He was the hunk of his era and made many girls (and guys) swoon but there was more than meets the eye with this old Hollywood actor.
He won Academy Awards, three BAFTA’s, and two Golden Globe’s. And that’s only half the reason Marlon Brando became and remains a household name.
Many will know him for his sensational roles in A Streetcar Named Desire and The Godfather. But his achievements extend well beyond the cinematic world.
The relentless efforts the actor made to entertain the masses along with his unmatched presence on-screen successfully landed him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
For a man so victorious, it’s amazing to see how calm yet captivating he was when appearing in interviews.
Whilst he had a way of making everything look rosy from the outside, his rise to fame wasn’t quite as glamourous as you’d expect. We’ve got the dark, deep and dirty secrets behind the man who is considered one of the greatest actors and humans of all time.
His early life
It probably won’t come as a surprise that Brando came from a family of very talented individuals. His mother and sister were both actresses and starred in several onstage productions. The inspiration he must have felt from an early age to get involved in the lights, camera, and action of theater must have been astonishing.
You’d expect having married an actress and theater administrator, that his father would have been more supportive of his son’s love of the craft. But it turns out he was rather disapproving of his career choice.
Ever one to challenge stereotypes and never sacrificing his authenticity to remain likable, a young Marlon Brando didn’t quite live up to the expectations of his angelic features.
Being kicked out of high school for cruising down the hallway on a motorcycle was a clear indicator that he was set to rock the world.
Later dropping out of high school, he traded in his hometown of Illinois for the Big Apple to pursue his dream of being the next big movie star.
Maybe his rebellious nature was the reason for his father’s lack of support and not so much the fact that he didn’t believe in his ambitions.
How did Marlon Brando become famous?
It all began when he was cast on the film production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Having perfected the role as Stanley Kowalski by bringing the character to life onstage a grand total of 800 times, this would be his stepping stone to a life of fame. After being nominated for an Oscar for his immensely fascinating contributions as an actor, many would later say that the movie would not have been a success without him.
His next big break came in Julius Caesar in which he diverged by playing the atypical role of Mark Anthony. This was the moment at which the world began to stand to attention. After this point, the 1950s became the peak time for the rising star and laid the foundations for him to become one of the most well-known actors of the 20th Century.
His outstanding performance in On the Waterfront bagged him his first-ever Academy Award and set him up to become known as way more than ‘The Mumbler’.
The heartthrob couldn’t keep a tune but was cast alongside Frank Sinatra and Jean Simmons in Guys and Dolls due to his rising popularity. The hope that he would be a Box Office draw certainly paid off as the movie made $20 million, which was a mean feat back in 1955.
From this point on things just went from strength to strength and Marlon Brando was propelled into the limelight for what would be a multi-award-winning acting career spanning over 60 unforgettable years.
Ways he shocked the world
The old Hollywood actor became known for far more than his acting skills throughout his rise to fame. There are several reasons we all fell in love with the tough guy with a tender soul.
His magnetic persona
The well-spoken actor had a way of holding the power in any room. His enigmatic presence often kept crew members entertained on set and gifted us some of the greatest heartfelt interviews of all time. An admirable trait for sure, but not liked by the movie directors who would get impatient with him onset. Marlon Brando was one to work on his own time. He would only deliver his lines when it felt right in the moment, sometimes minutes after the producers had called ‘action’.
This way of keeping people on their toes was a trait that kept people coming back for more. He would take method acting to a whole new level with expressive and raw skill, unlike anything we had seen before. From his remarkable adlibbing skills to his seamless improvisation during filming, it was clear from his very first famous line “Stella!” that he would be one to watch.
His social activism
Marlon Brando dedicated his life offscreen towards fighting social inequalities, using his fame for the greater good of humanity. He developed the socially conscious production company Pennebaker, named after his late mother. He was front and center to support the fight against segregation during Martin Luther King’s infamous speech. And not forgetting that he turned down an Oscar for his role in The Godfather to boycott the abhorrent depiction of indigenous Americans in Hollywood movies of that era. Having Sacheen Littlefeather go along to collect the award in his place truly hit home and made everyone wonder why more public figures weren’t making a stand against oppression.
His unwavering authenticity
America was continuously struck by his frankness and unmatched wisdom. The Hollywood icon always spoke his truth, a real rare gem. Whilst most of us live in a reality in which we’re so afraid to lay out our deepest emotions and thoughts for all to see, Brando gifted us with sincerity. He was bold. Never sugar coating his words to maintain his status. There’s a reason he’ll always be remembered for his line “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”.