OF ALL THE LEVELS OF CONNECTION, the most consistent was humor. Humor, often meaning practical jokes. There was no one more gifted in this arena or as skilled a craftsman as Marlon. He possessed the sense of humor—which we both shared—of a child. I once asked him why it was that farts were always funny. He replied, “Because they are blatantly anti-social.”
He once asked if I would play a small part in a film he was going to do in Ireland. I agreed and asked if I shouldn't maybe take a look at a script. He advised me not to worry about it; I was simply going to play a journalist from ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine in New York. Simple enough, I concurred.
Friday evening, upon arrival, I was invited to dinner at his place. I had hidden in my pocket a brilliant little rubber device that, once mastered and properly lubricated, would emit the most genuine-sounding farts in the history of counterfeit fart noises.
He graciously greeted me at the front door and welcomed me in. As we approached the den, I put a firm squeeze on the contraption. BRRRTTTT. A quizzical look from Marlon. “Very good, John.” We sat on the couch. “Sorry, I ate something weird on the plane, I'm having a little” BBBZZZRRRTT! Once again. “Jesus, John, what the hell did you eat???” PPPHHHHRRRTTT!!!
I kept him going for a good half-hour and only let up when his laughter turned to an expression of worry and he was reaching for the phone to get a doctor. “Ah . . . that's not normal, John, you're not well. You're sick. You're ripping about three beauties a minute and . . . ah that's just not right.”
My own tear-filled laughter gave up the charade. I reached into my pocket and revealed the culprit. Marlon's face lit up like a Christmas tree, the smile of a five-year-old. I handed the fart unit to him. He held it up to the light and exclaimed, “I've found God!!!” I was so proud that, after a couple of years of being on the receiving end of Marlon's practical jokes, I was finally able to swing back and connect big-time. But we were both winners, as the fart machine became a source of entertainment for many years.
After dinner, he informed me that since I was to begin shooting the film on Monday, I would need to meet the director tomorrow, Saturday. The next afternoon we went through a few costume possibilities and I was introduced to Tom, our director.
“How do you do? Nice to meet you. How's the accent coming?”
“What????” I can still feel the look on my face and the panic that surged through my body. “What accent??!!” Tom looked at me quizzically; he recognized my panic as well as I did.
“The Dublin accent. Didn't you read the script? You're playing a reporter from Dublin!” I, officially, now had less than a day and a half to come up with a decent Irish accent before 5 a.m. Monday. Marlon nearly split himself in two laughing. He'd been planning this rotten trick for months.
Lot 216 DON JUAN DEMARCO, 1995
A collection of material relating to Don Juan DeMarco, including:
• a script, the title page printed with the working title Don Juan DeMarco And The Centerfold, An Original Screenplay by Jeremy Leven, Based in part on “Don Juan” by Lord Byron, including several pages of script revisions, various dates 13 March—6 May, 1994, 108pp. of mimeographed typescript, with some amendments to the script in pencil in an unknown hand;
• 10 revised script pages dated 20 December, 1993, three pages annotated in red felt pen or ballpoint pen with amendments to the script in Brando’s hand, additionally annotated with amendments in an unknown hand;
• a scene breakdown, in blue paper covers, 24pp. of mimeographed typescript;
• three letters from Director, Jeremy Leven to Marlon Brando, one a typescript letter on Jeremy Leven . . . headed stationery, signed, dated 4 July, 1994, encouraging Brando in the final stages of filming; one a hand-written note on Juno Pictures Inc headed stationery, telling Brando a few scenes dropped that were not essential . . . trims and tucks to keep things moving. And a new scene for you—small but endearing, I believe . . . 1p.; and a fax, dated 21 September, 1994, regarding voiceovers and the first screening, 1p.;
• a Xerox of a typescript letter from the film’s producer, Francis Ford Coppola, Hi Marlon . . . “Don Juan” is coming along—it’s different and quite enjoyable. We preview it again in a few days in Santa Monica and I think it will go over pretty well, 1p.;
• seven colour and one black and white portrait photographs of Marlon Brando as Dr. Mickler and Johnny Depp as Don Juan, largest—14x11in. (35.5x28cm.);
• a quantity of press and promotional material, including: two colour press kits, various Xeroxes of press clippings and three copies of Variety magazine containing articles relating to the film;
• a large quantity of production paperwork including: call sheets, staff/crew lists, and faxed correspondence between Brando’s office, New Line Cinema and others; and related material.
Lot 213 THE BRAVE, 1997
A collection of material relating to The Brave, including:
• a draft shooting script, dated June, 1996, 94pp. of mimeographed typescript, with with paper I.C.M. covers, with two pages annotated in red ballpoint pen in Brando’s hand with additions and amendments to the script including:
• page 16: next to Raphael’s statement that his wife is Mexican, Brando has written Most Mex are Indians;
• page 17: next to Raphael’s speech regarding spirits, Brando has added I’m a religious person, helping people. Seduction, not an easy sell . . .;
• a revised shooting script, dated 16 August, 1996;
• a quantity of loose revised script pages for McCarthy’s speech, approximately 66 pages of mimeographed typescript, some duplicates, with approximately 5 pages annotated in Brando’s hand, including next to McCarthy’s threatening speech to Raphael, Brando has inserted . . . good Americans who put a lot of sweat into this country. We’re not going to lose it to wet little farts like you . . ., two pages accompanied by a fax header with a note written in Johnny Depp’s hand regarding the attached pages;
• a transcription of a conversation between Brando and Johnny Depp regarding the script, 7pp. of mimeographed typescript;
• two faxes from Johnny Depp to Brando, one with 6 pages of Xeroxes of notes of the film in Depp’s hand, the other addressed to Merlin Braindough, from YNNHOJ PPED, enclosing an article regarding the release of the film at Cannes Film festival; and related material.
Editor’s note: The fax pictured above reads as follows:
From: YNNHOJ PPED
Merlin= Thought you might like to have a gander at this. It looks like we’ve riled them up a bit. More to follow I’m sure. Hope all is well with you.
Much love and confusion – Johnny.
P.S.= The opening night of the film went very well. Great response. The press have either shit on it, or applauded it. Very extreme responses. Also the photo of Andrew Jackson is not him!? Go figure. J.D.
The Zone would like to thank Helen Hall, Vice President and Head of Entertainment Memorabilia for Christie's, New York, for her kindness and generosity. Not only did Ms. Hall graciously acquiesce to our request for permission to include Johnny's reminiscence about Marlon Brando in the JDZ Archives—she even sent us a copy of the auction catalogue! We are very grateful to Ms. Hall and to Christie's for allowing us to share the catalogue entries with Johnny Depp fans all over the world.
If you reprint this material, please include a thank-you to Christie's, as well as the Zone, in your acknowledgements.