Rita Moreno is brutally honest when discussing one of the takeaways from her near-decade relationship with Marlon Brando: “He was a bad guy when it came to women.” The EGOT-winning icon said as much to Jessica Chastain when the two actresses joined each other for a conversation as part of Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, presented by Amazon Studios. Chastain was the first to bring up Brando, telling Moreno, “I think you are every bit of the actor Marlon Brando was. That must have been so difficult for you in a time where you’re seeing all of these opportunities being given to him.”
“He and I had had a relationship for almost eight years. Ultimately, it was exciting to be with Marlon,” Moreno replied. “Oh, my God, it was exciting. He was extraordinary in many, many ways, but he was a bad guy. He was a bad guy when it came to women. I was such a different person then. I had all the makings of a doormat.”
Moreno continued, “So whenever he lied, I would look at him and I’d say, ‘Marlon, look at me.’ And he’d start to grin this kind of — I don’t want to use the bad word — that poop-eating grin. I could read him like a book and that’s why he loved me, and that’s why he mistreated me in so many ways. I tried to end my life with pills in his house. That’s how I tried to do it. I didn’t understand that if I was going to kill this pathetic, sad, trod-upon Rita, the rest of Rita was also going to go with me. I really didn’t seem to understand that. But that’s what the attempt was. It was an attempt.”
When Chastain asked if there was “a rebirth in a positive way” following the suicide attempt, Moreno answered, “After that, a few years later, was the movie we made together. What’s interesting is that he wanted to renew. I was now married. I had a beautiful child, Fernanda. He was ready to have a go again. I didn’t want that. But he did. He lost a big part of himself, I think. The good part of him, the good Marlon that Rita loved. It was very complicated. Really, really complicated.”
The “West Side Story” Oscar winner first revealed in her 2021 PBS documentary, “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It,” that her toxic relationship with Brando led her to attempt suicide. The actress also spoke in the doc about an abortion Brando made her get after she became pregnant with his child.
Watch Moreno and Chastain’s full “Actors on Actors” conversation in the video below.
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