The Godfather Director Says Marlon Brando Was a Genius, Not Difficult

There are certain actors who come with a reputation for being difficult on set. If you were to compile a list of stars who have at one time or another been reportedly obstructive, demanding or just plain hard to get along with on set, it would take quite some time to get through if every story was to be believed. Sitting up there with the likes of Crispin Glover, Charlie Sheen and Ed Norton, it has been claimed many times that Marlon Brando was another notoriously difficult actor to work with. However, legendary director Francis Ford Coppolawho famously worked with Brando on The Godfatherdoes not agree with those stories and considers the late actor a “genius” of the industry.


While speaking to GQ about his most iconic movies, Coppola obviously touched on the classic Mafia movie and its lead actor. Despite many who worked with Brando having labeled him as anything but easy to work with, Coppola has a different view and believes that the actor just “worked a different way” to many other actors of the time. Having worked with dozens of the greatest ever actors, Coppola is probably as well-placed to judge the Hollywood elite.

Brando’s appearance in The Godfather was something of a comeback, with the actor having had several badly received performances in the years before its release. It was also not his only time working with Coppola, with the pair reuniting again when Brando joined the cast of Apocalypse Now. With his heft wage packet and a work ethic that many directors and actors just could not gel with, his difficult reputation is one Coppola argues against, and clearly has positive memories of working with the cinematic icon. He told GQ:

“I mean, [Brando] was not just a great actor … he was, aside from his acting, a kind of genius. […] He was not difficult to work with, he just worked a different way. You did not talk to him about acting or, I think, ‘your motivation blah blah blah,’ you did not talk about that. In fact you did not even have to talk to him, you’d just put a prop in his hand and he’d then use that prop to accomplish what you really wanted. ”

Marlon Brando Still Being Discussed Two Decades After His Death Proves His Outstanding Legacy

The Godfather
Image via Paramount Pictures

Over the years, Marlon Brando’s legacy in the movie industry has not diminished. Even when movies like Superman reach milestone anniversaries, it is Brando’s name that is always discussed. When Superman II celebrated its 40th anniversary last summer, many of those involved in the movie recalled how Brando’s role of Jor-El was originally cut from the movie due to the actor demanding an extortionate amount of money for his image to be used. It was also reported that Superman himself, Christopher Reeve, believed that Brando “phoned in” his performance in the original movie.

Regardless of stories like this, Marlon Brando will always be seen as one of the greatest actors of not only his generation but of the entire history of cinema. While he may now be gone, Coppola is still working with some of the most prominent actors of this century. His next movie, Megaloppoliswhich the director is reportedly financing himself, is said to include appearances by Cate Blanchett, Forest Whitaker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Zendaya and Oscar Isaac, among others, showing that the director still likes to surround himself with the best stars in the business.

Marlon Brando passes away at age 80

… say goodbye to the Godfather

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