Dennis Hopper and his Apocalypse Now co-star Marlon Brando did not get on, but why? Was it that the conditions were less than ideal on the set of the war movie? Well, we all know that was true, but the rest of the cast didn’t fall out over it. No, the reason they hated each other comes down to a little red book and big misunderstanding between Brando and Hopper.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hopper explained, “We had a lot of problems together,” with Brando refusing to be on set when Hopper was there. Apparently, it all began when Brando arrived on set weeks after he was scheduled to start shooting. Hopper, meanwhile, had spent the time training in the jungle.
“When Brando finally arrives,” Hopper explained. “I had been down there a month and a half. And I have this crack unit; we’re doing drills, we’re doing karate, we’re doing Jiu-Jitsu, we’re climbing trees, we’re scouting, we’re a crack unit.” During this intense training, Hopper had been given a little red book used by the Green Berets. It was this book that would destroy his relationship with Brando.
“I didn’t know this, but Francis had been on him for not reading the book, Heart of Darkness, and we have to do a story conference, and there’s no ending,” Hopper said. “I say to Brando, sitting across from him at dinner, ‘I bet you haven’t read the book [meaning the little red book]’, and he thinks I am talking about Heart of Darkness, but I don’t know this at the time.”
“[Brando] gets up and says, ‘I don’t have to listen to this! I don’t have to take this!'” Hopper continued. “And he is screaming and yelling, ‘Why do I have to hear it from him? I have to hear it from this punk!’ And he storms out of the house.”
After the mix-up about the books, Hopper and Brando’s relationship never recovered, with Hopper antagonising his co-star whenever he could. Eventually, Brando and director Francis Ford Coppola went on a two-week riverboat ride.
When they came back, Brando reportedly said, “I’ll work with him, but you come in and do your scenes first, and then I’ll come in and listen to you, but we’ll never be on the set together.”
That’s why you should never meet your heroes, kids. If you like Apocalypse Now, check out our list of the best thriller movies.