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Francis Ford Coppola Confirms What We Suspected About Marlon Brando's Off-Set Behavior

It's fair to say that Marlon Brando is one of the most iconic actors of all-time, thanks to a lengthy career which spanned back to his time on the stage in the 1940s. He brought some incredible characters to life over the years, and won a number of Academy Awards, BAFTA awards, and Golden Globes for his work in films like "Julius Caesar," "On the Waterfront," and "The Godfather." That said, he famously refused to take his Best Actor Academy Award for playing Don Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's crime epic, choosing to instead protest against how Native Americans were being treated in Hollywood. In his place, he sent a woman called Sacheen Littlefeather to go on-stage, explaining the reason behind his protest (via YouTube). It was a moving gesture that proves there was more to the star than just his notorious method-acting approach and supposedly entitled behavior.

The star later reunited with Coppola to work on 1979's "Apocalypse Now," where he plays Colonel Kurtz — an officer gone rogue in the Vietnamese jungle — who is targeted by Martin Sheen's protagonist, Captain Willard. Even though Brando was reportedly incredibly difficult to work with (via The Hollywood Reporter), Brando's performance is still celebrated to this day, and the film is frequently praised as one of the best ever made due to its hellish depiction of the Vietnam War.

That said, putting these struggles aside, Coppola recently opened up about what Brando was like as a human being, both on and off the set.

Francis Ford Coppola says Marlon Brando was a genius

When speaking to GQ about his equally incredible career, legendary director Francis Ford Coppola opened up about what it was like working with Marlon Brando over the years on both "The Godfather" and "Apocalypse Now." Coppola explained that even though the two men spent plenty of time on those movies, he would "talk to him in very different terms, you'd never talk to him about acting." He also praised the star, saying he was "kind of a genius" because of "the way he thought about life, about termites, about people, about ants, about reality."

Clearly Brando's method approach to acting caused him to ponder about life, the universe, and everything. Although when the interviewer touched on the controversial stories surrounding the star, Coppola stressed that Brando "wasn't difficult to work with, he just worked a different way." Brando wholly embodied the characters when he's onscreen because of his method approach — and Coppola was quick to praise the star, adding "You could just put a prop in his hand, and he would then use that prop to accomplish what you really wanted." 

It says a lot about Brando's sheer talent that audiences and critics still examine what he brought to the screen, all this time later. With that in mind, it's unsurprising that both Don Vito Corleone and Colonel Kurtz are two of the most legendary characters in cinema history.