Besides making method acting macho, Marlon Brando made Hollywood history by becoming the first actor to be paid a million dollars for a single film — 1959’s The Fugitive Kind. Here’s how he became worth his weight in gold.
THE GODFATHER (1972) For creating the role of Don Vito Corleone, Brando earned $250,000 plus a percentage of the film’s gross, which is believed to have brought him more than $2 million — the equivalent of $6.5 million today.
LAST TANGO IN PARIS (1972) This slippery role brought Brando approximately $3 million for his 10 percent of the film’s gross.
THE MISSOURI BREAKS (1976) The movie may have been a critical bomb, but Brando was paid $1.25 million plus 11.3 percent of all gross receipts over $8.85 million. Total take: about $16.5 million.
SUPERMAN (1978) As Jor-El, the Man of Steel’s dad, Brando makes his presence felt for a total of 15 minutes either on screen or doing a voice-over. Estimated paycheck: $3 million.
ROOTS: THE NEXT GENERATION (1979) Brando appears in one scene of this made-for-TV movie, playing American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell. Neither the amount of his paycheck nor the name of the Native American charity to which a donation was reportedly made has ever been made public.
APOCALYPSE NOW (1979) Brando appears in five scenes as Colonel Kurtz. With a reported base salary of $2 million and an additional percentage, Brando’s earnings could have reached $9 million.
THE FORMULA (1980) Three scenes in this thriller about synthetic fuel reportedly earned Brando $2.7 million.
A DRY WHITE SEASON (1989) Playing a South African attorney, Brando waived his usual fee because he believed in the film’s antiapartheid message. He was paid union scale.
THE FRESHMAN (1990) Sending up his Godfather character, Brando actually pulled his own weight in this film, for which he was reportedly paid between $2.5 million and $3 million.
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS: THE DISCOVERY (1992) The crème de la crème of cameos. For 12 days, Brando played the inquisitor Torquemada, roping in a hefty $5 million, which equals over $415,000 per day.