Marlon Brando is one of the most respected actors of all time. While his credits include leading roles in classics like “On the Waterfront” and “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Brando is assuredly most recognized for his performance as the eponymous patriarch in “The Godfather.”
However, Paramount, the studio behind the film, were originally not keen on Brandon playing Vito Corleone. It was only after Lawrence Olivier dropped out and Brando had the screen test of a lifetime (he stuffed Kleenex in his mouth! Who does that?) that Marlon was offered the part.
The picture below shows Brando in the make-up room, transforming into Don Corleone with the help of oil grease his hair and dental prosthetics in his mouth. He’s allegedly running lines with director Francis Ford Coppola, pictured in the corner. Brando was notorious for refusing to memorize his lines and instead rely on cue cards. That being said, the man won an Academy Award for the performance so the technique clearly paid off.
The history behind the production of what some call the greatest movie of all time is fascinating. For instance, did you know the studio tried to fire Al Pacino three times during filming? They believed Pacino was too “anemic” to play the role of Michael, and it was only Coppola’s insistence that kept Pacino employed. And thank god, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the heir to the Corleone family.