The Godfather (1972): Power Struggle between Paramount Pictures and Director Francis Ford Coppola

Fact: Legendary director Francis Ford Coppola had to get Marlon Brando to agree to extreme requests before Paramount would honor Coppola’s selection for Don Vito Corleone in the movie.

It was a foregone conclusion that The Godfather would take at least one or two sequels for the story to be properly told, and the need of a charismatic title character was vital. Director Francis Ford Coppola first approached Joseph Calleia, but the part was refused due to Calleia’s health. Next he contacted the agent for Sir Laurence Olivier. The agent refused the part, stating that the famous actor was extremely ill and not expected to live.

Paramount thought about Danny Thomas, Anthony Quinn, George C. Scott, and Edward G. Robinson. Coppola’s third choice, Marlon Brando, met resistance from Paramount Pictures executives due to havoc caused by Brando in previous films. Orson Welles and Frank Sinatra were both interested in the part and approached Coppola, but were turned down. Paramount executives recommended Ernest Borgnine and Carlo Ponti, but Coppola said no. He wanted Brando.

Paramount finally bent to his demand as long as Brando agreed to a significantly reduced salary, went through a screen-test (which Borgnine also did), and took out a bond stating he would not cause a delay to filming or production. Coppola was ready to cast Andy Griffith in the part if Brando did not come through. Brando’s performance in the screen-test won the favor of Paramount’s executives. Brando did not accept the Academy Award he won for this role.

Francis Ford Coppola own his own Winery and has a net worth of $25 Million.

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