When Pacino turned up for his first screen test for The Godfather, he was hungover.
…he didn’t know his lines, and he ad-libbed the scene. Puzo felt that Pacino “was terrible. Jimmy Caan had done it ten times better.”
But Coppola wanted him. Coppola nearly got fired for insisting that Pacino play Michael. The studio wanted Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, or Ryan O’Neal. Everyone knows that. Initially, Puzo backed Coppola’s choice. He wrote Coppola a letter that he could use to show the execs. But when Puzo saw Pacino, he thought he really stank and he wanted the letter back.
And I was thinking: I’d love a few career breaks like that – you know, where you can metaphorically turn up hungover and fuck up your lines and still get the job because someone believes in you that much. Christ, who wouldn’t?
Photo: by Dan Winters for the New Yorker