Never confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent
Trained in the ‘method’ at acting school and famous for becoming totally immersed in the characters he played, Marlon Brando brought a new kind of realism to the silver screen.
He had already wowed many as a leather-jacketed motorcyclist in The Wild One when he blew audiences away in On The Waterfront in the mid-1950s. This secured the young actor his first Oscar.
Educated at a military academy after being expelled from high school for riding a motorbike through the corridors, Brando was again threatened with expulsion, this time for insubordination. Popular among his peers who protested that the measure was too harsh, he was offered a reprieve, but dropped out of high school. Unable to enlist in the Army due to an injury, he instead headed for New York and drama school.
He began making his name on the stage, known for his his uncompromising attitude, as well as singular talent, before Hollywood beckoned. He gave what critics described as the performance of a lifetime in A Streetcar Named Desire, while his most enduring role as ageing gangster boss Vito Corleone in The Godfather won him his second Oscar.
Brando’s love life commanded intrigue – he married several times, was father to 11 children and had many lovers. As far back as 1973, he spoke matter-of-factly about same-sex experiences and was sublimely indifferent to the opinion of other people – expressing amusement about speculation over his love life.
In later life, Brando commanded a record-breaking fee for a relatively small part in Superman: The Movie and insisted on several days travelling down river on a boat for research before he agreed to start filming his bit in Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now.
A screen legend who inspired a wave of actors including Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino, he is remembered as one of the great actors of his generation.