Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Who Ended up Being "The Next Brando"?

For as long as I can remember, many up-and-coming actors have been given the appellation, The Next Brando. A few names that come to mind:

James Dean

Paul Newman
Steve McQueen
Christopher Jones
John Saxon
Horst Bucholz
Russell Crowe
Mickey Rourke

Sean Penn
Steven Hill
Martin Landau
Burt Reynolds
Al Pacino
James Caan
Robert De Niro
Ben Gazzara
John Cassavetes
Peter Falk
Martin Sheen

...and many more, I'm sure...

So who came closest to being "The Next Brando", and what the Hell does that actually mean? Has there been anyone with that kind of effect on the acting profession?

On a related note, I remember a Siskel & Ebert show where they compared the careers of Humphrey Bogart and Jack Nicholson...do these actors have any acolytes?

I guess the influence of Marlon Brando is everywhere, even if it isn't readily acknowledged by today's "hot" stars.

I have more questions than answers when it comes to this (or any other) topic, but I was hoping this could be hashed out in the comments section. Feel free to speak your mind about this important world issue.

Okay... sing, you sinners!

There Will Never Be Another You: Marlon Brando.


  1. Well, it depends on what your criteria for the next Brando is. Generally when people are proclaimed the next anybody it's because of superficial reasons. Think of all the people who have gotten dubbed the next Marilyn Monroe because they have blonde hair. But they've never had any sort of impact like the original. If somebody could be considered the next Brando, them having the whole rebellious image is only part of it. For example, I would consider Marilyn Monroe "the next Jean Harlow" because she was a continuation of the blonde bombshell comedienne and had a similar influence on people. She couldn't have had that influence if she had been superficially more like Jean Harlow.

    As for the original question, I really don't know. Has there been another Brando? Some sort of strange cross between James Dean, Paul Newman, and Johnny Depp? But still enough of an original to have a profound influence on acting?

  2. I think I would agree with Merriam. (Hahaha, that's so much easier than offering my own opinion...)

    Johnny Depp seems to be (and I have heard him referred to as) the next Marlon Brando (not that we need another one...Marlon's not a favorite of mine).

    Johnny has that kind of Hollywood outsider, rebelliousness, risk-taker attitude!

  3. There wasn't ever another Brando because he was one of a kind (like Cary Grant--I don't care who anyone says is "the new Cary Grant"), although all those suggestions are reasonable ones. Almost every major modern actor I've heard interviewed adored Brando and claimed him as a major influence and inspiration. When he made "A Streetcar Named Desire" he was said to bring a new realism and a new style of acting to the screen. Yet in retrospect his performances often strike me as just as contrived (although in a different way) as the old-style Acting of the studio days. By the end of his career he seemed like a caricature of himself. Has anyone seen him in "The Island of Dr. Moreau"? Positively grotesque. Yet there are intimations of this artificiality and self-parody in earlier performances--even such acclaimed ones as "Sayonara," "Apocalypse Now," and--yes--even "The Godfather." The special TCM did on him not so long ago gave the clear impression that he was quite ambivalent about acting and in some ways actually hated it. I think of Brando as the male actor who dominated the 50s. For me Paul Newman dominated the 60s, Jack Nicholson the 70s, and Robert de Niro the 80s. All of these resemble Brando in their intensity but don't really call to my mind his on-screen personality. His real importance may be as an inspiration more than as a model for imitation.

  4. Peter Falk? When was he considered the next Brando??

  5. Falk wasn't considered the next Brando, but he "happened to be in the neighborhood..."


  6. I agree with R.D. here, Brando was one of a kind, like Grant and James Dean. Brando changed acting. I cannot think of any other actor as influential as Brando. True, he ended up not respecting his profession but we are still left with some magnificent performances, Streetcar, Viva Zapata, On the Waterfront, The Men to name a few.
    I also, concur with R.D.'s assessment of the dominating actors of each decade, all of who would not be what they are if it were not for Brando.

  7. How could Johnny Depp be "the next Brando" when their acting styles are so different? At least I can't see Brando as Edward Scissorhands or Captain Sparrow... ;)

  8. no one is the next brando...he was the best and god broke the mould...
    someone said he dominated the 50s, they forget that he made 6 films in the 70s, 4 were outright box office hits, 2 were the greatest films of that decade, if not of all time...so he dominated the 70s....nicholson just made more movies and some classics at that...

    the best part is that when ever i see a depp performance or a penn performance even leo, u see a shade of brando there, not newman, not deniro, but brando, a look a gesture which is all brando

  9. I'm not so sure *anyone* dominated the 1960s, it seemed like such a wide-open decade! Many actors were at their peak: Peter O'Toole, Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster (at least I think so), Steve McQueen, and Richard Burton all come to mind but I don't think they had any impact on acting like Brando did.

    Nicholson in the first half of the 70s had a similar run to Marlon's early-1950s work, but it all comes from Brando in terms of influence and I don't detect a Nicholson influence on anyone. Marlon was special, and absolutely one of a kind.

    As for the direct descendent of the Brando line, my vote goes to Sean Penn, who finally has some decent movies to go along with the inspired performances. Plus, he's got that social bent and kooky personality to go with it! After twenty-plus years, Penn's living up to the "Next Brando" tag. It'll be interesting to see how future generations are influenced by him--if at all. I just hope that there's a 1970s-style rennaissance in film like there was after the death of the Code. It doesn't seem likely with a generation's love of special effects and video game/comic book/CGI movies. Hollywood's spending billions to keep me out of the theater!

    Somewhat off-topic: I know Olivier's name gets bandied about as a great actor, but is that more for his stage work? I don'y know enough about him or British actors to gauge his impact. How does he rate against Alec Guinness, John Gielgud and the rest? I have a lot of learnin' to do...

  10. I don't know if I agree that Jack Nicholson has not had an inflence on any actor. What about Christian Slater? Also he has 12 Oscar nominations, more than Brando had, and he continues to make movies in his 70s, as Brando did.

  11. oscar nominations has nothing to do with it...brando made less than 40 movies and got oscar nominated 8 times...nicholson has done around 80+ movies and got nominated 12 times...thats an average of nearly 6.6 movies per nomination, while brando's average is less than 5...so u see acting chops have nothing to do with numbers, its not a sport....

  12. Good question, CK. I agree with you that Sean Penn probably comes the nearest to having the same sort of intensity out of the current generation - I'd go for De Niro and Pacino as having the same kind of quality too. But none of them really seems anything like Brando to me.

    On Olivier, I never saw him on stage but understand he was magnificent - my grandmother saw him and Gielgud when they were young in a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Old Vic where they took it in turns to play Romeo on alternate nights, and she said they were both brilliant. I think he is a great actor in film too, though, although very stagey - 'The Entertainer' is a wonderful film where he plays against type as a failed music hall act, and his Shakespeare productions like Hamlet are great too. Oh yes, and I love him in Wuthering Heights... I also like Gielgud a lot but have mainly seen him in productions where he was much older. Both he and Olivier are great in Brideshead Revisited when they were about 80... I've never been such a big fan of Alec Guinness although he is always spoken of as a great actor, he is just not one of my favourites. Judy

  13. Modern actors seem to me made of plastic compared to old movie stars. They all were unique and this the-next-great-actor stuff is just a way to promote and shoot to stardom otherwise mediocre performers. Talented people in any field don't need to draw on someone else, they are able to create their own image and leave a trail.
    As for Olivier, he was the greatest ever Shakespeare actor (his Hamlet, Richard III, Henry IV or Macbeth are unsurpassed displays of intensity, deep insight into the characters’ inwardness, subtlety and richness of emotional palette) that could probably put us in mind of Edmund Kean, although we can only judge his art by his contemporaries reviews.

    Young Brando was one of those splendid actors (I don't remember the title of the movie he co-starred in with Anna Magniani, another great actress) whose acting stirs your blood and tugs at your heartstrings. Sadly, by the end of his career he became a shadow of his former self in every sense.

  14. anna magnani movie - fugitive kind


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