If you’re reading The A.V. Club (or have a pulse), you’re probably already well aware that The Godfather was not only Al Pacino’s breakout role, but was also an all-time defining entry in the film canon. Yet Diane Keaton claims Al Pacino was almost passed over for the role of Michael Corleone, a notion that has surely opened a portal to a very surreal alternate universe in movie history somewhere.
“I auditioned for The Godfather having never read it and I knew nothing about it, and just was there, I was standing there like every other woman. I didn’t know what the hell I was there for. And they cast me in that role!” Keaton tells Entertainment Tonight. As for her on-screen husband, she says, “Nobody wanted Al Pacino. They didn’t want him to play that part, and I had already been cast. I had been cast before Al Pacino in Godfather 1! Is this not weird?”
It is kind of weird to think about, but who knows the thought processes that go into casting. Keaton continues: “So I was standing there and they brought him up when I was standing there and we worked together in front of [the producers], and they gave him the job. Do you believe that? After he had auditioned before and they didn’t want him.”
There’s a butterfly effect for you: without Keaton and their chemistry, there would apparently be no Pacino as Michael. Would he have still gone on to have a successful career? Would the movie have made as much of an impact? Would anyone have bothered to make The Offer? (Actually, we’re still not sure why they bothered in this timeline.)
“What would The Godfather have been without Al Pacino?” Keaton herself wonders. “It’s just one of those weird, unusual things in life.” It sure is!