Danger is the most important essence an actor can bring to the stage because it is nigh impossible to capture. The most dangerous actor in the history of the American Theatre is Marlon Brando.
When Brando walked onto a live stage, you never knew if he was going to hit someone, start crying or begin a war within himself. Every single second of him on stage seethed with rage and heartache.
Brando was always exploding and self-destructing and you loved every living moment of torment he created just for you in a moment never to be had again beyond the stage lights; you could not peel your eyes from Brando on a live stage because you feared for your fourth wall safety.
Brando preternaturally brought tension, conflict and threats to the stage and that is why we always love and admire how he singlehandedly changed the landscape of American acting. His danger transformed our every expectation.
Have there been other American actors who carried the same sense of danger and threatening on stage with them? No. Not Anthony Quinn or James Coburn or Jack Palance Robert De Niro or Al Pacino or even James Dean. None of them could touch the danger in Brando.
In 1947, Marlon Brando found international stardom in the Ethel Barrymore theatre starring on Broadway as Stanley Kowalski in the world debut of Tennessee Williams’ play, “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Unfortunately, like so many American stage actors before him — and since him — once Hollywood called, Marlon never again returned to the live stage. At the age of 23, and with the rest of our lives ahead of him, Brando abandoned the theatre forever to become a movie star.
The American stage has yet to recover from the loss of Marlon Brando on a live stage — and yet we’ll never be the same without him.