Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor use Marlon Brando's Godfather trick

It’s all an act! Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor use Marlon Brando’s old Godfather trick to cheat on learning lines as they film Locked Down in just 18 days

  • Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anne Hathaway used an old ruse to help make new film 
  • The stars taped scripts to their torsos and faces while the other was on camera
  • Marlon Brando famously did the same so he did not have to learn his lines 

Marlon Brando famously taped pages from his scripts to walls, ceilings and even his co-stars during filming so that he wouldn’t have to learn his lines.

And nearly 50 years after he used the trick in his masterpiece, The Godfather, British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anne Hathaway are using the same ruse for their latest film.

London-born Ejiofor, 43, who received an Oscar nomination for his role in 12 Years A Slave, revealed that they taped pages to their clothes or held them in front of their faces while the other was on camera.

Anne Hathaway holds up Chiwetel Ejiofor’s lines during the production of their new movie, Locked Down

The pandemic meant the pair had nearly 200 pages of dialogue to get through and only 18 days of filming

Many assumed Marlon Brando was unable to memorise his lines for The Godfather or was simply too lazy to learn them.

But the two-time Oscar-winner always maintained that not doing so helped add an element of spontaneity to his acting.

On the set his lines were printed on to cue cards and inventively placed in his character’s line of sight but out of the camera’s view. In one scene, co-star Robert Duvall held them up to his torso.

Duvall, 90, told HuffPost Live: ‘I wondered why he did it. He said it was to keep him fresh. I think it’s part fresh …part laziness. But it worked for him.’

The film, Locked Down, which was devised and shot during the pandemic, follows a disillusioned couple who plan to steal a diamond from Harrods after struggling to find work during lockdown.

Ejiofor said the nature of filming during Covid meant that they had just over two weeks to shoot the entire film with nearly 200 pages of dialogue to get through.

‘The script came back at about 190 pages odd – it was 18 days to shoot so we were just rattling through reams and reams of the story and the dialogue,’ he said on the Graham Norton Show.

‘I knew from the beginning, if you’ve got that number of pages, you’re thinking there’s no way of really learning all this so we’re just going to have to come up with a couple of tricks to get through it.’

He said that he’d seen a photo showing how Brando, during the filming of The Godfather, stuck pages of his lines on to co-stars such as Robert Duvall. 

Ejiofor decided to follow suit for Locked Down.

‘Of all the genius things of Marlon Brando, actually looking like he’s not reading lines is the greatest skill,’ he said. Brando died aged 80 in 2004 due to heart failure.

Locked Down, directed by The Bourne Identity filmmaker Doug Liman and written by Peaky Blinders and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? co-creator Steven Knight, was filmed using strict Covid-19 protocols during September and October last year.

They were able to film inside Harrods and used the people who were working there as extras.

Locked Down, which includes cameos from Sir Ben Kingsley, Ben Stiller, Stephen Merchant and Mark Gatiss, is available to rent on Amazon Prime.

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