'Godfather' reunion: Coppola recalls casting Pacino as Michael Corleone

"Without Francis, where would I be?" Pacino wondered.
By Karen Butler  |  April 30, 2017 at 11:19 AM
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April 30 (UPI) -- The Godfather icons Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, James CaanRobert Duvall, Talia Shire and Diane Keaton reunited to close the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival in New York Saturday night.

The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II were screened for about 6,000 people at Radio City Music Hall as part of the program. After the movies, the films' stars and director Francis Ford Coppola discussed the classic, gangster saga for about 90 minutes. Filmmaker Taylor Hackford moderated the panel.

The event was timed to the first movie's 45th anniversary. Among those in the audience were Leonardo DiCaprio, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, Peter Fonda, Alessandro Nivola, Whoopi Goldberg, Julian Schnabel, Robert Schwartzman and Sofia Coppola. 

Francis Ford Coppola said he knew immediately Pacino would be perfect as Michael Corleone, but he remembered Paramount Pictures wasn't so sure.

"I just saw his face," said Coppola. "Once you see someone in the role, it's very hard to get that out of your head."

"The studio didn't want me after they hired me. I was living on 90th and Broadway at the time. I walked [downtown] to the Village and back. I did it every day, thinking about this role. Just thinking where I could go with it. I came, and started filming it, I was dizzy. I was new to film. We were theater actors, weren't used to film," Pacino recalled, crediting Coppola with giving him his big break. "Without Francis, where would I be?"

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