Billy Zane is Playing Marlon Brando in ‘Waltzing With Brando’ Bipoic

It would appear that Billy Zane is producing a biopic based on the legendary Marlon Brando. Not only that, but Zane will be playing Marlon in the feature film, Waltzing With Brando.

Billy Zane
Photo by Jaguar PS /

This project will be adapted from the 2011 memoir (of the same name) by Bernard Judge (L.A. architect, Brando companion), and reportedly will follow “the creatively turbulent yet personally ambitious period of the actor’s life from 1969 to 1974”.

We didn’t know this was a thing we wanted until Entertainment Weekly‘s interview with Zane about the project, which will start filming in [possibly] Fiji sometime soon:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did the idea to play and produce a film about Marlon Brando come to you?

BILLY ZANE: Not by my own device! I’ve heard rumblings and suggestions since Dead Calm, and the idea of doing a biopic about him was something that was always entertaining, but something I certainly didn’t want to touch at that time. Although I did enjoy the idea of his younger career and his transition from a Broadway actor to a movie star and how he had influence both forums so significantly.

As I got older and changed as an actor…. I started to gravitate [toward] his later work in that period between Godfather and Last Tango in Paris and what was happening in his life personally and the kinds of films that he was making, which were more consistent with his personal politics and world view…. While I celebrated his mandate — his undeniable dedication to throw weight behind civil rights movements and indigenous rights — I wasn’t aware of his passion for environmental rights, which was so prescient and so timely, as we’re [now] facing irreversible threat — if not extinction — through climate change.

What about physical appearance? We all know Brando’s physique changed drastically towards the latter part of his life:

EW: You’re talking a lot about the mental headspace of Marlon, but what are you doing to physically prepare for the part?

Zane: This was fortunately before he really ballooned, so I don’t have to go there! I’m a 53-year-old man in February, which is kind of the zone that he was: late forties to early fifties. Sunshine is a good friend of gravity, so I think a little tan and some good wigging will just about cover it.

And yes this film will touch on perhaps one of the most controversial sides of Brando’s life, his presumed bisexuality:

EW: There was a news story last year where Richard Pryor’s widow indicated that Richard slept with Marlon. Is Brando’s sexuality something you’ll explore here?

Zane: I’m pretty sure he was a lover who didn’t discriminate. Through the point of view or perspective of Bernie, that was something that wasn’t as relevant or prescient. It didn’t come up. But again this may be one of the discoveries we have. If something is revealed that we feel serves the overall narrative, I’m absolutely in favor of going there and being as accurate as possible. It certainly won’t be tempered. His whole M.O. was tolerance, love, and exploration…. The nice thing is that Bernie’s still alive, this wonderful fellow…. I don’t know if he was necessarily focusing on any of those things, but that’s not to say his memory didn’t have encounters. Let’s just say it didn’t fit into the book he was writing, but I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time interviewing him and perhaps getting observations and anecdotes that were not in the book and putting them in the movie, so it’s very possible…. Were there other lovers or was his alleged bisexuality something that was really prescient? What was the ration of his appetite? The man had lots of kids and certainly lots of lovers and wives, so…

Needless to say, we’re actually pretty excited to hear more/see this project from Zane. We’ll let you know what else we hear about it in the coming months.

About Mary Anne Butler

Bleeding Cool News Editor Mary Anne Butler (Mab, for short) has been part of the fast-paced world of journalism since she was 15, getting her start in album reviews and live concert coverage for a nationally published (print) music magazine. She eventually transitioned to online media, writing for such sites as UGO/IGN, ComicsOnline, Geek Magazine, Ace of Geeks, Aggressive Comix (where she is still Editor-in-Chief), and most recently Bleeding Cool.

Over the past 10 years, she’s built a presence at conventions across the globe as a cosplayer (occasionally), photographer (constantly), panelist and moderator (mostly), and reporter (always). 

Interviews, reviews, observations, breaking news, and objective reporting are the name of the game for the founder of Harkonnen Knife Fight, a Dune-themed band with an international presence. 

Though she be but little, she is fierce. #MabTheProfessional

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