'The Offer': Miles Teller and His Co-Stars Break Down 'The Godfather' Series (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
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As The Godfather, the first installment in the award-winning mafia trilogy, celebrates the 50th anniversary of its 1972 theatrical release, Paramount+ is looking back on how the classic film was made with the original series The Offer.
Created by Michael Tolkin and led by showrunner Nikki Toscano, the star-studded, 10-part drama chronicles the unlikely journey of adapting The Godfather from a nationwide best-seller into a hit for the screen and stars Miles Teller as producer Albert S. Ruddy and Matthew Goode -- an undeniable standout here -- as notorious Paramount Studios chief Robert Evans.
“What’s great about the series is if you are a fan of The Godfather, there’s this incredible wealth of Easter eggs for you to take in,” says Colin Hanks, who plays the composite character, studio executive Barry Lapidus. “But even if you’ve never seen The Godfather, it still shows how hard and arduous it is to make a film -- even when it’s one of the best films of all time.”
“It’s a love letter to that, exactly,” Goode adds.
With the first three episodes -- as well as all three original films -- available to stream starting Thursday, April 28, Teller and the rest of the cast break down the key, behind-the-scenes characters of the series, which celebrates the New Hollywood era at the time and also features a number of cameos with Justin Chambers, Michael Gandolfini and others portraying the who’s who within the industry.
Miles Teller as Albert S. Ruddy
Teller, who has played real-life figures before, takes on the up-and-coming producer behind the film trilogy, who literally faced down members of the mafia in order to get The Godfather made. “So many careers hinged on the success of this film,” Teller says of the film’s tough road from book to screen, which sometimes included having “a gun to your head in a very literal sense.”
The actor says, “So, I think that adds an interesting obstacle to it all.”
When it comes to working with Ruddy, who serves as executive producer alongside Teller, the actor says the famed producer “has so many stories.”
“We sat in his kitchen and we talked for a long time,” Teller recalls, before adding, “One thing he did tell me is he said, ‘Just remember, Miles, a good producer will outsmart a good mafia every day of the effing week.’”
Matthew Goode as Robert Evans
In one of his showiest roles yet, Goode makes the most of every scene as the infamous executive, who was tasked with turning the floundering film studio at the time and eventually saw the potential in The Godfather.
While Evans’ life and career have been parodied onscreen numerous times, Goode says that he dug into old videos and interviews from the ‘70s in order to capture his charisma here. “We spent hours doing it,” he says, adding that in order to physically embody Evans, “I needed a lot of tannage. So, that happened.”
He adds that in addition to all the clothes and cigarettes, “I was lucky to have such brilliant makeup.”
Dan Fogler as Francis Ford Coppola
In addition to appearing on The Goldbergs and The Walking Dead, Folger is portraying the acclaimed American director who helped usher in an era called New Hollywood, when auteurs were challenging conventional filmmaking, with movies like Patton and The Godfather.
While Coppola is still an active member of the industry, Folger says he did not speak to his real-life counterpart. Instead, the actor pulled from the Oscar-winning director's notebook, “where he has all his little thoughts written in the margins,” and watched Filmmaker, a documentary about Coppola helming The Rain People, “which was him right before the making of The Godfather.”
Additionally, Folger spoke to people close to his family as well as got some insight from Coppola’s nephew, Robert Schwartzman. “Someday I’ll talk to him to see how he feels about it,” the actor says. “But I wish I could have gotten to talk to him, and I hope he gives us his blessing.”
Patrick Gallo as Mario Puzo
After portraying Anthony Giacalone in The Irishman, Gallo takes on the celebrated novelist behind the unexpected literary hit who was then brought on to adapt the book alongside Coppola. After the success of the first film, the two eventually went on to collaborate on the scripts for the second and third installments.
As an Italian American, Gallo completely identified with the book and film growing up. “There were a lot of people that were in similar lines of work that were around me, and many dinners where it was me and my family and cops and gangsters,” he says.
While he didn’t speak to anyone associated with Puzo, who died in 1999, Gallo “had an idea of his essence,” he says, explaining that “I’ve heard about him my whole life and he’s one of the great Italian American figures. He’s a great artist, literary giant. So, I knew all that.”
Giovanni Ribisi as Joe Colombo
For the series, Ribisi transforms into the boss of the Colombos, one of the Five Families belonging to the mafia based in New York City. In 1970, Colombo created the Italian-American Civil Rights League and used that to protest the making of The Godfather. “Joe was so adamantly against it, and so many people that were surrounding him were also against the film,” Ribisi says.
It wasn’t until he met with Ruddy, who agreed to remove mentions of “mafia” and “Cosa Nostra” from the script, that he finally came onboard with the project. Not only did the producer “get permission, but he got his support and they became friends,” the actor notes.
In order to bring Colombo to life for the screen, the actor not only put on some weight but he says “there was a lot of work on the voice.” He recalls, “I was nervous about that because of the idea of falling into caricature or having somebody seeing the performance and go, ‘OK, so this person’s obviously doing a voice and we can see that’s sort of transparent.’”
Rounding out the main cast is Juno Temple as Bettye McCartt, Ruddy’s secretary and closest ally, who helped her boss navigate the studio system, and Burn Gorman as Gulf+Western executive Charles Bluhdorn, who was keeping a tight budget on the film.
Hollywood and Crime Cameos
Rounding out the cast are appearances by Justin Chambers as Marlon Brando, who played Vito Corleone in The Godfather; Anthony Ippolito as Al Pacino, the unknown star who would become the breakout star of the film as Vito's youngest son, Michael; as well as Meredith Garretson as Love Story actress Ali MacGraw; Frank John Hughes as the legendary singer Frank Sinatra, who didn’t want The Godfather film to be made at the time, Josh Zuckerman as Variety editor-in-chief Peter Bart; and Eric Balfour as production designer Dean Tavoularis.
Meanwhile, several actors appear as members of the mafia and New York political scene, including Anthony Skordi as crime boss Carlo Gambino; Michael Rispoli as crime boss Tommy Lucchese; Danny Nucci as Congressman Mario Biaggi; and Lou Ferrigno as Lenny Montana, who worked as an enforcer for the Colombo family.
Additionally, Michael Gandolfini, who recently portrayed a young version of Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark, makes an appearance as Andy Calhoun. “I play like this western millionaire, trust fund kid,” he says, explaining that the inspiration for his character’s onscreen look was Jim Morrison. “So, like, you can’t get better than that.”
The Offer premieres April 28 with three episodes on Paramount+. The remaining seven episodes will debut weekly on Thursdays.