The real story behind the offer
Dan Fogler prepared to play Francis Ford Coppola for most of his life and he didn’t even realize it. Fogler stars as legendary director in new Paramount+ limited series The offer, premiering April 28, which tells the chaotic true story behind the making of Coppola’s 1972 masterpiece The Godfather. Fogler first saw the film when he was a freshman in high school. “I went to Blockbuster and got made Part I and II and I watched them directly,” he told TIME. “I was like, ‘My god, all my favorite actors are in there.'” He became so enamored with Coppola that he watched his entire filmography, including the 1991 documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, which offered a hellish behind-the-scenes look at how Revelation now it’s done. “Watching [Coppola] in this documentary was such a great masterclass in learning how to play this character,” he says. “You really see him as the ringleader in the middle of this circus.”
Fogler brought some of that PT Barnum energy to The offer, a series inspired by Godfather producer Albert S. Ruddy’s recollections of making the iconic film, which included numerous near-shots, bitter casting disagreements and run-ins with the crowd. (It should be noted that not everyone agrees with Ruddy’s version of events.) Fogler wanted to offer a “glimpse into the soul of Francis” through his performance in the 10-episode docudrama. “In his heart, Francis is still in a black box theater somewhere trying to pull off a performance from a goofy actor,” Fogler said in describing who Coppola, then a Hollywood newcomer, was at the time. of filming. The Godfather. “Francis also reminds me of my dad and speaks like him. That connection helped me humanize this guy who is such an icon.
Fogler didn’t get a chance to speak with Coppola, 83, before taking the role. But after doing The offer, he has a new appreciation for the 50-year-old film and its director – and he thinks others will too, especially once they realize that one of the most iconic films of all time has never has not been carried out.
Below, find out the real story behind The offer.
Did the crowd protest against the making of The Godfather?
In The offer, the Mafia is insulted by the depiction of Italian Americans in Mario Puzo’s novel. In 1970, mob boss Joe Colombo (Giovanni Ribisi) founded the Italian-American Anti-Defamation League (later known as the Italian-American Civil Rights League) to protest the book and later the movie . The real Colombo, who was the head of one of the “Five Families” in New York, protested against the bashing of Italian Americans. With the help of League supporters, he convinced the FBI to stop using the terms “Mafia” and “Cosa Nostra” in press releases. These words were also the reason why Colombo decided to close The Godfather, which was originally called The Mafia. He would have followed the producer of the film Al Ruddy (played by Miles Teller in The offer) around and leave threatening notes, as well as making harassing phone calls to Paramount Pictures chief Robert Evans (Matthew Goode).
Ruddy ended up meeting Colombo in 1971 and agreed to drop the words “Mafia” and “Cosa Nostra” from the film. He also promised the League that it would have the opportunity to review the script and “change anything that he felt would be detrimental to the Italian-American image,” according to The New York Times. Time. Finally, Ruddy agreed to donate the proceeds from the film’s New York premiere to the League’s hospital fund. In return, Colombo became an ally of Ruddy, easing tensions between the film and the Italian-American community in New York, as well as the Teamsters who worked on the film’s production and took their marching orders from the mob. (Ruddy and Colombo’s budding friendship led to Ruddy briefly losing his job.) It was later revealed that members of the League and mob were cast as extras to make Colombo happy.
Giovanni Ribisi as Joe Colombo in The Offer
Did Frank Sinatra Almost Beat Mario Puzo For The Godfather?
There is a moment in the first episode of The offer in which Mario Puzo (Patrick Gallo) spots Frank Sinatra (Frank John Hughes) in a Hollywood restaurant and decides to tell him how much he means to him. Unfortunately, Frank quickly realizes that this fanboy is none other than the author of The Godfather and things go wrong quickly. In real life, Sinatra believed that drunken lounge singer and womanizer Johnny Fontaine was based on him. Puzo has long denied Fontaine was anything more than a fictional character, but the depiction rubbed Ol’ Blue Eyes the wrong way. In a 2009 vanity lounge feature, Al Ruddy recalled Sinatra threatening Puzo one night in 1970 at famed Los Angeles restaurant Chasen’s. (Fun fact: this anecdote is actually what inspired The offer creator Michael Tolkin to make the series.)
Ruddy claimed that Sinatra was pursuing the film and encouraged Puzo not to go and argue with the singer. But someone directed Puzo to Sinatra’s table where the crooner, according to Ruddy, began yelling at the author, “I should break your legs” and “Did the FBI help you with your book ? In Puzo’s 1972 essay “The Making of The Godfather,“he alleged that Sinatra called him a pimp and threatened to ‘beat me to death’. But what upset Puzo the most was “a northern Italian, threatening me, an Italian from the South, with physical violence,” he wrote, calling it “roughly equivalent to Einstein pulling a knife on Al Capone.”
Surprisingly, Sinatra didn’t seem to have any beef with Coppola, who said USA today in March, that he met the legendary singer before shooting The Godfather has begun. “He said jokingly, ‘Why don’t we buy this [movie] of Paramount and I will play the godfather,” Coppola said. “That’s what I remember.”
Robert Evans didn’t want to hire Al Pacino to The Godfather because of its size?
All along The offer, Paramount Studio head Robert Evans argues that Francis Ford Coppola can’t choose Al Pacino (Anthony Ippolito) as the lead in The Godfather because it is too small. Evans really thought Pacino’s height was a problem. “A runt won’t play Michael,” Evans reportedly told Coppola, according to vanity lounge. But Pacino doesn’t hold a grudge against the legendary late producer. “It’s kind of true,” he said during The Godfather reunion at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.
However, Coppola told Deadline in 2020 that the real reason the studio didn’t think Pacino was right for the role of Michael wasn’t his height, but his overall appearance. “Well, they wanted Ryan O’Neal first. And then [Robert] Redford. I said, ‘The guy should really look Sicilian.’ They said: “The Sicilians are blond and have blue eyes because they were occupied by the French for many years. So there could be a blonde Sicilian with blue eyes,” Coppola explained. Still, he fought for Pacino in the role because “when I read the book, I just imagined it,” the director said. “When you do that, it’s very hard to get that out of your head. That’s why I was so persistent.
Miles Teller, Juno Temple and Dan Fogler in The Offer.
Did Mario Puzo send a letter to Marlon Brando asking him to star in The Godfather?
In The offer, Mario Puzo sends Marlon Brando (played by Grey’s Anatomy‘s Justin Chambers) a letter asking if he would be interested in playing Don Corleone. Mario assumes Marlon will even get the grade, but that ends up being key to landing the iconic actor for the role. Puzo did send a letter to Brando in 1970. “I wrote a book called The Godfather,“Puzo wrote. “I think you’re the only actor who can play the part with that quiet strength and that irony (the book is an ironic commentary on American society) that the part demands.” This letter was sold, along with other Brando accessories, at Christie’s in 2005.
Brando was intrigued by the rating, but the studio feared the 47-year-old actor, then considered stranded, posed a financial risk. The studio would only hire Brando on the condition that he work with no money up front and post bail for any budget problems he causes. They also asked Coppola to shoot a secret screen test with Brando. In 2020, Coppola described the experience of going to Brando and watching him create Vito Corleone on a whim to Deadline: “He rolls his hair up, gets some shoe polish and does his [blonde] dark hair. He says, “The character gets shot in the throat so maybe he’s talking like that”… He puts Kleenex in his mouth. He did everything himself then he took the small cheese and he nibbled it. I sit there, amazed, and then the phone rings. He picks up the phone and starts talking like the character. I’m like, ‘What is this? Who was it? What did they think?’ Brando’s performance earned him his second Oscar, which ended up being one of the most memorable Oscar speeches of all time.
Did Francis Ford Coppola almost get fired from The Godfather?
Francis Ford Coppola always seems on the verge of losing his mind or his job in The offer. The reality of the situation was not so different. “I was seriously about to get fired maybe three or four times,” Coppola told Deadline in 2020. “If I hadn’t won the Oscar for Patton [in 1970]I would have been fired from The Godfather.” He claimed he was often at odds with Paramount over casting and filming on location in New York. “They wanted to succeed in St. Louis,” he said. “And place it in the 70s.”
While Coppola was able to keep his job, he told NPR in 2021 what to do The Godfather was “just the scariest, most depressing experience I think I’ve ever had”. Pacino told the New York Time in March that he once saw Coppola “crying profusely” on set. “And I went up to him and said, ‘Francis, what’s wrong? What happened?’ He said, ‘They won’t give me another chance.’ That means they wouldn’t allow him to film any other setup,” Pacino said. “And I thought, OK. I guess I’m in a good movie here. Because he had that kind of passion and that’s it.
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