In 1972 Francis Ford Coppola made one of the best movies in cinematic history, the gangster film, The Godfather. However, it turns out that production on the thriller movie‘s set wasn’t always smooth, and that the director was constantly worried that he’d get fired – or, as Michael Corleone would say, ‘whacked’ from the production.
During an interview with Empire, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the award-winning film, Coppola, explained the constant battling with the studio, crew and other external pressures he faced while making The Godfather in the ’70s. Although the director managed to pull through and get the film made, he felt that he was on the verge of being fired at every turn.
“After Marlon [Brando’s] first day, the big rumour was I was going to get fired that week because people watching the film, running it, felt the scene was too dark, you could hardly see him, and that he mumbled,” Coppola says. “When I said, ‘Give me a chance, it’s his first day, let me go through a second take,’ they said, ‘No, you can’t.’ Then someone said, ‘The reason they don’t want you to do it is because this weekend they’re going to put a new director in.'”
However, following the example of the gangster characters from his movie, Coppola – in true Don fashion – took care of his enemies in order to stay on the project. “I just immediately fired all the people who were in my team who were lobbying to get me out,” he explains. “I went up there and shot the scene a second time and saved myself, basically, by firing all the people who were working to fire me. It was very much like that: it was touch-and-go the whole production. There was the perception that I had some power. But I really had no power at all.”
Despite all his naysayers, Coppola’s direction in The Godfather led to three Oscar wins at the 45th Academy Awards, which included Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Marlon Brando also went on to win Best Actor, proving that the lighting in the film and sound was just fine. Coppola went on to make two sequels to The Godfather, with The Godfather Part II becoming the first sequel to ever win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
Ultimately it was the right call keeping Coppola on board to helm The Godfather. We are pretty sure Paramount Pictures is sighing in relief that it never fired the visionary filmmaker now. For more tense stories here is our list of the best drama movies of all time.