‘The Godfather’ Star Al Pacino Reveals He Was Constantly on the Brink of Losing His Role

by Craig Garrett

Al Pacino is one of the most respected actors around. But he claims he nearly lost his famous The Godfather role. At a recent Q & A session following a 50th-anniversary screening of the film, Pacino opened up about the near-miss.

The actor’s break-out role as Michael Corleone was only preserved when director Francis Ford Coppola stepped in. Apparently, studio execs were not happy with the footage they had screened so far. But Coppola decided to place an electric scene ahead to calm them. The iconic scene in which Pacino’s character assassinates a pair of rivals in a cafe after retrieving a pistol from the bathroom.

“They were going to let me go. Francis said, ‘I want you to know, I believe in you. Francis pushes that scene forward. The studio liked it,” Deadline reports Al Pacino saying. Of course, 1972’s The Godfather went on to be a cultural phenomenon. The film won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and landed Marlon Brando Best Actor for his performance as the family patriarch, Vito. The Godfather spawned two sequels, sports a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, and ranks second on AFI’s “Top 100 movies of All Time” list.

Al Pacino’s prolific career continues going strong

Undoubtedly, Al Pacino is one of the most prolific actors of his generation. To date, Pacino has been nominated for 9 Academy Awards, winning once for 1993’s Scent of a Woman. He has expertly shifted between high-profile roles in film, television, and theater. In addition to his Oscar, Pacino has won two primetime Emmys for his work in television. He also has two Tony’s to show for his theater career.

Another acting powerhouse, Robert De Niro, introduced Pacino at the 50th Anniversary The Godfather screening. The pair have worked together multiple times, first sharing a scene together in the 1995 crime thriller, Heat. Al Pacino and De Niro most recently shared the screen in Netflix’s The Irishman in 2020. During his introduction, De Niro quipped about their shared Godfather history.

“I auditioned for The Godfather along with every other actor in New York. And Al, of course, got the role of Michael. I guess they thought I was too young and too good looking.,” De Niro joked. “Ironically, I did play [the younger version of Vito] his father in [The Godfather] Part II. When I asked him [Al Pacino] to come to the festival this year I said, ‘It’s Fathers Day. You’ve got to show some respect.’”

Al Pacino was most recently seen in the 2021 Ridley Scott film, House of Gucci. Returning to his theater roots, the actor will next be seen in a screen adaptation of King Lear, playing the titular role. The Godfather is currently streaming on Paramount Plus.