Why Do People Hate Yul Brynner: Delving into the Fascination and Revulsion

Yul Brynner was a famous actor best known for his roles in films like The King and I and The Ten Commandments. However, despite his success and fame, Brynner was also a controversial figure who elicited strong reactions from people. In this article, we’ll explore some of the main reasons why certain groups hated or disliked Brynner during his lifetime and even after his death.

Bold, Exotic Persona Rubbed Some The Wrong Way

One of the biggest reasons why some people disliked Yul Brynner was his bold, exotic persona that seemed to rub conservative middle America the wrong way.

“Mysterious” Background

Part of this had to do with his unusual background. He claimed to be part Swiss and part Russian, born on an island named Sakhalin. He cultivated an air of mystery about his heritage and background that some people found suspicious or off-putting.

“Foreignness” Didn’t Sit Well With Some

In an era before globalization really took off, Brynner’s perceived “foreignness” didn’t sit well with isolationist sentiments among some Americans. At a time when blonde hair and blue eyes were the American ideal, some felt Brynner’s darker, more exotic looks were almost alien.

Bold Style Was Offensive To Some

Additionally, Brynner’s bold sense of personal style – shaving his head, wearing tight black pants, etc. – offended more conservative tastes. Some Americans saw him as almost obscene or Improper.

Acting Choices Riled Up Critics

Beyond his personal style, some of the acting choices Brynner made throughout his career engendered hatred from certain critics and movie fans.

King and I Role Was Seen As Offensive

His most famous role, as the King of Siam in musical The King and I, offended some Asian Americans. They felt the character was an inaccurate, demeaning portrayal of Asian people. Brynner’s bold performance choices further contributed to stereotyped caricature for these critics.

Other Roles Also Seen As Sometimes Stereotyped

Brynner’s other famous roles, like Pharaoh Rameses in The Ten Commandments, were sometimes criticized as exaggerated or stereotyped. While Brynner saw them as powerful and dramatic, others saw problematic undertones.

Acting Style Viewed As Over-The-Top

Some critics saw Brynner’s acting style in general as over-the-top and almost self-parodying. His intense gaze, dramatic gestures, and booming voice seemed exaggerated and mannered. While this style is more appreciated today, at the time it was seen as almost campy by some.

Personal Life Was Controversial For The Era

Aspects of Yul Brynner’s personal life also stoked controversy and anger in an era of more conservative values.

Marriage History Caused Scandal

Brynner was married 4 times, which was unusual at the time. He also fathered children out of wedlock, which did not sit well with moral authorities. His abandonment of his first wife and daughter to pursue acting was seen as shameful.

Affairs And Womanizing Caused Outrage

Brynner had numerous and very public affairs with famous actresses. His womanizing ways offended many people’s sense of decency. Some saw him as contributing to the moral decay of society through his brazen sexuality.

Lavish Lifestyle Was Seen As Excessive

Brynner lived an opulent, lavish lifestyle full of expensive homes, cars, and possessions. At a time of postwar austerity, this level of conspicuous consumption was infuriating to everyday working people just trying to get by.

Some Saw Him As An Egotist

Another major reason Brynner evoked hatred was a perception that he was an egomaniac who put his fame and success above all else.

Reveled In Fame And Fortune

Brynner clearly enjoyed the fame and fortune that came with being an international superstar actor. He relished the star treatment, press attention, and trappings of success. This fed an image of him as being in love with himself and the limelight.

Craved The Spotlight

Throughout his career, Brynner demanded top billing, the most lines, and central roles that kept him firmly in the spotlight. He was not shy about promoting himself or trying to steal scenes. This painted him as an egotistical glory hound.

Didn’t Give Back Until The End

Unlike other stars of the era, Brynner didn’t really champion any social causes or use his fame for humanitarian work until the very end of his life. This contributed to a perception that he was a self-centered narcissist without much concern for the greater good.

He Could Be Difficult To Work With

Brynner also earned a reputation for being difficult to work with, which caused people in the film industry to dislike him.

He Was Seen As A Diva On Set

The actor was notoriously demanding on movie sets, requiring elaborate accommodations, constant attention, and preferential treatment. This behavior was seen as vain star behavior by many crew.

Refused To Follow Directors

Brynner often clashed with directors over creative interpretation of roles. He insisted on performing parts his own way and refused direction. This was taken as an insult by many directors.

Costars Felt Upstaged By Him

Fellow actors sometimes felt upstaged by Brynner’s scene-stealing antics and attention-seeking behavior. His unwillingness to share the limelight made him unpopular with costars.

Involved In Multiple Feuds

Brynner became embroiled in a few notorious feuds with other powerful figures in Hollywood over accusations of arrogance and egotism. These public fights added to his reputation as being difficult.

Support Of Unpopular Causes

Finally, Brynner’s outspoken support for some unpopular political causes and figures also fueled hatred from certain segments of the American public.

Sympathized With Communist Figures

At the height of 1950s McCarthyism, Brynner expressed sympathy for blacklisted Communist screenwriters and refused to denounce them. This immediately made him a target as a Communist sympathizer.

Supported Unpopular Leaders

Brynner was also vocal in his support of leaders like Yugoslavia’s Josip Tito and Soviet Union’s Boris Yeltsin. Since both were controversial, this stoked suspicion of Brynner.

Was Anti-Establishment

The actor adopted anti-establishment stances that ruffled feathers. He protested the Vietnam War, spoke out against nuclear proliferation, and called for civil rights reform. These positions earned him enemies among conservative elements of society.

Was Brynner’s bold style offensive at the time?

Yes, Brynner’s bold personal style – like shaving his head and wearing tight black pants – was considered offensive by some more conservative Americans in the 1950s. At a time when mainstream ideals favored conservative, ‘all-American’ looks, Brynner’s exotic, bald appearance was seen as overly sexual or improper by certain segments of society.

His unusual style challenged gender norms and middle-class propriety in a way that rubbed many traditionalists the wrong way.

Did Brynner refuse direction from movie directors?

Yes, there are many reports of Brynner clashing with directors over his insistence on performing roles his own way. He often refused direction and demanded parts be shot how he wanted, which angered many directors. Some examples include his disputes with Cecil B. DeMille over The Ten Commandments, and Walter Lang over The King and I.

Brynner was famously stubborn and arrogant when it came to his acting process, believing he knew what was best for the character. This refusal to be directed came across as egotistical to many in Hollywood.

Was Brynner’s portrayal of the King of Siam considered offensive by some?

Yes, Brynner’s turn as the King of Siam in musical The King and I was seen as an offensive caricature by some Asian Americans upon the film’s release. The characterization relied on stereotypes and exaggeration that played into negative perceptions of Asian people.

From the strange accent to descriptions of the King as a “barbarian,” some felt the role denigrated and mocked Asian cultures. While Brynner won an Oscar for the part, the performance has received more critical scrutiny in recent decades as an example of insensitive yellowface portrayal in classic Hollywood films.

Conclusion and Summary

In closing, Yul Brynner remains a complex and divisive cultural figure even decades after his death. While clearly a talented actor, his unusual background, public persona, and unorthodox personal choices rubbed many the wrong way in conservative mid-20th century America.

Yet Brynner’s individualism and willingness to challenge social mores also inspired counter-cultural revolution and progress. Audiences today recognize the cultural value in the provocative, boundary-pushing nature of his life and career – even if it inspired hatred from some at the time. Love him or despise him, Brynner’s brazen originality left a bold mark on Hollywood history.

FAQs About Why People Hated Yul Brynner

What was so controversial about Brynner’s background?

Brynner intentionally cultivated mystery and exoticism about his heritage, claiming mixed Swiss-Russian parentage born on an island in Siberia. This unusual background combined with his “foreign” looks caused suspicion and controversy in xenophobic postwar America.

How did Brynner’s personal life violate moral standards of the time?

Brynner shocked conservative 1950s America by marrying 4 times, fathering illegitimate children, engaging in public affairs, and living a lavish, materialistic lifestyle. This flamboyant personal life flouted moral conventions and family values.

How did Brynner get a reputation for arrogant behavior?

Demanding the spotlight in films, feuding with co-stars, reveling in fame, and being difficult on sets earned Brynner a notorious reputation for egotism and arrogance. Refusing direction also fed perceptions of him as a narcissist.

Why did Brynner’s political views make him unpopular?

In the polarized 1950s, Brynner’s support for blacklisted writers, civil rights reform, and leaders like Tito and Yeltsin went against the grain of mainstream conservatism. This made him a controversial figure.

Was Yul Brynner’s acting style appreciated in his own time?

No, many critics saw Brynner’s intense, exotic style and bold delivery as exaggerated and overblown. Viewed as mannered and campy then, his acting choices are now appreciated as more in tune with later method and raw realism approaches.

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