It’s been over half a century since The Godfather hit the cinema halls and yet the Francis Ford Coppola classic gets talked about on different platforms and in different contexts. This year’s biggest hit, Barbie, attracted plenty of headlines for making multiple The Godfather references.
The greatest gangster franchise of all time ended up defining the careers of stars like Marlon Brando, James Caan, Diane Keaton, and Robert De Niro. Many of The Godfather actors enjoyed plenty of success elsewhere, but such is the movie’s grip on popular culture that often their other acting credits are overshadowed by Coppola’s masterpiece.
This phenomenon – for the lack of a better word – applies to Al Pacino’s career more than anyone else. However, he wasn’t even part of the original plan for The Godfather.
Why Captain America 2 Star Missed Out on The Godfather Role to Al Pacino
Marlon Brando’s Vito Corleone was the absolute star of The Godfather, with Francis Ford Coppola giving Al Pacino‘s character time to grow at the start of the movie. However, by The Godfather Part II, Pacino’s Michael Corleone becomes the face of the franchise, as he attempts to expand his family’s criminal empire.
Pacino was a fairly inexperienced actor at the time, especially compared to his co-stars. However, he didn’t look out of place at all, much like the character (Michael cements himself as the head of the mafia family despite growing away from it) he portrayed. Such was his performance that despite going on to do brilliant movies like Scarface, Scent of a Woman, and Dog Day Afternoon among others, he’s still seen only as Michael Corleone by many of his fans. But this all happened only because of Coppola’s determination.
The studio behind The Godfather wanted Robert Redford, who’s now popular among young fans for his role as Alexander Pierce in Captain America 2, to portray Michael. During the 70s, only a few actors were more in demand than the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid superstar.
Coppola, however, had different ideas. He was convinced young actor Pacino was more suitable for the role because he would allow viewers to see Michael as a clean slate. The studio ultimately accepted his demand, and the rest as they say is history.
Captain America 2 Star Didn’t Get in The Graduate Because of His Looks
Such is Redford’s charisma that even in his 80s his presence overshadowed other actors a few times in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In the late 60s and 70s, movie posters with his charming face on them would seamlessly attract long queues for tickets. However, those same looks led to him missing out on another classic, The Graduate.
When director Mike Nichols was scouting talents for the role of Benjamin Braddock, a bit reserved and awkward college graduate who is lured into a seductive affair with the wife of his father’s business partner, Redford offered to fill the void. However, Nichols ended up turning him down because he felt the superstar could never play a loser on the screen [via Vanity Fair]. He was too good-looking for that part.
It’s tough to imagine how Redford felt after missing out on The Godfather because of being too popular and The Graduate because of being too handsome!