Christoper Reeve Was Unhappy With Marlon Brando's 'Superman' Performance

Christopher Reeve wanted up, up and away from his Superman co-star, multiple Academy Award winner Marlon Brando.

Brando, who played Jor-El, doomed father of future superhero Kal-El (Reeve), didn't take the role seriously. Their time together left Reeve less than impressed with the acting legend.

“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,” Reeve said during a 1982 interview with David Letterman, as uncovered by THR. “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,” Reeve explained. "I just think it's too bad that the man has kind of been forced into that hostility."

"I had a wonderful time, but the man didn't care," Reeve said when asked by Letterman if it was "exciting" to work with Brando, who became that Hollywood institution from roles in On the Waterfront and The Godfather. "I'm sorry, you know, he just took the $2 million and ran."

The earnest Reeve then said his frustration with Brando came from the veteran actor's lack of care and his not taking a leadership role with the younger generation of actors.

"I just still care," Reeve said. "I'm a real beginner, and I just care so much that it hurts when someone's phoning it in. He is a wonderful actor, he's a brilliant man, but at this moment he just doesn't motivate. That's all I mean to say."

Superman director Richard Donner opened up on his own interactions with Brando last year, recounting how the esteemed thespian wanted to play Jor-El as a bagel.

"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,'" Donner recalled. "He said, 'How do we know what the people on Krypton looked like?'"


Donner's recollection of the events also had agent Jay Kanter warning him about the actor, who said Brando would want to "play it like a green suitcase."

“I said, 'What does that mean?'" Donner asked of Kanter. "'It means he hates to work and he loves money, so if he can talk you into the fact that the people on Krypton look like green suitcases and you only photograph green suitcases, he'll get paid just to do the voice-over. That’s the way his mind works.'"