The Godfather Trilogy is one of the most celebrated crime dramas ever produced. The trilogy has created a legacy and is often considered a masterpiece chronicling the evolution of a gangster family and the end of it.
But the movie has gone beyond the simple narrative of the underworld rather it adheres to human values and ethics even in the ravaging underworld. Decades later, it is hard to imagine that the whole franchise would have been different as the producers of the original movie had different casts in mind.
Paramount Did Not Want Marlon Brando in The Godfather
And the Oscar goes to… Marlon Brando. Of course, he rejected his second Oscar win but that is a different matter altogether. He did win an Oscar for his iconic role as Vito Corleone in the 1972 movie The Godfather. Of course, it is hard to imagine another actor in the role but Paramount Studio was dead set on casting Laurence Olivier. The British actor has been another Oscar-winning powerhouse who was notable for his roles in the adaptations of English classics including Shakespeare’s Othello, Hamlet and The actor also gave some brilliant cinematic masterpieces which include Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 classic Rebecca. The studio favored Olivier over other actors in the mix.
The race for the role of Don Corleone was not limited to Brando and Olivier. As per earlier reports circulated at the time, Anthony Quinn and Frank Sinatra were also in the game of throne for the Don. However, the director Francis Ford Coppola narrowed it down to Brando and Olivier. Reportedly, the Marathon Man actor even trained and perfected an Italian accent for the role but before claiming his spot, Olivier was sick and had to let go of the role. Following his departure Brando claimed the spot but his previous records on set in other movies were not satisfactory to the studio and they were not in favor of the actor playing the lead. Coppola had to persuade Paramount and managed to get Brando a screen test. The Apocalypse Now and Last Tango in Paris actor excelled and had the likes of Don. Brando owes a great deal to Coppola as he provided the opportunity to play the era-defining role in his later career.
Marlon Brando Becoming The Godfather
Brando was not even in line with the project but the actor received a letter from the author of the book The Godfather on which the franchise is based on. The author Mario Puzo considered Brando perfect for the role.
“Dear Mr. Brando, I wrote a book called THE GODFATHER which has had some success and I think you’re the only actor who can play the Godfather with that quiet force and irony (the book is an ironical comment on American society) the part requires,” Puzo’s note read (via Vanity Fair).
Still, the actor had severe doubts, originally he never wanted to play the role. “I’m not a Mafia Godfather … I’m not going to glorify the Mafia,” he once said. However, it all worked after Coppola’s constant effort. But Cappola’s faith in Brando and Paramount’s pressure to reject the actor was hanging in the screen test. Recalling the screen test, Cappola said:
“Slightly, from a low angle, I filmed him holding a glass of wine in one hand and a cigar in the other, going through animated gestures… Francis was videotaping at the same time. At one point Brando dipped the end of the cigar into the wine. The phone rang unexpectedly. Brando calmly picked it up, staying in character, and mumbled a few words as if talking to someone on the other end of the line. Then he hung up and continued his pantomime.”
The duo has created a masterpiece, and Brando has been considered one of the greatest cinematic gangstars. Also, Coppola got along very well with the actor calling him “one of the most affectionate, warm men” he ever met and he had a great sense of humor.
The Godfather won three Oscars out of its ten nominations at the 45th Academy Awards.
Source: Daily Mail.