oskar Werner, Fahrenheit 451, 1965. As if he didn’t have enough pressures - first film in colour, first in English, a lingo he was far from confident with - French nouvelle vague icon François Truffaut also suffered four years of casting hurdles…. starting with Paul Newman as the fireman hero, Montag. When feeling Ray Bradbury’s story was too important to be shot in English (!), the réalisateur tried his past and future stars, Charles Aznavour, Jean-Paul Belmondo - and Oskar Werner as Montag’s boss. Producer Lewis Allen put him, back on track by suggesting Brando, Montgomery Clift, Kirk Douglas or Sterling Hayden. Producer Sam Spiegel tried muscling in by promising Richard Burton bossing a Robert Redford loving Elizabeth Taylor! Getting desperate, Truffaut made the mistake of his life by giving the fireman to Werner (originally booked for the fire chief). Any of the others asleep would have been better! The Austrian’s head had been turned by Hollywood since his and Truffaut’s Jules et Jim triumph. Werner argued constantly over (his dull) interpretation, refused one “dangerous” scene (as if a fireman would not have to deal with fire) and even cut his hair to ruin continuity. If not for the six years of planning, Truffaut would have walked. Instead, he simply truncated Werner’s later scenes - and used a double, John Ketteringham, in most of them!
- Robert Redford, The Chase, 1965. And if he didn’t want to be the boyfriend (of Jane Fonds, succeeding Monroe), he could be Bubba, the hunted eacaped con. No, he preferred being beaten up as Sheriff Calder - beaten up, of course. And worse than in On The Waterfront or Two Eyed Jacks. And he hated it. Even more so than director Arthur Penn "I enjoy a kind of amnesia about that one." Let me remind you, Arthur… Totally overblown. Like Marlon.
- Ettore Manni, Mademoiselle, UK-France, 1965. Shooting Jean Genet’s script was “an absolutely magical experience” for Tony Richardson. “The only thing you could say against it was that the casting wasn’t perfect.It was going to be Brando… It would have been the Last Tango of its time, if we’d had Marlon.”
- Peter O’Toole, Night of the Generals,1966. Like who had been the screen’s last effective blond Nazi... not that he’d agreed to play an evil Nazi. He was, he said, too sensitive to portray evil. “Playing a Nazi as a villain and getting millions of audience members… to boo me, is more than I can take.”He only changed this attitude when appearing as US Nazi leader George Lincoln Rockwell in Roots: The Next Generations, TV, 1979.
- Peter Sellers, The Bobo, 1966. A former MCAgent, producer Elliott Kastner was famous for his deals - and via his pal, Jay Kanter,for having a ninside track to Brando. But Marlon wisely refrained from being a (blue!) matador trying to be a singing star. 'Twas s ad farce, even with Sellers... falling as fast as Brando, whose previous six films had earned about $1.6m each!
- Terence Stamp, Spirits of the Dead, France- Italy, 1967. Italian director Federico Fellini was never really interested in joining French realisateurs Roger Vadim and Louis Malle in making some Edgar Allen Poe tales. Fellini finally said he’d make Never Bet The Devil Your Head - with Brando, Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, or Terry Stamp as Toby Dammit.
- Charlton Heston, Planet of the Apes, 1967.
James Fox, Performance, 1968.
The trailer proudly announced a film was about vice - and versa… Although French actor-director Christian Marquand and Brando were close pals (indeed, alleged lovers) since 1957. When the actor was in a Paris hospital (after scalding his family jewels with hot coffee), Marquand visited and brought Donald Cammell with him. It was another decade before Cammell actually offered Brando the script. The Liars, later The Peformers… But Brando always avoided (a) better actors or (b) scene stealers. And Mick Jagger was a definite (b) … as a reclusive rock idol messing with the head of the pyschotic US hitman aimed at Brando. “He was always a bit of a fantasy,” admitted producer Sandy Lieberson (ex-agent of Sergio Leone, Peter Sellers, etc). “We were pretty sure James Fox could pull it off, having seen him in films like The Servant.” Fox felt Cammell “had seen a side of me that said: ‘James is a raving nutcase, so let’s steer him in the direction of the East End and see what happens.’ And it worked.” After studious preparation, including visiting the notorious East End gangster, Ronnie Kray, in jail - arranged by technical adviser, David Litvinoff, Ronnie’s ex-lover. The film is also memorable for co-star Mick Jagger inventing the light-saber… Oh yes, he did.. Brando and Cammelll fell out, until collaborating in 1978 on a script about a woman pirate - it became their book, Fan-Tan, published in 2005, when both men were dead. Cammell committed suicide after his fourth movie in 25 years, Wild Side, was taken away from him and re-edited in 1995. He shot himself and, goes the legend, asked his wife for a mirror to watch himself die.
- Kirk Douglas, The Arrangement, 1968. “I'm not going to make this picture or any other without a cast of my own choosing,” Elia Kazan wrote Brando about his semi-autobiographical novel. “I don’t want Eddie plump… You can be a blazing actor again. The wanting is the hard part.” Brando offered to “take a stab at it,” then knowing Kazan would find he was no longer what he had been, split for Italy’s Queimada mish-mash - using as an excuse, Martin Luther King’s assassination. Project was iced until Douglas showed interest. After ten days, Kazan realised his "dreadful mistake... I wished I had Marlon, fat as he was” and vowed never to make another Hollywood film. (And he didn’t until his finale, The Last Tycoon, 1976).
- Paul Newman, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, 1969.
- Christopher Jones, Ryan’s Daughter, 1969. David Lean tried a third time. The UK officer and VC medal-winner was written for Marlon who even rehearsed playing an amputee. He pulled out when Queimada had problems. And then, the master director replaced the sublime with the ridiculous. Weakest link in the Ryan chain, Jones admitted he was no actor - and couldn’t act at all, said camerace Freddie Young. “We did our best,” said Lean. “He came through rather well.”
- Chief Dan George , Little Big Man. 1970. Among points raised in Thomas Berger’s novel was that white actors were rarely convincing as native Americans. Director Arthur Penn must have missed that page as he started wooing great Shakesperians Laurence Olivier and Paul Scofield to play… Old Lodge Skins. Next? Marlon Brando and Richard Boone. Finally, the lightbulb flickered and Penn decided upon the genuine article… the 1951-1963 chief of the Burrard Band of North Vancouver (now the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation). He won an Oacar nomination for beautifully intoning, among other lines, the one pinched by Star Trek’s Klingons): “Today is a good day to die.”
- Tom Baker, Nicholas and Alexandra, 1970. Rasputin! Laurence Olivier, cast as Count Witte, recommended Baker, oner of his National Theatre actors to producer Sam Spiegel. Having lost $10m for Columbia on a four consecutive flops, small films all, it was time for Spiegel to go BIG again in the River Kwai/Lawrence of Arabia tradition. BIG, but CHEAP. No one gave a damn about “two silly people,” wrote Stanley Kaufman in The New Republic, “getting what, as justice goes in this world, they deserved.”
- Richard Attenborough, A Severed Head, 1970. And producer Elliott Kastner tries again… However, in trying to meld Brando with the Burtons (and Julie Christie), e forgot Marlon’s low opinon of Burton. (And vice-versa).
- Topol, Fiddler on the Roof, 1971. Oy vey!
- Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry, 1971.
- Charlton Heston, Antony and Cleopatra, 1971. Nineteen years before Chuck… MGM, thrilled by the Julius Caesar rushes, wanted Joseph Mankiewicz to direct Brando as Marc Antony again with Cleopatra being... and here Joe almost disintegrated… Ava Gardner! When she came to see him, Joe sent her off to Brando’s dressingroom. “Honeychild, I hear that I’m about to barge down the Nile as your Cleo…” It was some time before she returned to Joe.. .No deal. Marlon would never play Antony again. And for all Joe’s scorn, Ava did play Cleo - Mankiewicz style, as The Barefoot Contessa, 1954. Nine years later, Joe re-wrote The Bard for Liz Taylor and Richard Burton: Cleopatra.
- Stacy Keach, Fat City, 1971. Loving his work in Reflections In A Golden Eye, Huston wanted Brando for his sad sack boxer. Brando wanted it. His shape did not. Too long, 22 years, since he had Come Out Fighting in a TV play.
- Burt Reynolds, Deliverance, 1971. UK director John Boorman first wanted Brando and Lee Marvin as Lewis and Ed. Then, Jack Nicholson agreed to be Ed if Boorman could swing Marlon as Lewis. Trouble was, Brando now despised acting, “nothing more than mimicry - a bunch of tricks.” Even so, he agreed. “I”ll take whatever you pay Jack.” Well, Jack’s agent Sandy Bresler wanted $500,000 - and that ruined the budget. The sans-moustache Reynolds of the 70s resembled the young Brando. In 1997, Burt lost the Razzie award for Worst Supporting Actor (for Striptease) to Brando (for The Island of Dr Moreau). “As an actor,” said Burt of Brando, “he’s a genius and even when he's dull he's still much better than most actors at the top of their form. But he has preserved the mentality of an adolescent. It’s a pity.”
- Richard Burton, The Assassination of Trotsky, France-Italy-UK, 1971. Due for an earlier project of Darling’s London producer Joseph Janni.
- Robert Preston, Child's Play, 1972.
"There was no disagreement,” snapped Broadway’s David Merrick. “I simply threw Mr Brando out of my film. He wanted to make basic changes in the story and I couldn’t accept that.” Many felt, even with The Godfather under his belt, he was scared of working with such a definitive screen actor as James Mason, Brutus in Julius Caesar 1953. Since when, Mason felt Brando had “made such a balls-up for his career.” Exactly like The Arrangement, Brando ran to Euro-cover. This time, for his last testament: Last Tango In Paris.
- James Coburn, Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid, 1973.
- Max von Sydow, The Exorcist, 1973.
- Robert Redford, The Great Gatsby, 1973. Miffed at selling his eventual $11m Godfather cut for $100,000, he dropped his agent and (although 20 years and kilos more than Gatbsy) negotiated for “the moon and the stars,” according to producer Robert Evans.“ He wanted to get his points back, I said :One picture had nothing to do with the other.” The hunt turned to another actor who had already tried to get the rights for himself: Redford.
- Gene Hackman, The Conversation, 1973. Francis Coppola sent it to him as a horror script - before they worked so triumphantly on The Godfather. On his Tahitian hideaway isle of Tetiaro, Brando would throw $3m offers into the wastebin. “I'm not going to do this kind of crap.”
- Lee Marvin, The Iceman Cometh, 1973. When Jason Robards was injured in a road crash, director John Frankenheimer had the choice of Brando, Hackman or Marvin for Eugene O’Neill’s Hickey. “Secretly, I really hoped to do it with Lee. He has that wonderful… tortured face. And he looked like a salesman. He told stories so well in life and he was such a good actor. I loved working with him… a really wonderful experience. He was perfect.” Even when he wasn’t required, Marvin was always on the set - “almost like an assistant director,” said Frankenheimer, “trying to quiet people down while I worked with other actors.” Including the last hurrahs of Fredric March and Robert Ryan.
- John Wayne, Rooster Cogburn, 1974. The idea was fair - a sequel to True Grit. But if Wayne proved too ill, what would be the point of someone else in his titular Oscar-winning rôle? Brando topped producer Hal Wallis’ eye-patch list of Charles Bronson, Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Burt Lancaster, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, George C Scott and several Duke co-stars: Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn. This was director Stuart Miller’s second feature. The “6ft 6ins somafabitch no-talent, ” as Duke termed him, never made a third.
- Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, 1974.
- Donald Sutherland, Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (Fellini’s Casanova), Italy-US, 1975. When Fellini didn’t fancy anyone on his 1973 wish list (Brando, Newman, Pacino, Redford, etc), producer Dino De Laurentiis brusquely quit the project in high dudgeon. Or a passing cab. Andrea Rizzoli (son of La Dolce Vita producer Angelo Rizzoli) took over in 1974 before passing the (pricey) baton to Alberto Grimaldi and the (ten month!) shooting finally began on July 20 1975.
- Paul Newman, Buffalo Bill and the Indians Or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson, 1975. Robert Altman, a revered rebel among US directors, talked to Marlon by phone “because of his interest in the Indian thing.” Lost him by adding he wanted a major star “as stardom is part of the story.”
- Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, 1975.
- Kris Kristofferson, A Star Is Born, 1976.
- Gregory Peck, MacArthur, 1976. After all his headaches in finding Patton, producer Frank McCarthy started chasing various MacPossibles.
- Richard Burton, Equus, 1977. High in the running until Burton “auditioned” for four months by taking over the role from Anthony Perkins on Broadway.
- Clint Eastwood, The Gauntlet, 1977. The whacky idea of Brando and Streisand, as a cop and a hooker witness, fizzled into Streisand refusing McQueen and suggesting Eastwood - who took it for himself and his new girl, Sondra Locke.
- Frank Sinatra, The First Deadly Sin, 1980. Frank Sinatra felt he could still put one over Brando. The few seeing the film disagreed, including Bruce Willis making his screen debut with a hidden message: Man Entering Diner... as Sinatra leaves.
- Ben Kingsley, Gandhi, 1981. Scenarist Robert Bolt’s first choice.“He might allow the part to eat him, instead of him eating the part.” Marlon just carried on eating.
- Alain Delon, Un Amour de Swann, France-West Germany, 1983 Italian director Luchino Visconti's earlier idea for Marcel Proust’s gay Baron Charlus. As Karl Malden once said: “Marlon can make wrong choices, bad choices, but I think it’s impossible for him to be false.” Obviously, Malden had not been going to the movies.
- Richard Burton, 1984, 1984. Shooting had begun, in the rush to release the film in The Year, without any State torturer O’Brien. Brando (a future Torquemada) was a predictable idea until Burton saw it as a serious comeback. So serious, he took less money than John Hurt - and accepted second billing for the first time outside a film with Liz Taylor. And died a few weeks after shooting ended.
- James Garner, Murphy’s Romance, 1985. Brando was resting, OK! Hadn’t made a movie for five years. Anyway director Martin Ritt and his star, Sally Field, insisted upon Garner. Well, she was the one getting kissed. Which she enjoyed like everything else about the film and her co-star. On his 2014 death, she stated: “I cherish every moment I spent with him and relive them over and over in my head. He was a diamond.”
- Robert De Niro, Angel Heart, 1986. UK director Alan Parker wrote the Devil for Marlon - “at the most static possible” - and waited for him during eight months’ preparation. Brando was too obese and just not into filming.
- Robert De Niro, The Untouchables, 1986. Refused $5m for two weeks’ work as Al Capone during early casting. Bob Hoskins was all set and handsomely paid off when De Niro became available.
- Burgess Meredith, King Lear, 1986. Brando will be Lear, boasted Menahem Golan, chutzpah-in-chief of the Cannon Group, after signing his contract with the bilious realisateur Jean-Luc Godard on a napkin at the Majestic Hotel bar during the 1985 Cannes festival. “It will be the finest role of his career,” said Golan. Brando passed; he’d made enough rotten movies. The modern-day Lear - a New York Mafia chief Don Learo, more like a Lear Jet given Brando’s size - was then offered to the main scripter, Norman Mailer. “Perfect - he has five daughters!” (No, he had five children, one daughter - “well, sign her up, too!”). Next ideas? Dustin Hoffman, director Joseph Losey, Lee Marvin and, naturally, Orson Welles. Before it fell to Rod Steiger, swiftly replaced by grizzly Buzz Meredith. Godard had forgotten the perfect American choice. Robert Mitchum.
- Peter O'Toole, The Last Emperor, 1986. Inevitably. The Last Tango-maker Bernardo Bertolucci thought to bolster a star-less venture. He did not need to. It won nine Oscars. None for acting.
- Sean Connery, Der Name der Rose/The Name of the Rose, France-Italy-West Germany, 1986. Réalisateur Jean-Jacques Annaud was not keen on 007 as Umberto Eco’s medieval monk turned detective. Columbia Pictures even refused financing if Connery was involved as his post-Bond star was imploding. Naturally, Brando topped Annaud’s further 14 ideas. Five Americans: Robert De Niro, Frederic Forrest, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Roy Scheider; four Brits: Michael Caine, Albert Finney, Ian McKellen, Terence Stamp; plus Canadian Donald Sutherland, French Yves Montand, Irish Richard Harris, Italian Vittorio Gassman and Swedish Max von Sydow. Connery’s reading was the best and his career exploded anew. Two years later, he won his support Oscar for The Untouchables.
- Scott Glenn, Man On Fire, 1987. Producer Arnon Milchan wanted Sergio Leone directing De Niro; then Tony Scott helming Robert Duvall or, better still - Brando.When it became Lelouch wannabe Eli Chouraqui, Brando passed. He did, though, work on tightening the script. (Scott re-made it with Denzel Washington, 2004).
- Robert De Niro, The Untouchables, 1987. Refused $5m for two weeks’ work as Al Capone during early casting. Bob Hoskins was all set and handsomely paid off when De N iro became available.
- Jeff Bridges, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, 1987. Despite their Gatsby battle, director Francis Coppola still wanted Brando as the maverick car maker. Brando said no. And yes to the next Coppola offer, Apocalypse Now.
- Robert Loggia, Oliver & Company, 1987. Talk about chutzpah! Disney chief Michael Eisner invited Brando to voice Sykes in the animalia taek on Oliver Twist. He was convined such a film would flop - like what did know about the successes of toon features! Nor his agent? In the 2009 release, The Princess and the Frog, Disney named an alligator Marlon in honour of Brando and New Orleans, the setting of the toon and Streetcar Named Desire, 1950. There was even a dog named… Stellllllasaaaahhhh!
- Robin Williams, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 1988. German producer Thomas Scuhly offered him the King of the Moon cameo. Like so many others, Scuhly came away inspired to produce Brando’s long gestating Cheyenne movie: Brando directing, David Mamet writing, Italian tele-tycoon Silvio Berlusconi paying…
- Oliver Reed, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 1988.… without getting into any Cheyenne chat, Terry Gilliam offered him Vulcan. Olly Reed had once been hailed as a British Brando. Just... Not... Lately.
- Armin Mueller-Stahl, Music Box, 1989. “It’s a problem of focus,” explained Costa-Gavras, following a meet with the legend on his island. “Brando focusses on other things... than this script.”
- Maury Chaykin, Dances With Wolves, 1989. While prepping his directing debut, Kevin Costner mused over Brando for the mentally ill Major Frambrough. Some years later, in one of those awful I-know-the-face-but… moments, my wife and I ran into Chaykin at the Cannes festival and I had to ask, with a laugh: “But who the hell are you?” He laughed right back. “Well, you might recall a little movie called Dances With Wolves.” “Sure - the film that never knew when it was over. And, of course - you were crazy Framborough. Brilliant!”
- Richard Harris, The Field, 1990. Ray McAnally’s death had the film’s producers in a panic, searching for a new Bull McCabe before realising he was already in their supporting cast. “Brando’s make-up man actually called me on Marlon’s behalf,” said Harris, “and asked who these Irish people were. I told him they were a bunch of layabouts who couldn’t be trusted. I did everything in my power to stop them getting someone else for the part.”
- Kevin Costner, JFK, 1991.
- Donald Sutherland, JFK,1991.
- Danny Vito, Batman Returns, 1991.
- Sam Shepard, Thunderheart, 1991. Michael Apted directed two films about Native Americans for producers De Niro and Redford - minus any sign of Brando. “He’s gone on record so many times about the current state of the Indians, I almost expected him to ring me,” Apted told me in Deauville, France. “I asked him to play the head of the FBI - just one day’s work in Washington. I thought it might appeal to him - as a cause.” It did not.
- Tom Berenger, At Play in the Fields of the Lord, 1991. During the years when director John Huston tried to get his scenario rolling at MGM - which finally sold it to producer Saul Zaentz in 1989 for $1.4m.
- Gérard Depardieu, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, 1992. Brando was the only choice of the extraordianry French director AbelGance for his epic plans in 1980. “Right now the cinema is dead. Columbus will bring it back to life,” said Gance at 90. Not so.
- George Corraface, ChristopherColumbus: The Discovery, 1992. Brando’s name helped provide funds forthe second of the two 500th anniversary films. Too old for Chris, he played the one Spaniard who never actually met Columbus - Torquemada.
- Richard Attenborough, Jurassic Park, 1992.
- Al Pacino, Carlito’s Way, 1993. His producer pal, Elliot Kastner dreamed of re-teaming Godfathers Brando and Pacino - and sued Pacino for $6m when he pulled out in the 80s, losing Kastner “a uniquely and extremely valuable opportunity to produce a film starring Brando.” Four years later, Pacino paid up - by taking Brando’s role opposite Sean Penn.
- Al Pacino, City Hall, 1995. Paul Schrader’s plan for the Nick Pileggi script was to unite Broadway’s old and new Stanley Kowalskis: Brando and Alec Baldwin.
- Olivier Martinez, Le hussard sur le toit, France, 1995. Set for the young hussar hero of the Jean Giono classic in Provence, circa 1840, when his Paris lover, actor Christian Marquand, was due to direct in the 50s.
- Salvatore Bassile, Nostromo, TV, 1996. Director David Lean’s choice for General Montero before the 1980s’ adaptation was aborted because producer Steven Spielberg could not follow who was where (and why) in Christopher Hampton’s script - and wanted “more movie in the film” but no squabbling with his idol. Everyone quit and the lofty plans were reduced to a TV mini.
- Benicio Del Toro, Fear and Loathing Fear in Las Vegas, 1997. Twenty years earlier the idea had been Brando as Dr Gonzo and Nicholson as Hunter S Thompson - later played by Johnny Depp. "I tell you what," said Depp, "I'd have watched that movie. I'd still be watching it. Nonstop. God, that would have been amazing!" He was forgetting their lamentable Missouri Breaks, 1976. About as rotten as this Hunter S Tnompson take. Brando once asked Johnny how many movies did he made in a year? “Last year, I think I did three.” Said Brando: “Don’t do too many... because we only have so many faces in our pockets.”
- Robert Duvall, A Civil Action,1998. Searching for a better epitaph than The Island of Dr Moreau, “Marlon Bran Flakes,” as he often called himself on the phone, investigated and passed on the true courtroom drama.
- James Cromwell, RKO 281, TV, 1999. Set for William Randolph Hearst in Ridley Scott’s version of the making of Citizen Kane before the Scott Free combine cut its pricey cloth to suit an HBO budget. Brando was offered Hearst again in 2001.
- James Woods, Scary Movie 2, 2000.
But for pneumonia, the final film image of the world’s greatest anarchic actor - the Miles Davis of acting - would have been of Brando straining on a toilet... like Elvis. That would have been like watching Rocky Marciano KO Joe Louis on 6 October, 1951. Pitiful. For $2m, he agreed to send up the very Exorcist that he'd refused in 1973. "We didn’t want to be responsible for killing the Godfather,” added his younger brother called... Marlon. Ironically, Woods took over - forgetting, perhaps, how he had lambasted Brando during our interview in Cannes for takng a role unworthy of him: Superman’s daddy in 1978. “Something wrong about it. The greatest screen actor in the history of cinema perhaps - running around with white hair and all that bit.”
- Edward Herrman, The Cat’s Miaow, 2001. “Marlo,” another name, used in phone calls, had the size but no desire to be William Randolph Hearst in Peter Bogdanovich’s look at the 1924 Hollywood murder on Hearst’s yacht. “Marlon didn’t want to go up against Orson Welles” - even though Bogdanovich said that Citizen Kane was never based on Hearst but upon “Colonel” McCormick, who ran the Chicago Tribune and built the Chicago Opera House for his girlfriend... a singer who could’t sing. “What would have happened if Marlon had said Yes? I don’t know - maybe we’d never have finished it.” Or maybe some people may have seen it!
- Alfred Molina, Frida, 2002. “I would,” said Madonna, “do a re-make of yesterday’s garbage with Marlon Brando.” He was her only choice for fat artist Diego Rivera in her plans to film the life of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo – before Salma Hayek beat her to it. To the life, not the co-star
- Christoper Walken, Man on Fire, 2003. Not interested in any new take on his new take on his 1986 pass… By now the star who hated acting - it came, so easy, he found it fraudelent - was not interested in films. Particularly difficult pieces: using his resevoirs of pain just hurt too much. “I’m in the Marlon Brando business,” he used to say. “I sell Marlon Brando.” Not any more.
- Hal Holbrook, Into The Wild, 2007.
When first keen on adapting and directing Jon Krakauer’s novel, Sean Penn wanted Leonardo DiCaprio as Christopher McCandless on a Kerouac road and Brando as his most touching contact, who sees him as a wayward grandson.
- Garrett Hedlund, On The Road, 2011. When Beat Generation icon Jack Kerouac’s book was finally published in 1957, he invited Brando to play Dean Moriarty (aka Neal Cassady). Kerouac would play his own alter ego, Sal Paradise - “with the camera on the front seat of the car showing the road (day and night) unwinding into the windshield, as Sal and Dean yak.” Brando never replied. A few years later when Paramount showed interest (just not enough money), it also wanted Brando as Moriarty. No studio wanted Kerouac. Or not on-screen.