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The Drama That Almost Ruined Marlon Brando's Career

The legendary Marlon Brando is one of few actors whose legacy changed the landscape of film forever. As one of the first early pioneers of method acting, he is still revered by many of the greatest actors of our generation as the gold standard for what an actor ought to be. Even early on in his career he was making a name for himself, winning Best Actor in 1955 for On the Waterfront, and winning critical acclaim for his performances in "Julius Caesar" and "The Wild Ones." 

Later in life, Brando experienced a career revival that saw him take on his most iconic role as Vito Corleone in "The Godfather," followed by his equally beloved role as Col. Walter Kurtz in "Apocalypse Now." Time and time again, Brando proved that he was the greatest actor of his generation, but what may come as a shock to many fans is that his career was almost over before it even began.

The double-edged sword of success

In his autobiography, Brando asserts that his role in "A Streetcar Named Desire" almost derailed his acting career from the very start. Yes, Marlon Brando's breakout performance, which launched him into stardom and might have been his most famous role before the Godfather, is a role he says he hated. Brando wrote that the character's sex symbol status took away from the impact of his performance, and he went on to describe how that performance was based on "inarticulate, aggressive animals who go through life responding to nothing but their urges and never doubting them." For a student of the craft such as Brando, this kind of a performance was nothing short of sacrilegious and could have forever ruined his reputation as the master of acting he would go on to become. 

Whatever you might say about Brando's life outside of the big screen, it's certain that the man stuck to his principles, even in the face of Hollywood (He famously refused to accept his Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather, protesting against the entertainment industry's treatment of Native Americans), and it's remarkable to see he had that same kind of resolve this early on in his career.