Marlon Brando: The Way It's Never Been Done Before

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This is an intimate and exceptionally candid memoir of the reclusive superstar Marlon Brando and a portrait of his decades-long friendship with the author, George Englund.

Since bellowing and blustering his way into the spotlight with A Streetcar Named Desire, Marlon Brando has been one of the most revered performers in the world. He was also incredibly reclusive, having shied away from the spotlight for decades. Marlon Brando, written by Brando's close friend George Englund, ...

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Overview

This is an intimate and exceptionally candid memoir of the reclusive superstar Marlon Brando and a portrait of his decades-long friendship with the author, George Englund.

Since bellowing and blustering his way into the spotlight with A Streetcar Named Desire, Marlon Brando has been one of the most revered performers in the world. He was also incredibly reclusive, having shied away from the spotlight for decades. Marlon Brando, written by Brando's close friend George Englund, offers an intimate glimpse into the life and death of the amazing theatrical legend and a portrait of the friendship the two men shared.

This book is one of the most compelling inside views of an epic friendship between two dynamic, eloquent men that has ever been written. It is as unique as Brando was. The author wanted to write the book that Brando deserved -- one that would do him justice and portray him as he really was. Marlon Brando honors Brando's memory and paints a portrait of the true man behind the legend.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060832865
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

George Englund, seventy-eight, is a writer, producer, and director. He directed Marlon Brando in the 1963 film The Ugly American. He lives in Palm Springs, California, with his dog, Eli.

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Read an Excerpt

Marlon Brando

The Way It's Never Been Done Before
By George Englund

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 George Englund
All right reserved.

ISBN: 006083286X

Chapter One

February 16, 2004

Marlon is an old man. I both laugh and weep as I write the sentence. Marlon old? Marlon Brando old? It can't be true. It is, though; he's eighty. But it isn't the number of years that's significant, Marlon could still be youthful. It's how the years have treated him and how he has treated them. And he isn't old to me, we still fire the jokes and puns back and forth, still kid and prod each other, still rail at what's loathsome on television, still read our favorite poems aloud. The Ballad of William Sycamore by Stephen Vincent Benet is a perennial.

But age is here. Today, when I walk down the hall to Marlon's bedroom, on the polished teak that has supported my shoes through so many crossings, I hear it, faintly at first, then more certainly as I near the entrance -- the hiss of the oxygen tank. When I cross into the bedroom-sitting area, it's quiet, there is an unaccustomed stillness, I am in the where-abouts of an old man. The appurtenances of illness -- bottles of pills, boxes of medications, syringes, lotions and lubricants-- fill the surface of the bedside table and tell a story of infirmity. And in his bed Marlon's mien is that of a man who is not well.

It is midday, I have driven from Palm Springs. Marlon and I will have lunch, talk for a while, then I'll put my things in the guesthouse down below the swimming pool while he rests. At some point I will discuss with him the project he began three years ago that he first called Master Class then later Lying for a Living. Marlon meant it to be a top-secret, clandestine endeavor, but, of course, news of it soon landed in the press. He brought a group of actors together, some completely unknown, others established stars -- Nick Nolte, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Sean Penn, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jon Voight, Michael Jackson. Marlon instructed them in the use of improvisation in acting, then had them perform improvisations. He hired the controversial English director Tony Kaye to record the sessions on DVD and almost immediately had a falling-out with him and fired him.

He believes the project will bring him scores of millions of dollars. I believe there can be money in what Marlon has to teach about acting, but the madness that prevails when he controls the business side as well as the creative side of a project will likely prevent his work from reaching the audience it might.

His theme is that acting is lying and that this notion should first be brought to the attention of politicians.

"Politicians lie all the time, that's their principal occupation, but they don't do it well. I can teach them how to lie with style," he says.

After the material had been assembled, Marlon asked me to look at it. We then had a protracted discussion about the DVDs and he asked me to take over the whole enterprise, the legal structure, editing the footage into a salable package, creating and executing the marketing and sales campaign. Also, he wanted me to appear with him on the DVD and lead him into a wide-ranging discussion of the kind we have so often. Finally, he wanted me to appear alone talking about him as man and actor.

I am anxious that this project be completed; I feel it is essential that Marlon not leave this planet without, in some form, having set down his view of acting -- what acting is and how the art should be approached and rendered.

We agreed on what my responsibilities would be, specifi- cally the duties listed above, then, as happened so often and so amusingly with us, we did not agree on what I should be paid. That brought a schism. After I thought about it, I told Marlon that at this point in life what was important was our friendship, I'd do the job as his friend, without compensation. It's critical, I said, that we build on what's been recorded and create a Brando legacy.

"Good to see you, Georgie." Marlon gestures at me.

"Look good. Feeling strong?"

"Ready to run the four-forty, Mar, what about you?"

"Not bad, when I get out of bed I roll my oxygen tank around like a beach ball, that's good exercise. What do you want for lunch?"

Angela, the sweet thirty-four-year-old Filipina, who began as Marlon's maid a few years ago and now takes care of all of the details of his life, is nearby and looking at me with a smile. Her sister stands alongside to assist.

"Anything, Mar, I'm easy, maybe just some Rosicrucian fennel cakes."

"I don't know if we have those," Angela says ingenuously.

"He's bullshitting," Marlon tells her with a laugh, but he has to build on the idea. "You like them sauteed, right, shredded camel dung on top?"

"These days I'm leaning to walrus phlegm, for tartness."

"He'll have what I'm having." Marlon nods to Angela.

"Mr. Brando is having tuna salad, is that what you'd like?" She smiles at me. "We've got other choices."

"Tuna salad." Marlon looks up at her. "He's not able to say it, but he wants tuna salad."

Angela smiles again. "What would you like to drink?"

"Whatever Marlon thinks goes best with fennel cakes."

"Iced tea," he says to Angela. "We'll both have iced tea." Angela leaves.

In this house on Mulholland Drive, which overlooks Beverly Hills on one side and the San Fernando Valley on the other, and in which Marlon has lived for over forty years, we are in our customary positions -- Marlon in bed, I in the chair facing him. Less than a year ago Marlon, who is five-ten, weighed in excess of three hundred and fifty pounds ...

Continues...


Excerpted from Marlon Brando by George Englund Copyright © 2005 by George Englund.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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