Marlon Brando said ‘disgusting’ actor ‘made me sick’
Burt Reynolds became one of Hollywood’s highest-grossing stars at the peak of his career in the late 1970s, but perhaps never achieved the professional acclaim and credibility suggested by his earlier roles. Twenty years earlier, in those defining days of the late 1950s and early 1960s, much had also been made of his striking resemblance to a young Marlon Brando. It was a similarity that neither actor appreciated and was even said to be the main motivation for Reynolds to grow his signature mustache. Much more serious, however, was the main obstacle Brando placed in the other actor’s career.
Burt turned down a staggering number of high-profile and subsequently lucrative and iconic roles, from James Bond and Han Solo, to Richard Gere’s role in Pretty Woman and Jack Nicholson’s roles in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Terms of Endearment, both of which won Oscars.
He was also formally offered the role of Al Pacino in 1972’s The Godfather, but a growing problem got in the way. In his memoir, But Enough About Me, Burt revealed that Marlon, already filling in for Vito Corleone, threatened to walk out of the film if he was cast and tensions grew so high that he was forced to leave.
The problem between the two stars had actually started at least ten years before.
Certainly Marlon never took him seriously as an actor and took some pains to hide his disdain, but Burt was increasingly desperate to find roles that would show his range.
A starring role in the television western Gunsmoke was followed in the late 1960s by a series of westerns and war films. Lead roles in two TV detective shows, Hawk and Dan August, were short-lived when both were quickly cancelled, and then, over the next decade, Burt turned down both SASH and James Bond.
A role in The Godfather trilogy could have been a complete game changer for him.
In recent years, a scandalously vicious recording of Marlon on the set of 1979’s Apocalypse Now has surfaced, making it abundantly clear how he felt about the other actor. When the subject of Burt comes up, he launches into a no-holds-barred annihilation of his fellow actor.
Marlon begins: “Don’t say that name around me. It’s the epitome of something that makes me want to throw up. I don’t know why I hate it…”.
Except then he goes on to detail exactly why he held Burt in such low regard.
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Marlon added: “He is the epitome of everything that is disgusting about the actor. He worships in the temple of his own narcissism. Totally narcissistic person.
“The thing that really grossed me out… I saw him on TV once. It was the premiere of a movie he made, called (The Man I Loved) Cat Dancing. He had ordered some (Native American) Indian kids to come over because he was a bit anti-indian and wanted to make some compensations…
“They brought the kid in and he was a kid of about three or four years old. He wanted to show how loving he was, so he crouched down and he was playing for the cameras, ‘Oh how I love kids,’ that kind of thing… And the kid started to walk away to get off camera, so he pulled the kid back, trying to get the kid to do a little scene about how sweet Burt was about kids… He was such big crap.) …The whole idea of harassing children. The child wouldn’t bulls**t.”
The following year, Burt seized the opportunity to unleash another brutal impersonation of Marlon on television, this time on Saturday Night Live.
In the sketch, host ‘Baba Wawa’ is trying to interview ‘Marlon Brando’ in bed, but all he wants to do is stuff himself with food. It was a painfully sharp comment on the actor’s notorious weight problems.
In the final months of his life in 2019, fifteen years after Marlon’s death, Burt was once again on the talk show circuit, promoting his latest film, The Last Movie Star. He was enjoying another professional renaissance and tragically he would die just as filming was about to begin for his next role in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Burt told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Next if he was upset about the notoriety The Godfather had had without him, especially since Marlon had forced him out: “No, I was very flattered. I was flattered that he was upset. ..”.
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