Film fans are preparing to return to the world of The Godfather nearly 50 years after the Francis Ford Coppola classic premiered, with two Hollywood productions in the works.
Actor Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name, The Social Network) has been made an offer he can’t refuse, and has signed on to star in a series that will dramatise the making of The Godfather.
The new TV show called The Offer will follow The Godfather producer Al Ruddy (Hammer) and chronicle his previously untold experiences on the set of the 1972 mob drama.
Serving as executive producer for the 10-episode limited series is the real-life Ruddy.
Michael Tolkin is also on board as a writer and executive producer for The Offer, which will air on Viacom CBS’ new global streaming platform Paramount Plus.
Though details about the plot remain scarce, the series is expected to explore the intense pushback between The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, his team, and the studios.
Leave the gun, take the Kleenex
Though it would go on to win three Oscars (including best picture) at the Academy Awards in 1973, The Godfather faced a number of challenges from studio executives.
It’s hard to picture the iconic film without Al Pacino and Marlon Brando, but Coppola reportedly had to fight to keep them both in their roles.
In fact, big-shot studio executives were pushing for Robert Redford or a star with a bigger following to take Pacino’s place as Michael Corleone, and Pacino was almost fired three times during filming with executives calling his performance “anaemic”.
Brando, who by the 1970s was struggling to land a major role, was considered to be “toxic” by studio heads who initially refused to even watch his audition.
But Coppola was sold on his Don Vito Corleone after he witnessed Brando transform into the character during an impromptu audition using shoe polish and tissues.
“We went to his house on Mulholland Drive and it was early, he wasn’t up,” Coppola said in an interview with Annette Insdorf.
“There’s a rumble and the door opens, and in walks this beautiful man with long blond hair, in a Japanese robe.”
“[Brando] took his hair … he did it up himself in the back, and he took shoe polish and he made it black and he put on a shirt.”
Brando suggested the mob boss should have a rough voice and “look like a bulldog”, and decided to stuff his mouth with Kleenex tissues to create the signature jowls.
Upon seeing the audition footage, the studio agreed to bring Brando into the role that would later secure him an Oscar for best actor.
Paramount executives also pushed back against cinematographer Gordon Willis for his choice of lighting.
Willis deliberately used minimal lights as he felt a dimly lit scene would reflect the shady, dark and nefarious activities of the script.
The production team had to fight to keep the scenes in, and Willis later became known as ‘the prince of darkness’.
And while The Offer will be able to draw from any number of events during the famously tense filming of The Godfather, it seems it won’t be the only project covering the pivotal movie.
A film about a film
Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain) and Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, X-Men: Apocalypse) are starring in a separate, unrelated feature that will chronicle the chaos and confrontation involved in the making of the classic film.
Francis and The Godfather will focus on Coppola (Isaac) and his long-running battle with former Paramount studio head Robert Evans (Gyllenhaal) to make his version of the film.
Oscar Isaac is set to play director Francis Ford Coppola while Jake Gyllenhaal will play former Paramount studio head Robert Evans in a movie about the making of 'The Godfather': https://t.co/KStQLEmHqV pic.twitter.com/0V6O77wxz0
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) September 30, 2020
Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson (Rain Man) will lead the project, which is set to start production some time next year, though no release date has been set.
Despite being about him, Coppola won’t be involved in the film, however he has given it his blessing.
“Any movie that Barry Levinson makes about anything will be interesting and worthwhile!” Coppola said.
Earlier this year, Coppola announced he would re-cut and re-release an alternative ending to his 1990 sequel, The Godfather: Part III.
The last instalment in the trilogy was met with mixed reviews, despite the critically acclaimed and successful first two films.
Diane Keaton, who starred in all three films, raved about Coppola’s 2020 version, which is expected to be released on December 8.
“It’s just brilliant what he did, in my opinion,” Keaton told Vanity Fair.
Al Pacino and Diane Keaton behind the scenes of ‘The Godfather’, 1972. pic.twitter.com/DqI0nfFoPn
— Menna (@mennayoussif8) November 29, 2020
“That’s what’s so annoying to me about myself. I saw it and I was so moved and touched. That includes the massive amount of it that’s just the film, not even the changes.
“That ending is really good. But what was really interesting to me as I was watching it is thinking, What the f— were you thinking, Diane, when you saw it the first time? Like, it’s not up to par or something? What?
“I saw it in a totally different light, a completely different point of view. It was touching and moving and the way he managed his daughter in this and the way he changed his story in the end.
“It was a really important moment in my life. I was so thrilled. It was also really nice to see those people again, and it meant a lot that Francis did that. It was really kind of him.”