Occasionally on location he would sortie like an overage wild one on his Honda, buzzing over the rolling grasslands to scoop up pieces of petrified wood as souvenirs. At least one local, a rancher's daughter, was not pleased. "How would he like us to come to Tahiti and take back his best seashells?" she said. But there was no other misbehavior. At a local bistro, Gramma's Other Room, Brando signed autographs and danced to his favorite Mexican tunes. He and Nicholson appeared in public to be the best of buddies even though, as neighbors on Mulholland Drive in L.A., they almost never see each other.
The only woman in Brando's retinue was Alice Marchak, the secretary who has given him 20 years of her life and has just co‑authored a gossipy if reverent book, The Supersecs. No love interest accompanied Brando to Montana, although he insisted that a 20‑year‑old photographer named Stefani Kong, the daughter of an old friend, be allowed to roam the set.
It's no secret that his last lady was Lucy Saroyan, now 29, a would‑be actress, daughter of William Saroyan and stepdaughter of Walter Matthau. Only last November she helped Brando corral the likes of Ethel Kennedy and Bette Midler for a radical chic $100-a‑plate "First Americans" gala at the Waldorf. Lucy admits the party's over now. That still leaves his common-law wife, Tarita, the Tahitian dishwasher whom he met during Mutiny on the Bounty, and their two sons and a daughter. Brando also has one son by both of his ex‑wives, Christian by the English‑born Indian faker Anna Kashfi, and Miko by the Mexican actress Movita. Though Brando said, "My children are never allowed on my sets," Miko, 15, was in evidence in Montana with his girlfriend, claiming "I'm an understudy from New York."
Brando, who acts as if he intends to hang up his buskins for good after every movie, still needs money and obviously relishes the work once he gets on a set. Francis Ford Coppola is after him for Apocalypse Now, his statement on Vietnam, and Missouri Breaks producer Kastner wants him to play the self‑doubting psychiatrist in a film version of Equus.
Brando lugs around the psychic baggage for the part ‑a mother who turned alcoholic, children legit and illegit, suicide attempts by a past mistress (Rita Moreno) and past wife (Anna Kashfi), persistent rumors of free‑wheeling sexuality, and of an exotic South Seas disease. Man's fate obsesses Brando, but other men's, rather than his own. Young actor Edward Albert, who spent several months in Tahiti with him, says, "It's as if somebody had put an angel inside of him, and it's more than he can contain." What comes out is sometimes paranoid‑sounding gibberish that puts down the FBI, the CIA, the media ("we are televisioned to death, lied to death"). But Brando is probably far more sincere than Hollywood's more facile liberals, and sometimes his primitive, if powerful, mind makes sense on subjects like pollution, overpopulation and aggression. "The shark, the termite, the cockroach," he says, "have run their business a lot better than those with endless amounts of gray matter. They have survived millions of years and are probably much happier than man. It may be 30 times easier for us to live than our grandfather, but are we 30 times happier? I'm not, I don't think." What agonizes him most is that too few people take him any more seriously than an actor doing an appeal for the Will Rogers TB hospital. He has yet to realize fully that only when he acts does the earth move.