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Fun facts about The Godfather trilogy

09 May 2022
Did you know?
wedding family portrait

Fifty years ago, movie history was made with the release of The Godfather. Getting the book by Mario Puzo onto the screen was an arduous task – something you’ll see covered in the new miniseries The Offer, Mondays at 22:30 on M-Net channel 101. Half a century later the movie’s legacy lives on. It was followed by two sequels and you can catch up on all three with DStv.

In celebration of the trilogy, here are some fun facts you may or may not have known about the movies.

  1. The Godfather cast took part in improvisational rehearsals with director Francis Ford Coppola in which they would sit down for family meals in character.
  2. Paramount did not initially want to hire Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone. They wanted Laurence Olivier in the role but were won over once Coppola showed them Brando’s screen test.
  3. Robert De Niro auditioned for the role of Sonny Corleone. While the role eventually went to James Caan, De Niro would later appear as the young Vito Corleone, in The Godfather Part II.
  4. Vito Corleone’s cat was a stray that Coppola picked up during his walk to set. He handed the kitty to Brando to improvise with and the cat became a star.
  5. In the US, The Godfather became the highest-grossing movie of 1972.
  6. Paramount wanted Peter Bogdanovich to direct the first movie, but he turned it down because he said he was not interested in the Mafia. Ironically he would go on to appear in several episodes of the acclaimed mafia show The Sopranos and even direct an episode.
  7. Despite being about the Mafia, all references to them were eliminated from the first film at the request of the Italian American Civil Rights League.
  8. The first film would go on to win three Oscars and the second won six. While the third movie was nominated for seven Oscars, it did not take any home.
  9. For 45 years Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro held the record for being the only actors to have won an Oscar for playing the same character. That record was broken in 2020 when Joaquin Phoenix became the second actor to win an Oscar for playing the Joker (the first being Heath Ledger, in 2009). This year two more actors joined the record: in 1962 Rita Moreno won an Oscar for her role as Anita in West Side Story. This year Ariane DeBose won the same award for playing the same character, in Steven Spielberg’s remake of the film.
  10. Alec Baldwin, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Val Kilmer, Charlie Sheen, and Billy Zane were all considered for the part of Vincent Mancini in The Godfather Part III. The role eventually went to Andy Garcia who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance.

Watch The Godfather trilogy with DStv.
The Godfather
The Godfather Part II
The Godfather Part III
The Offer airs Mondays at 22:30 on M-Net channel 101. If you miss an episode, catch up with DStv.

Feature image: Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974).