What made Marlon Brando one of the greatest actors of all time? Some say it was his inner conflict. He dug deep into his soul and pulled from its depths his passion, reenacting scenes again and again till he got them right.
Marlon Brandon was famed for pushing his interpretations to the edge rather than “acting out” different versions of himself,. He breathed his characters; felt them in every fibre of his being. His astonishing performances in the “Godfather” “On the Waterfront” and “A Streetcar” stand tall in cinematic history.
On one occasion, Brando spotted a little, stray cat on the set of the Godfather set. He scooped the kitty up and cradled it. The scene of evil Don Vito stroking a kitten as he plans mass murder terrified audiences at the time. Brando’s “method” was so brilliant he is still perceived a genius, in fact today’s thespians have taken more than a leaf out of his book!
Adrien lost 30 pounds for his role in The Pianist. He practiced four hours a day to experience a persecuted Jew’s destitution and homelessness during the Second World War. He even “…gave up his apartment, sold his car, and disconnected the phones, leaving Hollywood and his girlfriend!”
Brody told the BBC interviewer “I took two bags and my keyboard and moved to Europe.” He lost his lover but gained an Oscar.
Jack and the cast of “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” not only interacted with patients in a psychiatric ward they lived with them, attending group therapy sessions together. The movie, a brilliant depiction of the horrendous repression still going on in some of our mental homes made Jack Nicholson an international star.
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Sylvester nearly died whilst filming Rocky on location after he forced his costar to knock him out. “Later that night my blood pressure goes up to 260,” he claims. Sylvester was on the edge of death for hours! A bit too “method” perhaps?
It is hard to imagine the crook with a pauch and a comb over in “American Hustle”, was that good looking actor from Wales. Bale did a super “Brando!” in fact the actor is willing to push the boat out for his role, he even dropped 60 pounds to play an insomniac in a horror movie, which did little for his health.
Billy Bob Thornton
Billy took physical suffering to a new level for his role in the movie“Sling Blade” made in 1996. To “method” his character’s limp; he put crushed glass in his shoes. The interpretation was so authentic he earned an Oscar Nomination!
For his role as a Vietnam Vet in “Birdy” Nicolas Cage had some teeth pulled without anesthesia, and spent weeks walking around town with his face wrapped in Bandages. He told The Telegraph “Men and women laugh, kids staring. And when I took the bandages off, my skin was all infected because of acne and ingrowing hairs.”
More recently actor Jamie Dornan, who plays a serial killer in the Netflix series “The Fall” took his murderous character a tad too seriously. He said, “On the tube … I like, followed a woman off the train one day to see what it felt like to pursue someone like that!” A bit over the top Jamie, wouldn’t you say? Scream!
Daniel Day Lewis
When on “The Crucible” set actor Daniel Day Lewis lived in a replica of a colonial village with no running water or electricity! He never stepped out of character in “Lincoln” either.
Sally Field said… “I never met him. Never. I met him as Mr. Lincoln. He met me as Molly, as he called her!”
”After I got the role, there were seven months before we began to shoot and he would text me all the time, in character. I would have to then answer back in the language of the time, which was really hard to figure out, but great fun.”
A Glorious Inheritance
Brando left today’s actors a great and glorious inheritance. For all his personal tragedies and family dramas, Brando’s genius will never be forgotten.