1. Coppola didn’t like Mario Puzo’s The Godfather novel.
2. The film script was originally set in a very different time and place.
3. When Coppola expressed doubts about the project, his pal George Lucas convinced him to do it.
4. Coppola was paid $125,000 and six percent of the net.
5. Coppola had wanted Al Pacino to play Michael Corleone from the start, but Paramount Studios had different ideas.
“When you see someone in your mind, it’s very hard when the studio says they want Ryan O’Neal, which is what they said. He had just had a big hit with them called Love Story. Or they wanted Robert Redford. But they absolutely rejected Al Pacino. I realized later that Bob Evans, who was the head of production and was a tall, good-looking guy, wanted a guy that looked like himself. Then they saw Pacino in Panic in Needle Park and agreed.”
6. Convincing the studio to take Brando for the Godfather role was also difficult.
“Finally, they said, ‘We give you three conditions: 1. If he does a screen test. 2. If he’ll do it for free. 3. He has to put up a million-dollar bond to guarantee that there’ll be no shenanigans.’ So I said, ‘I accept.'”
7. Marlon Brando’s screen test blew everyone away.
“I took the footage to New York to the Gulf + Western Building and showed the footage to the owner of Paramount. First he sees Marlon with the long hair coming out of the door, and he says, ‘No, no’ in his Viennese accent. Then he says, ‘That’s incredible.’ That was it.”
8. Coppola might have been overthrown by a palace coup.
9. Gangsters don’t brown; they fry.
10. Michael Corleone’s baby boy who gets baptized at the end of The Godfather is not a boy at all.
11. There was originally no intention of doing a second film.
12. The Godfather may be your favorite film, but it’s not Coppola’s.