‘The Offer’ Episode 2: Recap And Ending, Explained: Whom Did Francis Coppola Want To Cast As Michael Corleone?


Previously, in “The Offer,” Joseph Anthony Colombo had made it very clear that he was not going to let Paramount make a film based on a book that defames the Italian-American community. Frank Sinatra, who was very close to the mafias, was also putting added pressure to stop the film from being made, as he thought that the character of Johnny Fontane in “The Godfather” put a blot on his glittering legacy. Mario Puzo had never written a screenplay, as it was the unsaid rule of Hollywood that the writer of the novel never writes one. Albert Ruddy wanted to give it a shot, and Mario Puzo was up for the challenge. He told Ruddy that only he could do justice to the world created by him, and that Paramount needed to give him an opportunity if they wanted the authentic flavors to come out. Francis Ford Coppola was brought on board to write the screenplay with Puzo, and together they started creating a sauce for a never-seen-before Italian spread.

Joseph Colombo, the mafia, started the Italian American Civil Rights League, and they had one goal: to stop a film being made on “The Godfather.” Many of them didn’t even read the book properly, but they were of the opinion that the book is based on the presumption that every Italian immigrant is related to the mafia. When the pressure from Frank Sinatra increased, Joseph Colombo decided to send a message to Hollywood. He hired a hitman who went and shot the car in which Al Rudy was sitting with his assistant, Bettye McCartt. His aim was not to kill them but to make the voice of the mafia ring a bell in the fabled corridors of Hollywood. The series is based on Albert Ruddy’s experience of the making of the Godfather, and “The Offer” Episode 2 has been directed by Dexter Fletcher.

Did Mickey Cohen shoot Al Ruddy?

Joseph Colombo had called Mario Puzo a traitor and had taken a vow in public in the Italian American Civil rights league rally that he wouldn’t let a film be made about “The Godfather,” which each and every Italian was made to believe was written with the aim of defaming the community. In episode 2 of  ‘The Offer”, the FBI agents came and visited Al Ruddy and Bettye McCartt a day after shots were fired at their car. The agents tell them that it was the work of a dangerous mobster who was called Mickey Cohen. The agents told Ruddy that Mickey just wanted to send a statement, because otherwise, he generally doesn’t miss his target.

Ruddy was stressed but was not ready to give up without a fight. He knew he had to meet Mickey Cohen, one-on-one, and tell him about his intentions. He walks straight into Mickey’s den without fearing for his life. Mickey tells him that he was only the messenger, and that the orders were given by people higher up the food chain. He told Al Ruddy to make a new film and stop imagining that “The Godfather” would see the light of day.

Al Ruddy is still not ready to bog down. He knew Godfather was a gold mine, and there was no way he was going to miss out on it. Ruddy decides that he had to go to Joseph Colombo and reason with him, to let him make his film, and be on his side. He was playing it too close to his chest, and there was a possibility that each and every move he made could backfire.

See More: ‘The Offer’ Episode 1: Recap And Ending, Explained – How Did Albert Ruddy Become The Producer Of ‘The Godfather’?

Does Vic Damon Agree To Play Johnny Fontane?

In the second episode of “The Offer” we see that it was decided that Vic Damon would play the character of Johnny Fontane. Francis Coppola, Mario Puzo, Albert Ruddy, and Andrea Eastman, the casting director, approached him in Vegas. He was about to say yes when Frank Sinatra got wind of it. He sent one of the gang members to threaten Vic Damone. He got scared and pulled back from playing the character. Albert Ruddy felt helpless. He was trying to make a film, and it felt like the mafia families had waged war against him. From getting shot to not being able to pick a cast of their choice, he didn’t know how to face this rebellion, which he thought was absolutely unnecessary and a sheer wastage of time and resources.

Ruddy met with Congressman Mario Biaggi to get permission to shoot in New York, but was again met with resistance, and his request was turned down. Al Ruddy’s wife, Francoise, was worried about him. She contacted his assistant, Bettye McCartt, to get some information, but she chose to not speak about it. He had hidden the whole mafia fiasco from her. He was getting threatening calls and was under a huge amount of stress. There was a possibility that the film would never be made and that Ruddy’s career would go downhill. “The Godfather” had become a passion project for all those who were involved in it. But with budget cuts and opposition from the mafia, it seemed like a herculean task to get the film made.

Whom Did Francis Coppola Want To Cast As Michael Corleone In “The Godfather”?

Mario and Francis Coppola continue with their jamming sessions, scrutinizing each and every detail and slowly building the screenplay. According to them, the Corleone family in the novel could be any family in America, as their ideologies could be resonated by people belonging to any ethnicity, not just Italian. Francis sees Don Vito Corleone as King Lear. He draws a parallel to the character written by the great Shakespeare and how the film was not just about crime or gang wars. It talked about greater values. In episode 2 of “The Offer”, we see both the stout writers, obsessing over ham sandwiches and spaghetti, while visualizing the world of the Corleone family. Now the big question was whether they would be allowed to shoot in New York, for which Francis Ford Coppola was very adamant, and whether they would be allowed to choose the cast based on who they thought was fit for the role. The studios always had a final say when it came to hiring actors. It was their will that prevailed. They didn’t only look at talent and the demands of the character, but took into consideration the commercial aspects too. The role of Don Vito Corleone was the pivot around which the film revolved. They wanted a magician for that role who could not only transform into the character but make it his own. There was only one guy that both Mario and Francis had in mind. It was the greatest actor of their generation, Marlon Brando Jr., who was the golden goose, but Francis was skeptical that Bob Evans would let them do that and not opt for an option like Steve McQueen. Brando was one of the highest-paid actors of those times, and his last few ventures were a financial disaster. It was difficult to get him on board for a project that was a bit tight on budget. But there was no harm in trying. Mario, without telling anybody, had sent a letter to Mr. Brando, to play the part of Don Corleone. He was hopeful that the maestro would reply.

Francis knew that the creative meeting that they were supposed to have with Paramount Pictures would put some limitations on the art they were wanting to create. He had a hunch about it. He keeps reminding himself that it is a possibility that a step could be taken with which he doesn’t reconcile but still has to agree to it.

In the episode 2 of “The Offer” we see that the writers were having a creative meeting with Bob Evans when Barry Lapidus barged in unannounced. He handled the financial matters for Paramount and was a colleague and arch-nemesis of Bob Evans. He tells them that they couldn’t shoot in New York as it was too expensive and would have to resort to cheaper options like Kansas City or Saint Louis. Francis fumes with rage as his vision is being tampered with. Bob Evans tells Al Ruddy to find some way to shoot in New York City and get the film made.

Francis had an actor in mind, whom he wanted to play Michael Corleone, Don Vito Corleone’s youngest son. He was a young actor who hadn’t done any noticeable work in films, but was a terrific performer, and Francis had seen him in a Broadway play. His name was Al Pacino. Andrea Eastman tells him blatantly that Bob will never agree to casting an unknown face in such a significant role. But Francis is persistent, and Ruddy backs him up and sets up a meeting with the young theater sensation.

See More: ‘The Offer’ Review: Miniseries About The Making Of ‘The Godfather’ Is An Entertaining & Sprawling Tale

‘The Offer’ Episode 2: Ending

Albert Ruddy and his wife, Francoise, meet Al Pacino and convince him to come for a look test. Ruddy still knew that it would not be an easy way for him. There was Joseph Colombo on one side, who was constantly being pressured by Frank Sinatra, and obviously, Ruddy had his own office politics to deal with too. The script wasn’t ready, and the actors who were contacted to play a part wouldn’t consent due to the fear of the mafia. Moreover, there was a rumor that Bob Evans was going to be fired from his post. Bob was the only person in Paramount who backed the project, and had been standing up to Barry Lapidus, who thought that “The Godfather” did not have the potential to be a financial success.

At gunpoint, Ruddy was asked to sit in a car. He was told that someone important wanted to see him. With resistance from all sides, it was a tough task for Albert Ruddy, but he had already decided that he was not going to give up on his dream no matter how big the impediments were.

See More: ‘The Offer’ Episode 3: Recap And Ending, Explained: Did Charlie Bluhdorn Want To Fire Bob Evans?

“The Offer” Episode 2 is streaming on Paramount+ and Voot Select.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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