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 Matthew Goode Juno Temple Giovanni Ribisi
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 onMario 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 Ruddyand 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.”.
To be honest, we had no idea there even was a Martin Luther King Jr. Biopic in the works! Paramount Pictures over the weekend hit us hard with an amazing, gritty look at the Trailer for SELMA from Director Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere). We see nothing but chaos, a taste of an Era on the brink of a revolution
The story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s (David Oyelowo) historic struggle to secure voting rights for all people – a dangerous and terrifying campaign that culminated with the epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and led to President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
SELMA stars David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tim Roth, Giovanni Ribisi, Dylan Baker, Oprah Winfrey, Alessandro Nivola, Wendell Pierce and Henry G. Sanders.
Paramount Pictures release SELMA on Friday, January 9, 2015.
First making his debut in 1981 on TV Series Simon & Simon, Giovanni Ribisi has become a Household Name with an Acting Career which has seen both diversity and longevity. At just 38-years-old, the Los Angeles Native has built a Body of Work which has defined multiple generations. My Two Dads, The Wonder Years, Friends, Saving Private Ryan, Lost in Translation, Avatar, Ted. These are just a handful of his most memorable moments and the Father of Lucia/Husband of Supermodel Agyness Deyn finds himself returning to Toronto once again to promote eagerly-awaited Gangster Squad.
The Action/Drama has Ribisi starring as Officer Conway Keller, a technically-savvy Cop whose expertise enables the LAPD to successfully bug the Phone Calls of top Mobster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), who controlled much of Los Angeles in the late ’40s through early ’50s. The Team responsible for the fire-with-fire Takedown – The Gangster Squad – are played by Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Michael Peña, Robert Patrick and Ribisi.
The road to release hasn’t been an easy one at all for Warner Bros. Tragedy struck on July 20, 2012 as the Aurora, Colorado Mass Shootings had taken place during a screening of their Marquee release, The Dark Knight Rises. Furthermore, the Trailer for Gangster Squad was slated to run prior to that Film, depicting a gratuitously violent Grauman’s Chinese Theatre Shootout. Understandably, the Scene had been deleted out of respect to the current Social Climate and all those affected by the Tragedy. Re-shoots were completed and now the Film is ready for its big debut, but one glaring question still remains.
One Journalist asks the Question on all of our minds – whether or not it is appropriate to release the gratuitously gun-violent Gangster Squad, considering that another Mass Shooting has since taken place in Newton, Connecticut? Ribisi tells a tightly-gathered group of Journalists at his Toronto Hotel, “There are some heinous crimes which have taken place”. He pauses and says, “I don’t think it’s fair to hold Hollywood accountable for this.”. On whether or not he feels the Final Product was affected adversely by Reshoots and the deletion of the mentioned Scene, he says with unwavering certainty, “It is an even better Film”.
I asked Ribisi about preparing for the role of Officer Conway Keller, and although he was diligent about placing himself in the mindset of the day including Chats with a 90-year-old Expert on Bugging, he insists most of his focus was poured into getting the Dynamic right with his fellow Gangster Squad mates. He tells me, “It all began in a conversation with Director Ruben Fleischer in the beginning about Conway being the role of the Conscience and also talking about the broader picture of Values in Society, especially in contrast to today’s day and age.”. “Of course you get into the History, you read Books about the context of Los Angeles around World War II and The Great Depression, which is so interesting”, he recalls. “The most important part though, was that Dynamic in Conway‘s Relationship with the rest of the Guys and what they ultimately wanted to do.”.
Despite working together with an interesting mix of Personalities on Gangster Squad, including Brolin who is known for being a Prankster on-set, the Actor remembers, “We were in an Environment where we really wanted to do our best” – meaning little time for play. As an interesting tidbit, this in fact is his fourth time he stars in a Film alongside Brolin. “He is a good Person and has a great Sense of Humour though”, Ribisi praises. Also we learned, he also spent a fair amount of time obsessing about whether or not scenes really were working, revealing “I mean you have the Actors, so the Talent definitely was there… we had Sexy Beast Ryan Gosling!”, he adds jokingly. “Wait, did I really just say that? What is he going to think?”.
On his favourite part about making Gangster Squad, he admits that it was all about the Cars and Clothing. “People used to get dressed. They really presented themselves to the World. I guess it was A Streetcar Named Desire where they saw Marlon Brando in a T-Shirt and then T-Shirts became prominent, but before that People wore ties and hats”, he reflects. “And then there were the Cars. The 1947 Chrysler Studebaker I drove, and of course the Night Club Slapsy Maxie‘s. You walked in and saw everyone dressed to the nines… it was just amazing!”.
We’ve all seen Ribisi grow-up throughout the years, transitioning from Child Actor, now to playing Father-type Roles. Need I remind you of his unforgettable work as a Teddy Bear-obsessed Father dancing to Tiffany in 2012 Box Office Smash Ted? I ask him about his key to success in surviving the Industry. He replies, “I’ve never really thought about myself in those terms to be honest. I mean, that also poses the question, “What defines success?”. He adds, “But if you ask me, I haven’t accomplished my best yet.”.
Following our Chat, Ribisi posed for a few Photos, before heading back to his Suite to freshen-up for the second-half of his busy Press Day. Although he had pondered a popular Hotspot at his Hotel, it was his loyalties to a certain Restaurant he loved last time he visited in the trendy west-end of the City determining his Dinner Plans.
Warner Bros. releases Gangster Squad on Friday, November 11, 2013.
To enter to win a Gangster Squad Prize Pack, which includes a size Large T-Shirt and two Shot Glasses, simply click “like” on this Post at Mr. Will Wong on Facebook. You should also be following on Twitter! Canadian Readers are welcome to enter. Your deadline is February 1, 2013.
Mob King Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) has Los Angeles at the palm of his hands in the the mid-’40s: the Police, Politicians, Prostitutes and Pimps. What he doesn’t know though is that a secret group of LAPD Outsiders headed by Sargeant John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) are hot on his heels and eager to keep the East Coast Mafia out of the City of Angels. The stakes are upped as Jerry becomes involved with Mickey‘s choice Companion in Grace Faraday (Emma Stone).
Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), we’ve all been awaiting the arrival of real life-inspired Gangster Squad for quite some time now and its release is just-over a week away. As an interesting tidbit, Screenwriter Will Beall actually just five years ago was working for the LAPD as a Homocide Detective, landing at number seven on 2009’s Black List, honouring the Industry’s best un-produced Screenplays.
If this weren’t exciting enough, Giovanni Ribisi who stars as the technically-inclined Officer Conway Keeler, will be in the City next week to promote the Film!
Watch the Trailer in full below:
So ready for this already.
Warner Bros. releases Gangster Squad on January 11, 2013.