Natasha Lyonne had a moment of supreme surrealism while filming Scary Movie 2 with Marlon Brando. The series of horror movie spoofs reached dire straits by Scary Movie 5, but was still able to attract some big-name talent like Lyonne and Brando for the first sequel in 2001. As highly regarded he is as an actor, Brando was no stranger to doing some eccentric things on various sets throughout his career.
In the opener for the Scary Movie 2, Lyonne appears as the parody version of Reagen MacNeil, the possessed girl portrayed by Linda Blair in 1973’s The Exorcist. In the scene, Brando and Andy Richter played a pair of priests who unsuccessfully try to exorcise Lyonne. Brando shot for a few days as a character named Father McFeely, but eventually had to drop out of production due to health concerns. This would’ve made Scary Movie 2 Brando’s final film role, but that distinction instead belongs to the 2001 heist film The Score. He passed away in 2004. After dropping from the film, the role of McFeely (a handsy priest) was reshot with James Woods. This would prove to be a questionable casting in hindsight, as Woods was called out in the #MeToo movement and later dropped by his agent.
Although Brando was unable to finish the part, Lyonne recalls in an interview with EW (via Indiewire) what a weird experience their time together was, but not necessarily in a bad way. The script had Brando’s character flirting with the demon inside her and at one point had the two of them writhing on the bed. She recounts he had an oxygen tank with him (as a prop for the scene), an earpiece in his ear feeding him lines, and how he “just kind of held my boob.” At the moment she remembers thinking. “Ah, this is the surrealism that André Breton, Salvador Dali were talking about.” See her comments below:
“So, I had Brando with the earpiece and the hand on the boob, and the makeup, and ‘The power of Christ compels you,’ and not to curse, but, ‘Your mother sucks c—s in hell,’ and so on. This was all happening at once, and I remember like, ‘You know, showbiz is all right.’ In that moment, showbiz was A-OK.”
Lyonne, star of Netflix’s twisty Russian Doll series, is no stranger to surrealism, getting her start in acting at the age of 6 on the epitome of goofball surrealism, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. While Brando had earned a reputation, often not unfairly, for being a difficult actor to work with, he had his fair share of supporters, Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola among them. Lyonne seems to look back on the situation with a certain fondness, too, recalling how “chatty” Brando was on set, and noting that she’s kept a VHS copy of the dailies from filming.
It’s heartening in some ways to know Lyonne enjoyed her time on the project, despite what sounds like could have easily been a very uncomfortable situation. The oddball nature of the scenario seems like something she’s chalked up to being just another bizarre chapter in the life of a professional actor. And having the rare treasure of an iconic actor like Marlon Brando‘s true final performance immortalized on tape seems like Natasha Lyonne made it out of filming Scary Movie 2 with plenty to remember.