Marlon Brando on Stanley Kowalski: Not a Fantasy Left

Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh in the film version of Tennessee's A Streetcar Named Desire

Interview with Marlon Brando
Conducted by James Grissom
Via Telephone

I had to understand and respect Stanley, so I had to see through his eyes, and it wasn't that hard, because we all have some Stanley inside of us. I knew men like Stanley: simple, hard-working men who have been set out to walk on a short, hot, bumpy road. All Stanley wants is his own home, some respect, some pussy, and dinner and bed at the same time every night. Every once in a while he has his outside fun with the guys--poker, bowling, some strange, foreign pussy on the other side of town. This is his life, and if you look at it, he's as tragic as Blanche. Stanley rapes Blanche, but it's what she wanted, because her power in the past had been through sex: It's how she got men to give her some petty cash to paint Belle Reve or get some fancy clothes or turn on the lights. Blanche throws her sex at Stanley in the hopes of getting a place to stay, but her payment--her sex--is no longer any good. I think that's what drives Blanche crazy, and I told Jessica [Tandy] that. Imagine your mode of survival is cut off. Stanley just wants to have his own place with his wife and the kid on the way, and Blanche is willing to destroy it all just to get another guy to pay the bills. another sweet-smelling bath, another audience. I was able to see Blanche as the villain--as Stanley, you see. As Marlon, I feel terribly for her and her poetic soul, but she has entered a house and has lied and seduced and is willing to bring it all down, and Stanley has to stop that; Stanley has to protect his home. So Stanley destroys her the only way he knows how--through sex, which he bounces back at her like a bad check. Stanley wins, for now, but the bad times for Stanley are at the end of that short, bumpy road, and that's a play I imagined for myself many times, and I could love Stanley seeing him at that stage of his life, with none of his goods wanted any longer, and not a fantasy left to lift him up.

©  2014   James Grissom


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