When Famous People Just Say No

GROBEL: Another "can't do" associated with you is your inability or refusal to memorize lines. Do you have a bad memory, or is it that you feel remembering lines affects the spontaneity of your performance?

He seemed to welcome the chance to stop thinking about the Indians and began to answer.

BRANDO: If you watch somebody's face when they're talking, they don't know what kind of expression is going to be on their face. You can see people search for words, for ideas, reaching for a concept, a feeling, whatever. [But] if the words are there in the actor's mind...Oh, you got me! [laughing]. You got me right in the bush. I'm talking about acting, aren't I?

GROBEL: For a man who likes to talk, it's a pity that you brake yourself.

BRANDO: I'm fascinated about anything. I'll talk for seven hours about splinters.

GROBEL: But will you talk for seven hours about your career?

BRANDO: Of course not. Not two seconds about it.

Over the course of the 10 days I spent with him, I did anything and everything possible to unlock the mystery that is Marlon Brando.

GROBEL: Does being labeled a Method actor mean anything to you?


GROBEL: Does it bother you?

BRANDO: B-o-r-e. Bore.

GROBEL: Is that what a Method actor does--to bore through to the core of an actor's being?

BRANDO: It bores through and goes beyond the frontiers of endurable anguish of interviews.

We're playing here, but we're not through.

GROBEL: Well, this painful interview is almost over.

BRANDO: Oh, listen, it hasn't been painful at all. It's been delightful. Although I feel like I got in a rummage sale: would you want this dress? No, that schmatte. How about this corset? Well, we could take the rubber out and make a slingshot out of it. I'm dizzy. We've gone from the temples of Karnak to the halls of William O. Douglas. GROBEL: Speaking of temples, do you believe in God?

And that led to our discussion about God, order in the universe, life on this planet, aging, death, which got him to quote Shakespeare, which led to the rumor that he was going to do King Lear on Broadway--and so it went, back and forth, moving from topic to topic like the rummage sale he thought it was. It wasn't easy, but getting this complex and reclusive man to speak was definitely worth the effort. One of his favorite books was Stephen Potter's The Theory and Practice of Gamesmanship. Thus, his tactics come as no surprise: You try to catch him, he tries to avoid being caught.

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