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Film

The hilarious reason Marlon Brando hung around in AOL chat rooms during the 1990s

@Russellisation

There are few actors quite as equally triumphant and eccentric as Marlon Brando, with the multi-Oscar-winning actor observed by Time magazine as the ‘Actor of the Century’ back at the turn of the new millennium. It was Marlon Brando’s eccentricities and particular conflict between distaining and delighting in his acting profession that has made him such a monolithic thespian.

Whilst he enjoyed a career of several iconic roles from Guys and Dolls’ Sky Masterson to The Godfather’s Don Vito Corleone, Brando’s life was marked with increasingly bizarre behaviour. Such infamous stories included tying his Nightcomers co-star Stephanie Beacham to a bed whilst he went for lunch, to suggesting that his character in Superman should look like a giant green doughnut, with each one adding to his endearing and troubling legacy. 

Passing away in 2004, with the benefit of recent accounts, it seems like something of a relief that Marlon Brando never made it to the fully-blossomed internet age where Twitter opinions go unmonitored online. This is because the actor and Hollywood personality had a surprising obsession with early AOL chat rooms, fascinated that he could access anyone in the world and appear as anyone

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As revealed in the book Marlon & Greg: My Life and Filmmaking Adventures with Hollywood’s Polar Opposites, “He’d go into those early ‘AOL’ chat rooms, pretending to be all sorts of people, thrilled that he could just exchange views with those who had no idea of who he was”. 

This was further confirmed in the later release of The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando by William J. Mann which details how the actor would spend hours online having political arguments with random people, with his account frequently being banned for telling others to “fuck off,” in a fit of rage.

Fitting in with the myth of the actor, Brando became known as one of the hardest performers to work with, a particular annoyance considering just how great he was in almost every role. One of his strangest outbursts came in the release of the 1996 movie The Island of Dr. Moreau where he became obsessed with the 71-centimetre-tall actor Nelson de La Rosa. 

Demanding that the actor became his sidekick in each and every one of his scenes, Brando asked if they could wear matching clothing for the duration of the movie. Fascinated by him, the actor repeatedly remarked, “You’re telling me there’s a man in there!?”. 

Despite such peculiar stories, Brando is still considered one of the greatest actors of all time. His mesmeric approach to the acting craft is so profound that he has become a posthumous sage for any budding thespian wishing to tread a similar path. So absorbing were his performances, and so revolutionary were his methods that we may never see someone quite as fascinating as the late Marlon Brando.