“I Would Not Have Signed On to Remake ‘The Godfather'”: THR Presents’ Q&A With Miles Teller and Cast of The Offer’

Matthew Goode, Juno Temple, Dan Fogler and executive producer Nikka Toscano also discuss the "responsibility" of accurately telling the story behind the making of Coppola's 1972 masterpiece.

As the 10th and final episode of The Offer arrives to Paramount+ this week, several of its creators reunited for a THR Presents conversation powered by Vision Media to discuss the limited series, about the genesis of The Godfather. Bouncing from Hollywood backlots to the New York criminal underworld to Sicily, the show makes clear how unlikely it was that one of the greatest films ever made was made at all. Joining the panel were cast members Miles Teller (who plays producer Albert S. Ruddy), Juno Temple (as Ruddy’s secretary Bettye McCartt), Matthew Goode (as legendary Paramount studio chief Robert Evans), Dan Fogler (as The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola) and executive producer Nikki Toscano.

Related Stories

In the video above, the panelists recall the first time they saw the 1972 masterpiece, explain how they researched their characters and convey their hope that Coppola — who has distanced himself from the series’ version of events — will eventually come around.

If The Offer doesn’t perfectly align with Coppola’s recollections, that’s not surprising. The series draws from a variety of primary sources but relies primarily on the memories of Ruddy, the film’s sole producer, and — as Teller is quick to point out — “the last sole recipient of the best-picture Oscar.” Unlike his cast mates, Teller had the opportunity to meet with the person he was portraying. (Ruddy, 92, was a consultant on The Offer.) “Al’s a man of action, and that’s something I really appreciated while playing him.” As related in the show, Ruddy battled crises on every front, as dogged in standing up to the bean counters at Paramount’s parent company, Gulf + Western, as he was in confronting the New York mob, which tried at first to quash the production. “He was constantly juggling and having to keep so many different balls in the air and having to deal with so many different types of people.”

Developed by Michael Tolkin (writer of Robert Altman’s inside-Hollywood gem The Player), The Offer is about overcoming the millions of challenges that can threaten to upend a production. The series itself was no exception, having been shot in the middle of a global pandemic. But perhaps even more daunting was what the panelists describe as the “responsibility” they felt to do justice to Coppola’s film. “Just making sure that you know, every decision that was being made was honoring the spirit of the original film,” said Toscano. “There was a lot of stuff that was incredibly meta, you know, shooting on the same stages that The Godfather shot on.”

“I would not have signed on to a project to remake The Godfather,” said Teller.

Fogler, an unabashed Godfather fanatic whom everyone on the panel agreed would win a Corleone-themed trivia contest, felt the weight of that responsibility keenly. In preparing to play Coppola, he reached out to people involved in the original film. Among the most helpful was James Caan. “I was talking to Sonny [Corleone], man,” says Fogler. “Oh my God, he was hilarious. And he just gave me some beautiful tips. One of them was that [Coppola] has got a ferocious temper, but he’s also silly and loves actors. But he doesn’t suffer fools. And if you’re an idiot, he’s gonna let you know.”

Fogler was eager to get the “stamp of approval” from Coppola himself, and felt disheartened when the director told Variety that the show “doesn’t really reflect what happened, in my opinion.”

“I wonder if he’s looking at me going. I wish they got a taller actor,” Fogler jokes. “I tried to straighten up! But, then you do it. And you’re just like, you know, what? I feel like I have the essence of this.” Fogler feels confident that in time Coppola will come to appreciate the love with which the actor imbued his characterization. “I feel like I’m doing the best that I possibly can here. you really hope that you’re paying homage and then they’re gonna appreciate that. I think he will. … Time will tell.”

Matthew Goode was in some ways off the hook because Robert Evans, who died in 2019, is no longer around to scrutinize the character he played. But he was under a different kind of pressure, given Evans’ formidable stature in Hollywood as the larger-than-life producer behind such classics as Rosemary’s Baby, Love Story and Chinatown. Goode — who has earned widespread acclaim for his characterization — explains how he captured Evans’ louche charm. In addition to watching footage of the producer as an older man, notably in the 2002 doc The Kid Stays in the Picture, Goode drew extensively from YouTube clips of Evans in his ’60s and ’70s heyday.

“He has a wonderful timbre and cadence, Bob,” said Goode. “So you start playing around with that, and then you flesh it out with some more information from real people and from books.”

Bettye McCartt was a far less public figure than the other principals, which presented challenges for Temple. But in doing her research, Temple developed a profound appreciation for the pivotal role McCartt played in bringing The Godfather to fruition. “[I have] enormous respect for her, actually,” said Temple. “Because, in this day and age, it’s pretty hard to not be able to Google somebody and find out what blood type they are, what their favorite meal is, and who they’re sleeping with. … So I was like, ‘Wow, that’s pretty spectacular that she kept her life and impact in Hollywood quite private. And it [freed] me up. I think it meant that I asked a lot of questions, but I guess I do that a lot anyway.”

If someone were ever to make a show about the show about the movie about the book of The Godfather, would it be a comedy or a drama?

“It would be one where I was crying a lot,” joked Toscano. “I’m not running that show. I’m saying that right now. I think it’d be both.”

“Tragicomedy,” said Temple.

“We laughed a lot,” agreed Toscano. “There was an incredibly high bar for what we wanted to do. But I everybody [was] leading with their love this incredible, extraordinary film.”

This edition of THR Presents was brought to you by Paramount+.