Kal-El wasn't a big fan of his dad behind-the-scenes on 1978's Superman: The Movie. Christopher Reeve revealed in an interview back in the early 1980s that he did not have fond memories of working with the legendary Marlon Brando, who he claims, "phoned in" his performance. By the time of the late 1970s, Marlon Brando gained a reputation of a once great actor who enjoyed money, but hated to work and was notoriously difficult on the set. It appears that was the mode that Brando was in when he signed on for Superman to play Jor-El alongside Christopher Reeve's Superman.
The Hollywood Reporter recently uncovered an interview with Christopher Reeve on David Letterman's show in 1982 where he talked about what a bummer it was working with Marlon Brando. "I just think it would be sad to be 53, or whatever he is, and not give a damn, that's all," the late actor said of his onscreen father. Reeve was looking forward to working with Marlon Brando, like any young actor, he had studied the elder's amazing body of work, but unfortunately, the iconic actor was just in it for the paycheck. Christopher Reeve is incredibly candid in the interview with David Letterman and continued to demystify the myth of Marlon Brando. Christopher Reeve went on to say that he feels that Marlon Brando has "copped out in a certain way." Reeve explains.
"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. 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."
Reeve also said that he thought that Brando could have been a mentor to the young actors on the set, but that was obviously not to be. After making it clear that he would say all of these things to Brando's face, Reeve said, "he could be a real leader for us."
When asked if it was exciting to work with Marlon Brando, Reeve replied, "Not really. No. I had a wonderful time, but the man didn't care. He just took the $2 million (salary) and ran." Due to inflation, that would be a nearly $8-million-dollar payout in 2017's currency, which is quite a bit of cash, even for back then. Christopher Reeve finished up by saying that he still believed that Marlon Brando was a "brilliant actor," at one point in his career, just not when Reeve had the chance to work with him.
The Christopher Reeve interview pops up just in time for the Justice League promotional tour, which is expected to see the return of Henry Cavill's portrayal of the Man of Steel. It's an exciting time to be a fan of Superman, which is partly due to Christopher Reeve's portrayal of the character 40 years ago. You can check out the entire interview with Christopher Reeve talking about his experiences with Marlon Brando on the set of 1978's Superman below, courtesy of Marmar's YouTube channel.