Francis Ford Coppola was at TIFF Bell Lightbox Sunday, for a Mavericks In Conversation session hosted by Cameron Bailey, the festival's co-director. (Peter Bregg/Getty Images)
Was Marlon Brando's unique acting style based on his poor memory?
So says filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, who directed Brando in The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, and who got to know the irascible actor's methods intimately.
Coppola was at TIFF Bell Lightbox Sunday, for a Mavericks In Conversation session hosted by Cameron Bailey, the festival's co-director.
They chatted about films old and new, the latter including Twixt, the film Coppola is premiering at TIFF. Memories of the late Brando got the most laughs.
Coppola said he and Brando would spend hours on set discussing all manner of topics, a method he used both to loose the actor up and also to record his thoughts on tape.
He'd later use the tape to fashion dialogue for Brando to follow, line by line.
"Brando tended to have a bad memory. I'm convinced his acting style was based on that," Coppola said.
"He'd go, 'Oh, I dunno I dunno'... He was literally trying to remember the line!"He was a master of using cue cards. So what I would do is I would have him recite the monologue that was derived from these hours of discussions ...
"And then he had these long monologues and he had a little tape recorder in his pocket. And he could just play it and then hear the line and then he could say the line. That's how he could remember those things."
— Peter Howell