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Creator / Marlon Brando

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Truly the epitome of manliness.

"Best be showin' some r'spect fer Marlon there, the man's a religious icon where I come from. Followers of the Bran-Dao believe that you don't gotta be running your mouth to prove how macho you are. Just gotta be confident and put your all into what you do, and people will fill in the rest themselves. We believe if you live your life right, you reach a state of Nirvmana where the whole universe is in complete recognition of your masculinity."
Commander Badass, Manly Guys Doing Manly Things

Marlon Brando Jr. (April 3, 1924 – July 1, 2004) was a legendary American method actor who was among the first to dye for their art, using diet, exercise, and makeup to alter his appearance to suit each role.

He broke out in the late 1940s in Elia Kazan's Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire, then became one of the world's biggest film stars in the early 1950s when he repeated the role in Kazan's film version. His movie hits included his Oscar-winning role in Kazan's On the Waterfront, as well as less arty projects such as The Wild One and the screen adaptation of Guys and Dolls. He later created and forever owned the role of Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather, as well as performed notable cameo roles in several high-profile films, including Jor-El in Superman: The Movie and Kurtz in Apocalypse Now.

Brando later became regarded as something of a joke for his exorbitant demands and prima donna behavior on film sets, which put many directors at odds with him. He eventually went into a self-imposed seclusion, from which he emerged only to appear in films far below his demonstrated talent.

A famous ladies' man, he also admitted to having several homosexual experiencesnote .

Brando was preceded in acting by his older sister Jocelyn, whose credits include The Big Heat and Mommie Dearest.

He was voted in the UK's Empire Magazine in 1997 as one of the five greatest living actors. He passed away in 2004.

Impressions of him, in the form of a Mumbling Brando, are a Stock Parody.


Tropes associated with Marlon Brando and his characters include:

  • Big Eater: Even before his later weight gain, his appetite was legendary with costume designers regularly having to alter his outfits to accommodate his habits and producers even hiring people to shadow Brando and forcibly remove him from coffee and pastry shops. His favorite food was ice cream, and one of his favorite snacks was a full loaf of bread stuffed with bacon.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy:
    • Al Pacino said that he would work his ass off in acting only to come short of what Brando could do in his sleep. The man was also famous for refusing to memorize lines and often had cue cards on set or just improvised. Bear in mind that Brando started in theatre so he knew perfectly well how to memorize lines. He used cue cards on set not out of laziness so much as to provide a more spontaneous performance (which considering that movies were shot out of order helped make every scene fresh).
    • Elia Kazan admitted that this was Brando's style. Give him a part and attract his curiosity and tell him what you want from the scene. He would then go in a corner and come up with something unique and brilliant, and better than the original idea. Some directors accepted this, others who preferred total obedience to their directions had problems accepting this and this created conflict on some of his later films.
    • Case in point: Superman. He was only there for the money, read his lines off cue cards and baby Kal-El's nappy (refusing to learn them), and had a fairly small role. And it is one of the best performances in the film. Moreover, he was the one who suggested that Superman's logo be the family sigil, which eventually became part of the Superman mythos.
    • He also suggested to Richard Donner that he play Jor-El as "a green suitcase", which Donner admitted years later that he still wasn't entirely sure if he was serious or not.
    • In Apocalypse Now he came in very late to a production already very tumultuous, he was asked to lose weight (as Kurtz was supposed to be a legendary special forces soldier) but instead arrived obese and hadn't even read the script or original novel. Francis Ford Coppola worked with dramatic lighting and chest-high camera angles, with Brando improvising his dialogue and interactions with the rest of the cast. The end result is considered one of the best character introductions and performances.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: He enjoyed pulling pranks on his co-actors and the director, refused to learn his lines, effectively sabotaging the very movies he appeared in. In Apocalypse Now he appeared on set while being seriously overweight. Francis Ford Coppola had to solve this problem by showing him in shadows, which actually worked out well for the scene.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: invoked Regretted that a couple of his bad boy roles got this treatment. Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire especially — Brando loathed the character as an abusive rapist and was horrified that some audiences romanticized him.
  • Extreme Omnivore: It was reported during the filming of The Missouri Breaks that the environmentally sensitive Brando fished a frog out of a pond, took a huge bite out of the hapless amphibian, and threw it back into the drink.
  • The Gadfly: Basically his sense of humor. Brando would often say things and make suggestions that he knew directors would shoot down as a way of entertaining both himself and others. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.
  • Hidden Depths: His activism for the Civil Rights Movement and Native American rights. He also studied with a voice teacher and did his own singing in Guys and Dolls. He's not mind-blowing, but he more than holds his own against his co-star Frank Sinatra. And despite being the progenitor of the Mumbling Brando, he once played Mark Antony in Julius Caesar and proved that, yes, he can enunciate and project and method act better than anyone else in the room.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Trope Namer via On the Waterfront.
  • Large Ham: While he usually fell more on the Cold Ham end of the spectrum, he could be a truly monumental example of this when he got going. Just ask Stella.
  • Mr. Fanservice: During The '50s and The '60s with a bit of Even the Guys Want Him.
  • One-Book Author: His directorial debut One-Eyed Jacks which resulted in Executive Meddling and is regarded by some critics as evidence that He Really Can Direct. His bad experience on it put him off directing for good though he planned further films.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The Missouri Breaks, where his Wild West hit man character lapses in and out of a stereotypical Irish accent.
  • The Prima Donna: He became a notorious example of this, especially in his later roles, with directors and co-stars often finding him nearly impossible to work with, Apocalypse Now and The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) being two of the most infamous examples of his ego and demands nearly destroying the whole production.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: One of the core elements of the Brando acting style is that he projected a performance through body language and the tone of voice more than just the words on the page. This created the Mumbling Brando parody but it was revolutionary in how it made his performances feel imminently more naturalistic next to actors accustomed to using a rigid posture and strict enunciation.
  • Sue Donym: Appropriately for a Large Ham, he took up ham radio as a hobby after settling in Tahiti, but got his license under the name "Martin Brandeaux".
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Stayed in touch with Eli Wallach (who was a Nice Guy by comparison) for about thirty years, even after they did an improvisational scene together where he hurled Wallach across the room, elevating a stage fight into a brawl.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: He was known for his love of ice cream, often eating five-gallon tubs in one sitting.
  • Troll: One of his favorite hobbies in his later years was to go on the internet and start arguments in chat rooms.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Many of his early roles.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Famously portrayed a very masculine and attractive man who was constantly sweaty and dirty.
  • Vocal Dissonance: He's one of the Trope Codifiers for the Hunk, and yet his voice is... jarring, to say the least. Especially with his thick accent and lisp which gave the impression that he was slurring his words.
  • Yellowface: Portrayed an Okinawan in the theatrical adaptation of The Teahouse of the August Moon. The Yellowface is somewhat softened by 1) Brando delivering a typically charismatic performance and 2) Brando's character being the smartest person in the movie. In fairness to him, Brando did such intense research on Okinawan customs and accent in order to get it right that actual Okinawans were convinced that he was the genuine article.

Brando in fiction

Web Comics

Western Animation


Video Example(s):


The Godfather

The opening scene of the Godfather shows how he earns respect.

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