Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Top 10 Takeaways: 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' Opens Strong, But Summer 2015 Has Peaked Top 10 Takeaways: 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' Opens Strong, But Summer 2015 Has Peaked Arthouse Audit: Controversy Reigns as 'End of the Tour' Tops Limited Newbies and Weinstein Dumps Jeunet's Latest Arthouse Audit: Controversy Reigns as 'End of the Tour' Tops Limited Newbies and Weinstein Dumps Jeunet's Latest Friday Box Office: Cruise and 'Mission: Impossible' Do Their Part, But Grosses Lag Friday Box Office: Cruise and 'Mission: Impossible' Do Their Part, But Grosses Lag Fall Calendar Reveals Awards Itinerary and Stealth Contenders Fall Calendar Reveals Awards Itinerary and Stealth Contenders Sarajevo Film Fest Lineup Has Auteurs, Cannes Winners and Favorites Sarajevo Film Fest Lineup Has Auteurs, Cannes Winners and Favorites Jason Segel Takes On David Foster Wallace in Controversial 'End of the Tour' (VIDEO) Jason Segel Takes On David Foster Wallace in Controversial 'End of the Tour' (VIDEO) First Look: Cynthia Nixon Plays—and Narrates—Emily Dickinson in Two Films First Look: Cynthia Nixon Plays—and Narrates—Emily Dickinson in Two Films Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Read Martin Scorsese's Column on His Favorite Hollywood Leading Ladies Read Martin Scorsese's Column on His Favorite Hollywood Leading Ladies A Woman in Charge: Warner Bros. Names Sue Kroll Head of Global Distribution A Woman in Charge: Warner Bros. Names Sue Kroll Head of Global Distribution Netflix and Marvel Shake Up TCAs, Amazon Rescues Bryan Cranston Pilot Netflix and Marvel Shake Up TCAs, Amazon Rescues Bryan Cranston Pilot 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A)

What Actors Can Learn from Marlon Brando, Ellen Page and James Franco (VIDEO)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 20, 2014 at 12:58PM

James Franco is no fool. He has made a study of how to survive in Hollywood as he pursues multiple careers--without worrying about how he will be judged. Whether it will be fulfilling or not is up to him. He gets that the relationship between him and his audience is complicated.
2
Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando
Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf

James Franco is no fool. He has made a study of how to survive in Hollywood as he pursues multiple careers--without worrying about how he will be judged. Whether it will be fulfilling or not is up to him. He gets that the relationship between him and his audience is complicated. And that the only way to combat all the sycophancy and craziness from agents, managers, lawyers, producers, publicists, filmmakers, executives and the media is to try to be himself, for better or worse, and not get hung up on everyone else's expectations and desires. 27-year-old Shia LaBeouf's recent behavior--and the media response-- has prompted Franco to try and explain what he thinks is happening, in the NYT. 

Marlon Brando was one Hollywood movie star who struggled to remain authentic under the most trying circumstances, hating obsequious questions from the press, whether in English or French. He challenged the media and turned down the Oscar in 1973: "These were acts of rebellion against an industry that practically forces an actor to identify with his persona," writes Franco, "while at the same time repeatedly wresting it from him."

Clearly, some actors have more trouble dealing with the divide between their public and private selves; see Joaquin Phoenix, who was inspired to act out in Casey Affleck's perhaps ill-advised mock doc "I'm Still Here."

Many actors choose to chart their own course. George Clooney, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Matthew McConaughey are examples of stars who have played the studio game until they found a new direction. Sandra Bullock told me that for a long time she tried to please others until she saw that being true to herself was what mattered. You can tell the actors who are grounded, who have a sense of who they are and how to present themselves professionally during personal interactions. Bullock weathered a terrible beating from the media when she broke up with her husband and adopted a child. And came out the other side.

Another actress who has embraced her true self is Ellen Page, who came out as a lesbian recently, saying, "I am tired of hiding."

See the clip below for the Maysles brothers' must-see 27-minute documentary "Meet Marlon Brando," now streaming on Fandor. In this assemblage of press interviews with Brando promoting "Morituri," a movie most of his interlocuters had not yet seen, the star doesn't take compliments well--he thinks it's all balderdash, complains he's getting fat, and resorts to flirting with the younger women, observing the length of the men's fingernails, and answering in French and German. The press junket hasn't changed much since then. Unfortunately. Who can blame LaBeouf for walking out of a Berlin press conference for "Nymphomaniac?"

This article is related to: James Franco, Shia LaBeouf, Ben Affleck, George Clooney, George Clooney, Ellen Page, Video, Video


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.