As Elia Kazan's directing career slowed down he turned his attention to writing novels. Two of them, "The Arrangement" and "The Assassins", made it to the best seller list. Kazan had plans of turning "The Arrangement" into a screenplay which he would cast and direct. When his screenplay was ready, it was time to focus his attention on casting. From the beginning Marlon Brando was his first choice to play the lead.
At his best Brando was Kazan's favorite actor. He possessed all the qualities necessary to deliver great performances on a consistent basis. His five consecutive Academy Award nominations, three in Kazan Directed films, were proof positive of his talent and skill.
When it came time to cast Brando, Kazan had uncharacteristic doubts. Apparently Brando had told Kazan that he had lost his enthusiasm for acting. This comment concerned Kazan. He wanted, needed, the Brando that delivered stellar performances for him in "A Streetcar Named Desire", "Viva Zapata", and "On The Waterfront". He was no longer interested in extracting or "pushing" a performance from his actors. As great as Brando was, Kazan didn't want to run the risk of a lackluster performance due to a loss of "enthusiasm". There was too much at stake to risk a mediocre outcome.
As it turned out Brando, who was a social activist, was so devastated by Martin Luther King's assassination, and how it affected the fate of the country, that he was in no condition emotionally or psychologically to accept the role. Kazan, knowing fully what he wanted and needed went to Plan B, Kirk Douglas.
In this business where the stakes are extremely high even the best of the best are not immune to criticism or rejection. Everyone must be at their best at all times and display the type of attitude that makes them the go-to-guy or gal. Acting jobs are scarcer than hens teeth and even in the best of times it is extremely difficult to get work. Working on a consistent basis is that much more difficult. So if you have the talent and skill to act on a regular basis the last thing you want is to become the director's "problem child". No actor is indispensable. In the 12 years that "Mash" remained one of the most popular sitcoms on TV, numerous actors came and went, and the show maintained a standard of excellence that transcended any one actor.
If Brando could be replaced, so can you.
Sent from my iPhone