Rita Moreno on Marlon Brando ‘He was a Bad Guy’
During a conversation with Jessica Chastain for Variety‘s “Actors on Actors” series, the West Side Story actress, 90, said that Brando was “a bad guy when it came to women” after Chastain brought him up, saying, “I think you are every bit of the actor Marlon Brando was. That must have been so difficult for you in a time where you’re seeing all of these opportunities being given to him.”
Moreno and Brando met when she was 22 on the set of the 1954 Napoleon biopic Désirée. They had a nearly-eight-year relationship.
“Ultimately, it was exciting to be with Marlon. Oh, my God, it was exciting,” she told Chastain. “He was extraordinary in many, many ways, but he was a bad guy. He was a bad guy when it came to women. I was such a different person then. I had all the makings of a doormat.”
“So whenever he lied, I would look at him and I’d say, ‘Marlon, look at me.’ And he’d start to grin this kind of — I don’t want to use the bad word — that poop-eating grin,” Moreno continued. “I could read him like a book and that’s why he loved me, and that’s why he mistreated me in so many ways. I tried to end my life with pills in his house. That’s how I tried to do it.”
The EGOT-winning actress added, “I didn’t understand that if I was going to kill this pathetic, sad, trod-upon Rita, the rest of Rita was also going to go with me. I really didn’t seem to understand that. But that’s what the attempt was. It was an attempt.”
The pair later costarred in the 1969 film The Night of the Following Day. Moreno recalled that Brando — who died in 2004 at age 80 — wanted to get back together.
“What’s interesting is that he wanted to renew. I was now married. I had a beautiful child, Fernanda. He was ready to have a go again,” she said. “I didn’t want that. But he did. He lost a big part of himself, I think. The good part of him, the good Marlon that Rita loved. It was very complicated. Really, really complicated.”
Back in 2017, Moreno told PEOPLE that Brando was the “lust” of her life and revealed she kept a photo of The Godfather actor in her bedroom.
“Why that picture of Marlon Brando? Because he was a big love of mine in my life,” Moreno said at the time. “This one, it almost seems like a vignette out of a movie, so that’s why it’s there. He was the lust of my life and that over there is the love of my life,” admitted Moreno, gesturing to a framed photo of her with her late husband Leonard Gordon, whom she wed in 1965.
The actress’s life, career and tumultuous relationship with Brando were detailed in the documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It, now streaming on Netflix. “He was the daddy that I couldn’t please. I didn’t know that, I wasn’t aware of that at all,” Moreno said in the documentary. “But he was the one I wanted to please, he was the one I wanted to be married to.”