It was the late 1970s and one of Hollywood's hottest directors had undertaken an incredible challenge: to make cinematic sense of America's devastating war in Vietnam. The film shoot was wildly out of control: typhoons and cost overruns, a death from an accident on set, and a heart attack suffered by lead actor Martin Sheen. As some tell it, the biggest of all the problems on the terribly vexed set of Apocalypse Now was Marlon Brando.
According to director Francis Ford Coppola, Brando showed up entirely unprepared: he was grossly overweight, had not read Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness (the novel upon which the film was based), and was eager to stall the production to increase his already inflated salary.
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