Television Critics Association Week celebrations continue and we were thrilled the join the panel for THE OFFER, arriving this April on Paramount+. Lovers of Cinema should be delighted about this one as it tells us the backstory behind the development of Francis Ford Coppola‘s game-changing THE GODFATHER. Dexter Fletcher directs and the Series is told from the eyes of Canadian-born Producer Albert S. Ruddy, played by Miles Teller.
Joining the Panel were:
Nikki Toscano, Executive Producer
Michael Tolkin, Executive Producer
Dexter Fletcher, Executive Producer
Miles Teller, Executive Producer and Star
Executive Producer Nikki Toscano tells us about what The Godfather meant to her and what THE OFFER explores.
Toscano: “I grew-up on The Godfather. The first time I saw it, I wasn’t even a teenager. I was enthralled by the masterful and subtle storytelling, it became the high watermark in my mind of what was possible, and it continues to inform me. To this day, I discover new things every time I watch it. I can keep watching it because The Godfather explores the most universal theme of all, family. THE OFFER is the story of Producer Albert S. Ruddy, who goes into the mattresses to get his film made. It’s told from Ruddy‘s POV and examines the many challenges he faced. Evading mandates from his corporate bosses at Gulf and Western, to threats from the real-life mafia, all the while navigating the nuances of Hollywood to get the job done.”.
The Godfather is based on Mario Puzo’s Novel and not a lot is known about this character played by Patrick Gallo. Toscano, Fletcher and Tolkin tell us what they know and thought of Mario.
Toscano: “Mario‘s character for us had not been exposed to Hollywood in any sort of way. We see the story through Al and Mario‘s eyes. I think what Patrick brought to the character was the excitement of what it was like to have Mario‘s book adapted, to be a Producer and a part of this Hollywood machine.”.
Fletcher: “We understand that Mario Puzo was someone who wrote from a very personal place, and brought this energy and family feel to that book. Patrick brought all that enthusiasm and warmth to it, so that we could create around that heart and warmth… It was important we create a family-feel, a real ensemble.”.
Tolkin: “The only story I knew about making The Godfather was that Mario Puzo got into a fight with Frank Sinatra one night at Chasen’s. So I had five minutes of the Show written. I just needed nine hours and fifty-five minutes more to fill in.”.
Miles Teller tells us about Ruddy and the pressure to play someone real.
Teller: “For me, playing Al, he’s certainly not as well-known, at least mannerisms-wise as some of these other characters in the story. I think it is important you do have a little more freedom there as far as your character likeness and your interpretation of them, you feel like you really need to hit certain things. I didn’t really feel that, but whenever you play someone in real life, there’s a great responsibility that comes with that. I think you do that through the internalization and your interpretation of the work that you do hopefully capture that person’s essence. I think someone can watch the Show who knows Al and feel that there’s something there, that we’re sharing some sort of DNA, something akin to each other. There’s a great responsibility when you’re taking on somebody’s life and re-telling it, especially a life that was as full as Al’s was. I was telling my wife if someone made a movie about my life, you couldn’t even fill 30 minutes of it! I mean, I enjoy my life but it’s nowhere as entertaining as Al. More than anything, I just had a blast playing him, just being able to re-tell his story. I wanted to text him and tell him ‘Al, this is so much fun! Playing you is really keeping me on my toes!’.”.
Matthew Goode tells us about playing Producer Robert Evans.
Goode: “I would suggest that Bob Evans was pretty well known. I found it quite terrifying when Dexter and Nikki gave me the job. I felt a lot better when I was doing my scenes with Marlon Brando (Justin Chambers). That actually gave me a lot of comfort. I was like, ‘I’m up against him, but let’s see what you’ve got pal!’. There’s an awful lot you can find on the internet. As Bob himself said, ‘There’s always your version, the other person’s version and then the truth.’. Even just the foreword of his book by Peter Bart, there’s a really interesting idea to play a character we don’t really know much about, which I thought Josh (Zuckerman) did brilliantly. Even in the foreword it gives you quite a bit of information. I found out a lot by talking to people in Hollywood and they’d go, ‘Hey, he used to go to the same hairdresser as me, this, that and the other…’. All the stories, considering there’s a lot of contentious stuff about his history, most of these people would say ‘He was the nicest, he was the kindest, he was the most generous’, and perhaps his downfall was due to his more angel side than his darker side.”.
Juno Temple gives us a bit of insight into the process behind playing famed agent Bettye McCartt.
Temple: “We started the whole process a bit later, closer to when we actually started filming. For Bettye McCartt, there really isn’t a lot of information to find about her. Like Nikki, I watched The Godfather before I was a teenager, and it deeply-affected me and I have such a romanticism of Hollywood-past. And I’m so intoxicated by it and the group of people making this was so extraordinary including Miles Teller, whom I’ve wanted to work with forever, and Nikki, the most badass, brilliant woman in Hollywood. And suddenly I got told I was going to be a part of it and it was about a character I didn’t know anything about. Dexter did this incredible thing when we all gathered and the weekend before we had the luxury of a couple weeks of rehearsal, he actually said ‘You guys have a little bit of homework to do. I would like for you to come in Monday with a backstory of who you are and how you got to the moment of meeting Al Ruddy, taking you forward in the journey to making The Godfather.’. It was such a profoundly brilliant experience because you’re sitting in a circle of faces that you potentially know from work they’ve done. And while they are playing characters you potentially know really well, or you don’t know so much about, or you just heard their names or you don’t know anything about them at all. Each person had done such extraordinary research whether they were making-up what they could with whatever little information they found on the internet, or whether they really had these facts. It didn’t matter because suddenly you were in a room with these people and it made sense why they were going to be involved with the movie.”.
Toscano, Tolkin and Fletcher talk about the choice to tell THE OFFER as a TV Show versus a Movie.
Toscano: “That comment is a reflection of the time. Wonderful things are being done on TV these days. In some ways it’s poking-fun at the time period.”.
Tolkin: “TV’s become the great delivery system for storytelling now. We’re happy watching ten hours of a television series than 90 minutes of a movie most of the time.”.
Fletcher: “We went for style and impact and we made something as big and impressive as we could with the resources we had. We didn’t go about it thinking it was for TV and aim for the stars. We go big, we go bold and I don’t think we drew that line. Hopefully part of the strength of what we put out feels like we’re in keeping with the movies. I think it pays homage to that.”.
THE OFFER arrives April 28, 2022 on Paramount+.
(Photo/video credit: Paramount)
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