It’s hard to imagine The Godfather, the iconic 1972 film, without Marlon Brando. But that’s almost how it turned out.
During casting, Paramount executives originally pushed for Laurence Olivier. But when he couldn’t take the film, and when the director, Francis Ford Coppola, asked them to consider Brando, they initially responded: “Marlon Brando will never appear in this motion picture.” Below, Coppola and co-star James Caan explain how the execs were eventually cajoled into changing their minds, and how film history fell into place. As you watch this, also keep in mind that Paramount originally asked two other directors to make The Godfather before approaching Coppola, and they later wanted Robert Redford or Ryan O’Neal to play Michael Corleone. But Coppola, who threatened to quit production, eventually got his way and put the relatively unknown Al Pacino into the film.
FYI: Best Week Ever has a good post on the Top 10 Actor / Director Tandems In Movie History.