Elia Kazan's Private Letters: Paul Newman's Masculinity 'More Actual' Than Marlon Brando's
"He's just as good looking as Brando," Kazan wrote in 1953 of his deliberations in casting 'On the Waterfront.'
This story first appeared in the April 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Kazan had a close relationship with Marlon Brando that spanned decades, but he often expressed doubts about whether the actor was right for a part, as seen in this letter to screenwriter Budd Schulberg about On the Waterfront (for which Kazan, Schulberg and Brando would win Oscars) in which he suggests possibly casting a young Paul Newman.
Late July 1953
To Budd Schulberg
I'm not insane about Brando for this. In fact, in my opinion he is quite wrong. But he's a fine actor and if he's really excited about it and will work like a beginner trying to get a start, he can be fine. He's got to be hungry and anxious. The power to be that disappears with your picture on an ad. If we don't get Brando, I'm for Paul Newman. This boy will definitely be a film star. I have absolutely no doubt. He's just as good looking as Brando, and his masculinity, which is strong, is also more actual. He's not as good an actor as Brando yet, and probably will never be. But he's a darn good actor with plenty of power, plenty of insides, plenty of sex.
Excerpted from THE SELECTED LETTERS OF ELIA KAZAN, edited by Albert J. Devlin with Marlene J. Devlin. copyright © 2014 by FrancesKazan published by Arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, An imprint of the Knopf DoubledAy publishing group, A division of Random House LLC