The Godfather

12 Film Role Opportunities That Marlon Brando Turned Down

Marlon Brando had one of the biggest influences on film and pop culture — still does. His most notable role was playing the mob boss Don Vito Corleone in the cult classic The Godfather. Even before then, he was a hot shot in the movie industry and a proud recipient of numerous accolades.

The virtuoso knew he was a top gun and reserved his artistry for projects that piqued his interest and creativity. Basically, he told Hollywood one too many times, “You need me, and I don’t need you.”

Well, some filmmakers made him offers he could refuse. Here are some that would surprise you the most.

1. A Star Is Born (1954)

A Star Is Born Judy Garland, James Mason
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

This is one of the most remade movies — the last remake featuring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. But about seven decades ago, Marlon Brando was also considered for the lead. I know, it’s painfully hard to imagine the mafioso in a musical. 

Marlon was insulted when he heard the movie’s pitch when he was approached on the set of another. He thought he was too much in the prime of his career to play an alcoholic has-been and pointed to his co-star, who he thought was fitter for the role. That’s some ice-cold savage move. 

2. Ben-Hur (1959)

Ben Hur Charlton Heston, Haya Harareet, Sam Jaffe, Cathy O'Donnell, Martha Scott
Image Credit: Loew’s, Inc.

There are many details about this epic film by William Wyler that many people do not know. One of them is that Marlon Brando was considered for the role of Judah Ben-Hur, which then went to Charlton Heston, who fans argue has more expertise in playing those roles. Still, we can’t help but wonder how Brando might have slayed it. 

3. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Again, only some roles appealed to this icon. Particularly not the part that involved him spending two years of his life in a desert on a camel. Brando turned down the role faster than it took a desert to dry up water and was pretty explicit in his refusal, too. 

4. The Graduate (1967)

Image Credit: United Artists.

The Graduate is one of the most beloved romantic dramas of the 60s and was among the highest-grossing films back then. Although Marlon Brando was not up for the part of the main lead, they made him a different offer to play Mr. Robinson, a family friend. The offer was not good enough for him. 

5. The Great Gatsby (1974)

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Based on a novel, this film has one of the most beautiful stories ever told. They approached Brando to play the part of the great Gatsby, but he wanted four million dollars- an unspeakable price then. Leonardo DiCaprio played the role of the lead character in the 2013 version.

6. The Big Lebowski (1998)

Image Credit: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment.

The Coen brothers did their magic in this classic film. Watching actors play a role that feels tailor-made for them is beautiful. That would have been the case for this movie, as the Coen brothers had Brando in mind in the making.

However, Brando could not be in it because of his poor health. The actor who got the role, David Huddleston, did remarkably well. 

7. Dances With Wolves (1990)

Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell
Image Credit: Orion Pictures.

This epic Western sees Kevin Costner in his feature directorial debut. It won seven Academy Awards, too! Costner initially considered casting Marlon Brando in the role, which he later gave to Maury Chaykin. He changed his mind about Brando because of the actor’s reputation as a “Hollywood diva.” 

8. Doctor Zhivago (1965)

Doctor Zhivago Tom Courtenay
Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

We’ve seen actors play a character so well that they outshined them, which can be both good and bad, in that the writer’s hard work could be undermined. David Lean, who approached Brando for Lawrence of Arabia and other films, wanted the star in this movie, too. He changed his mind because he did not want an actor to “overpower the character of Dr. Yuri Zhivago.”

9. Child’s Play (1972)

Child's Play Brad Dourif, Catherine Hicks, Alex Vincent
Image Credit: MGM/UA Communications Co.

The star is as petty as he is talented. His hilarious reputation as a “Hollywood diva” may not be so far-fetched. He had already started filming this when he realized James Mason, whom he suggested for the role of the drunk in A Star Is Born, had the better part. What goes around comes back around, eh?

10. Fat City (1972)

Fat City Stacy Keach
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

The director of this movie, John Huston, originally wanted Brando in it. However, Brando kept telling him he needed more time to think about it, leading Huston to believe he was not interested in the film. Stacy Keach then got the role. 

11. Le Rogue Et Le Noir (1954)

the red and the black 1954
Image Credit: Distributors Corporation of America (US).

Brando had already accepted the part of Julian Sorel. Still, he walked off from the film’s production after clashing with French director Claude Autant-Lara, with whom he had a dispute. The role went to Gérard Philipe.

12. Cleopatra (1963)

Cleopatra Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Brando would have played the role of Marc Anthony in this film. However, he was busy with the making of Mutiny on the Bounty (1962). The filmmakers were enthralled when they saw Richard Burton, who got the role, performing in a Broadway musical. 

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button