Canaan Kennedy Reflects on Larry Grobel's Book,
Conversations with Brando
I first learned of Lawrence Grobel when I was watching Julius Caesar in which the great Marlon Brando plays Marc Anthony. See, I was reading Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar during my lessons with my grandmother Adrienne Kennedy, who taught at Harvard, Stanford and Yale. We read sections of the play and my grandmother soon purchased the movie and we began to watch it. I was captivated by Brando and I became enamored by Brando’s speech to the commoners after the murder of Caesar. I asked my grandmother about Brando, and she told me that, “My good friend Larry has a book about him … Conversations with Brando.” The next week a package came in the mail from Lawrence Grobel and inside was - as I call it, “The Brando Book”. The front page said “For Canaan, Your grandmother told me that you liked Brando, so did I. With regards, Larry Grobel”. It was a great honor to receive a signed copy of his book, and as I would soon find out - Grobel was known as the, “Mozart of interviewers.” One can learn many lessons from Brando, but one of my favorite lines is when Brando talks about the media, “I don’t care what people think. Good Lord, I gave up caring about twenty years ago. ... I was really naive about what the press is about. But they would write all these things I never said or distort in some ways or misrepresent, it used to hurt my feelings. Now, I don’t care at all what they say. Those are mostly conversational scavengers who sit around and wait for some slop to fall off the table. If there isn’t any, then they invent some. It’s of no consequence.” Marlon Brando did not talk to reporters and rarely gave interviews, but Larry Grobel broke through to Brando and he invited Grobel to “Brando's Island”, on the atoll Tetiaroa. Grobel went where no reporter had gone before. Elmore Leonard stated that, “Brando tells Grobel what he won’t discuss, but before you know it, they’re talking about the forbidden subjects in depth. Amazing. How does Grobel do it?” As an up and coming writer and interviewer this book has had a great influence on my work and I aspire to become like Grobel - “The Mozart of Interviewers.”
A special thank you to Lawrence Grobel for giving me inspiration to conduct my own interviews and publish my first book.