Remembering Marlon Brando

OF ALL THE LEVELS OF CONNECTION, the most consistent was humor. Humor, often meaning practical jokes. There was no one more gifted in this arena or as skilled a craftsman as Marlon. He possessed the sense of humor – which we both shared – of a child. I once asked him why it was that farts were always funny. He replied, “Because they are blatantly anti-social.”

He once asked if I would play a small part in a film he was going to do in Ireland. I agreed and asked if I shouldn't’t maybe take a look at the script. He advised me not to worry about it; I was simply going to play a journalist from ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine in New York. Simple enough, I concurred.

Friday evening, upon arrival, I was invited to dinner at his place. I had hidden in my pocket a brilliant little rubber device that, once mastered and properly lubricated, would emit the most genuine-sounding farts in the history of counterfeit fart noises.

He graciously greeted me at the front door and welcomed me in. As we approached the den, I put a firm squeeze on the contraption. BRRRTTTT. A quizzical look from Marlon. “Very good, John.” We sat on the couch. “Sorry, I ate something weird on the plane, I’m having a little..." BBBZZZRRRTT! once again. “Jesus, John, what the hell did you eat???” PPPHHHHRRRTTT!!!

I kept him going on for a good half-hour and only let up when his laughter turned to an expression of worry and he was reaching for the phone to get a doctor. “Ah... that’s not normal, John, you’re not well. You’re sick. You’re ripping about three beauties a minute and… ah, that’s just not right.”

My own tear-filled laughter gave up the charade. I reached into my pocket and revealed the culprit. Marlon’s face lit up like a Christmas tree, the smile of a five-year-old. I handed the fart unit to him, he held it up to the light and exclaimed, “I've found God!!!” I was so proud that, after a couple of years of being on the receiving end of Marlon’s practical jokes, I was finally able to swing back and connect big-time. But we were both winners, as the fart machine became a source of entertainment for many years.

After dinner, he informed me that since I was to begin shooting the film on Monday, I would need to meet the director tomorrow, Saturday. The next afternoon we went through a few costume possibilities and I was introduced to Tom, our director.

“How do you do? Nice to meet you. How’s the accent coming?”

“What????” I can still feel the look on my face and the panic that surged through my body. “What accent??!!” Tom looked at me quizzically; he recognized my panic as well as I did.

“The Dublin accent. Didn’t you read the script? You’re playing a reporter from Dublin!" I, officially, now had less than a day and a half to come up with a decent Irish accent before 5 a.m. Monday. Marlon nearly split himself in two laughing. He'd been planning this rotten trick for months.

Johnny Depp


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