It’s hard to imagine Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic screen adaptation of Mario Puzo’s The Godfather any different from what it is today. Every element of the film just functions perfectly, hitting the emotional beats just so, the exact framing, and precise pacing down to the millisecond. And then, of course, there’s the casting choices.
Without Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone, Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, James Caan as Sonny Corleone, or Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, there is no doubt that The Godfather would have functioned tremendously different to what we know and love. But the possibility of something alternative very nearly became a living reality.
Above, you’ll find casting notes from Francis Ford Coppola himself during the pre-production of The Godfather. As you can see, there was quite some deliberation before Coppola finally landed on the eventual star cast. And below, you can view a gallery we’ve taken it upon ourselves to compile in order to help you better visualise the alternate cast that could have been.