So It Turns Out Marlon Brando Wasn’t Great to Women

Rita Moreno has opened up about her relationship with the star, claiming Brando "was a bad guy when it came to women."

Marlon Brando and Rita Moreno visit on the set of the film 'Desiree', 1954. The couple dated for years; the actress recently claimed Brando "was a bad guy when it came to women."
Rita Moreno and Marlon Brando dated for nearly a decade.
20th Century-Fox/Getty Images

Unfortunately, it is rarely surprising these days to find out that a famous man has been accused of mistreating women. It is somehow even less surprising when the famous man in question is a 20th-century actor best known for roles in which his character mistreats women, like, for example, one Marlon Brando.

Rita Moreno has opened up about her nearly decade-long relationship with the late Hollywood icon, revealing that while dating the star was “exciting,” he “mistreated” her “in so many ways” that Moreno actually considered suicide at one point.

“I tried to end my life with pills in his house. That’s how I tried to do it,” Moreno told Jessica Chastain during an interview for Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series.

After first revealing the suicide attempt in her 2021 PBS documentary, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It, Moreno opened up about the toxic nature of her relationship with Brando during her recent conversation with Chastain.

“He and I had had a relationship for almost eight years. Ultimately, it was exciting to be with Marlon,” said the West Side Story star. “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.”

It’s worth noting that Moreno is not the first woman to suggest that Brando was “a bad guy when it came to women.” The star’s mistreatment of his Last Tango in Paris co-star, Maria Schneider, is well documented, with Schneider claiming to have felt “angry”, “humiliated” and “a little raped” by Brando, particularly during the filming of a rape scene of which Schneider was not informed ahead of time.

Moreno described feeling unable to stand up for herself in the face of Brando’s mistreatment. “I was such a different person then. I had all the makings of a doormat,” she told Chastain. “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.”

Yes, Marlon Brando has been dead for nearly 20 years and “can’t defend himself,” something many people seem to think should prohibit anyone from sharing less than savory details about the dead. Personally, I have no problem speaking ill of the dead, and believe Moreno has every right to share her own experiences. The star has kept the details of Brando’s “mistreatment” vague, making it more difficult to accuse him of abuse, directly. But regardless of whether we can or should classify Brando as an abuser, per se, it’s certainly not hard to imagine he was kind of a dick to women. Brando may have been a complicated man, whose life was filled with plenty of tragedy and trauma of his own, but that still doesn’t excuse being a “bad guy” to women, nor should it grant him posthumous immunity to being called out for poor behavior.

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