Christopher Reeve wasn’t at all happy with Marlon Brando’s performance in the first ‘Superman’ movie, and accused him of only being in it for the money.
In an interview unearthed by The Hollywood Reporter, Reeve slated Brando for ‘phoning in’ his part of Superman’s father Jor-El at the beginning of the movie.
When asked if he enjoyed being on set with Brando, he told David Letterman in 1982: “Not really. No. I had a wonderful time, but the man didn’t care. He just took the $2 million [salary] and ran.”
He went on: “I don’t say this to be vicious, but I don’t worship at the altar of Marlon Brando, because I feel he’s copped out in a certain way.
“What happened is the press loved him whether he was good, bad or indifferent; that people just thought he was an institution no matter what he did, so he doesn’t care anymore.
“I just think it would be sad to be 53, or whatever he is, and not give a damn, that’s all. He could be a real leader for us.”
In fact, Brando made rather more than $2 million for the movie.
In the end, he was paid $3.7 million, plus a share of the movie’s profits, meaning that he pocketed a staggering $19 million, all told.
The actor was also approaching peak eccentricity at this point too, refusing to learn his lines. Cue cards had to be pinned to the chests of his co-stars instead.
And on meeting with director Richard Donner, Brando had some bizarre thoughts about how the Kryptonian might appear on screen.
Donner told THR in 2016: “He said, ‘Why don’t I play this like a bagel?’ I was ready for him to say ‘a green suitcase’ and he said ‘bagel.’ He said, ‘How do we know what the people on Krypton looked like?’ He had good logic. He said, ‘Maybe they looked like bagels up there in those days?’”
Luckily, Donner managed to persuade Brando that playing him as a man was preferable.