Drunk With Brando

Douglas McCollam recounts how Truman Capote scored an intimate session with Marlon Brando, in order to write his famous New Yorker profile of the actor:

It was the subject of Brando’s mother that apparently came out as the interview stretched past 1 a.m. As Capote wrote in his piece, “I poured some vodka; Brando declined to join me. However, he subsequently reached for my glass, sipped from it, set it down between us, and suddenly said in an offhand way that nonetheless conveyed feeling, ‘My mother. She broke apart like a piece of porcelain. . . . My father was indifferent to me. Nothing I could do interested him, or pleased him. I’ve accepted that now. We’re friends now. We get along.’ ”

Brando then went on to describe how growing up he’d come home to an empty house and an empty icebox. “The telephone would ring. Somebody calling from the bar. And they’d say, ‘We’ve got a lady down here. You better come get her.’” Later, when Brando was on Broadway, his mother came to live with him in New York. “I thought if she loved me enough, trusted me enough, I thought then we can be together, in New York; we’ll live together and I’ll take care of her. . . . I tried so hard. But my love wasn’t enough. . . . And one day, I didn’t care anymore. She was there. In a room. Holding onto me. And I let her fall. Because I couldn’t take it any more—watch her breaking apart, in front of me, like a piece of porcelain. I stepped right over her. I walked right out. I was indifferent.”

… Never before had the inner psyche of a star of Brando’s magnitude been served up for public consumption, much less by a writer of Capote’s stature. This was something new.

Previous Dish on Capote and the book that ended his career, here.