Strange-but-True Stories About Marlon Brando

There have been some eccentric stars in Hollywood’s history, but few can hold a candle to Marlon Brando. Simultaneously one of the greatest actors who ever lived and arguably the most difficult man to ever step foot on a film set, the stories of Brando’s antics have become legend over the years. Many of them are so outlandish that you’d swear they were made up; others are stranger than any movie plot. Here are the wildest stories about the mad genius that was Marlon Brando.

He hated being associated with “The Method”

When most people picture the original practitioners of “Method” acting, they likely picture Brando, which would have driven him nuts! You see, Brando wasn’t a Method actor at all; he didn’t study under Lee Strasberg.

Instead, he learned his trade from Stella Adler, who taught her students to find their performances in the script and in their own imagination, rather than by mining interior emotional depths. Strasberg claimed Brando was a disciple of his teachings, though, and the star bristled at this.

He arrived a week late for his Streetcar audition

Brando always marched to the beat of his own drum, and the story behind his audition for the Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire is a great example of this. Director Elia Kazan spotted him $20 to take the train to playwright Tennessee Williams’ home in Provincetown, Massachusetts, to audition for the writer himself.

Three days later, having heard nothing, Kazan called Williams and asked if he’d liked the young actor’s audition. To his shock, the confused writer replied, “What actor?” It turned out Brando had spent the $20 and hitchhiked there instead. He didn’t arrive until a week later!

Fixing Tennessee Williams’ toilet may have landed him the part

Despite his tardiness, Brando’s timing couldn’t have been better in the end. He arrived to find Williams’ home in a state of disrepair: the kitchen had flooded, the toilet was blocked, and a light fuse had blown. Williams and his artistic friends were sitting in darkness with no idea how to repair anything, so Brando leaped into action.

He fixed the lights and dealt with the plumbing so casually that Williams remarked, “You’d think he had spent his entire antecedent life repairing drains.” He then aced his audition and signed a contract four days later!

He won a lead role by unusual means

In 1952 Viva Zapata! saw Brando play Mexican revolutionary figure Emiliano Zapata. Naturally, these days this kind of casting wouldn’t happen, but back then it was common for a white actor like Brando to take this kind of role. His co-star Anthony Quinn — who at least had a Mexican mom — argued he should’ve played Zapata, though, so Brando came up with a unique solution.

They had a urinating contest in the Rio Grande, and Brando’s pee sailed further into the water. This meant Quinn stuck with the role of Zapata’s brother; he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for it!