Marlon Brando: The Good Actor

Photograph by Sam Shaw

Interview with Marlon Brando
Conducted by James Grissom

Only the young, the incompetent, and the mischievous talk about their work. Is there anything more boring than enduring the discussion of an artist as he dissects his own work? This is Hell. I used to play games with writers and critics and tell them I had been devouring the work of Rimbaud and Swinburne in order to play a certain part, and they would puff up and become very important in their reviews as they pinpointed precisely where I was veering into the influence of these writers. Then I'd call them and apologize and tell them that I had actually been reading Conrad and Crane, and they would just shuffle their index cards and their brains and show me where they could see the influence. It's all bullshit. Everything we have seen or heard or read is in everything we do, and it's no good to try to insert it into something willfully. The soul of the artist is willful, but the work cannot be. You just let it emanate from you in the course of study, and the good and honest actor will never know where it came from or what worked. The good actor simply is. The good actor is always awake and aware and stealing away what must ultimately be shared. But you do not--and cannot--know where it will all land. Good or bad, you cannot know where it will land.

©  2014  James Grissom


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