Warning: Minor SPOILERS for The Offer
In The Offer, a star-studded cast plays the real-life filmmakers who produced The Godfather. One of the most legendary films of all time, The Godfather celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022 and The Offer was timed to release the same year to tell the behind-the-scenes tale of how Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece was made. A 10-episode series streaming on Paramount+, The Offer is “based on the experiences” of Albert S. Ruddy, The Godfather‘s producer (and also a producer on The Offer), and it’s written by Michael Tolkin, who wrote another famous behind-the-scenes Hollywood film, The Player. The Offer is set between the years 1965 to 1972, with The Godfather‘s production taking place in 1971 before it was released in March 1972.
The making of The Godfather is almost as famous as the film itself. Based on the best-selling novel by Mario Puzo, Paramount Pictures’ head of production Robert Evans tapped Albert S. Ruddy as the producer of the movie adaptation, which the troubled studio desperately banked on to be a hit. After several notable directors turned the project down, Evans and Ruddy hired Francis Ford Coppola, who was nominated for an Academy Award as the co-writer of Patton, to both write and direct. Coppola, who was also favored for the directing gig because he was Italian, initially balked at the offer, but he accepted the job to get out of debt. Coppola and Puzo collaborated on the screenplay while Ruddy and Evans dealt with the major hurdle of filming in New York City. The Godfather novel was controversial with the Italian-American community and New York mobsters prevented the production from filming in the city. How Ruddy got mobster Joe Colombo on his side is one of the many tales in The Offer. The Offer cast had a lot of pressure to bring the real-life players to the screen.
Miles Teller as Albert S. Ruddy
Albert S. Ruddy is the Academy Award-winning producer of The Godfather. Teller’s depiction of Ruddy is as a man on a mission. Not only does he walk up to a Paramount executive in the lot after only having met the other man at a party, but he pitches himself as a producer and gets the job. He also does everything in his power to make The Godfather a reality and the series paints him as nearly single-handedly responsible for getting the movie on film. A former computer programmer at the Rand Corporation, Ruddy entered Hollywood as a producer, and he created the hit sitcom Hogan’s Heroes. Ruddy then moved into producing feature films, which he continues to this day. Ruddy won his second Oscar for producing Million Dollar Baby, and he also produced The Longest Yard, The Cannonball Run, and 2021’s Cry Macho starring Clint Eastwood. The Offer cast member Teller starred in Fantastic Four 2015, The Spectacular Now, The Divergent Series, Whiplash, and Top Gun: Maverick.
Matthew Goode as Robert Evans
Robert Evans was Paramount Pictures’ head of production from the late-1960s to the early 1970s. Evans is the go-between for Ruddy and Paramount owner Charles Bluhdorn. He is portrayed as a bit of a hustler in the series, always ready to give a speech on his love for movies, but also playing things a bit underhanded in his negotiations. Along with ushering in The Godfather, Evans’ successful but controversial tenure running Paramount produced the hits Love Story, Rosemary’s Baby, The Odd Couple, True Grit, and Chinatown. The flamboyant Evans was also married to Ali MacGraw at the time, but she left him for Steve McQueen during the production of The Getaway. Goode is best known for starring in Watchmen, Downton Abbey, The Crown, and A Discovery of Witches.
Juno Temple as Bettye McCartt
In The Offer, Bettye McCartt is Albert S. Ruddy’s secretary and resourceful Girl Friday who shows the fledgling producer the ropes and keeps him on track. Temple’s McCartt is just as front-and-center as the male producers in The Offer cast, a rarity in Hollywood’s historic pictures. McCartt has Ruddy’s same tenacity, inserting herself onto his team the same way he pitched himself to Paramount and helping to make the movie a success. Along with The Godfather, McCartt helped Ruddy produce The Longest Yard before she moved on to talent management. McCartt was the longtime agent and manager of Tom Selleck and her other clients included George Clooney, Billy D. Williams, Brian Austin Green, Anthony Quinn, and many others. Temple has starred in The Dark Knight Rises, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, and Ted Lasso.
Giovanni Ribisi as Joe Colombo
Joe Colombo spearheads Italian-American resistance against The Godfather novel because of their belief it defames Italian-Americans. Colombo eventually got the producers to make certain concessions, becoming an ally to the production of the movie as long as things went his way. Colombo was a notorious gangster and the head of the Colombo crime family, one of the Five Families of the Mafia in New York City. Columbo founded the Italian-American Civil Rights League in 1970 and, in The Offer, he uses his power and influence to prevent The Godfather from filming in New York City. Ribisi starred in Lost in Translation, My Name Is Earl, Sneaky Pete, and James Cameron’s Avatar.
Patrick Gallo as Mario Puzo
Mario Puzo is the best-selling author of The Godfather. The series makes the point that Puzo struggled when writing about the mafia, falling into stereotypes that audiences might have seen before, but he continued to put in the work, and he even co-wrote the movie. In 1965, Puzo was struggling and deep in debt when he decided to ‘cash in’ and write a potboiler novel about the American Mafia. The Godfather became the biggest-selling novel of all time when it was released in 1969. Puzo then worked on The Godfather Part II and Part III with Coppola, and he also wrote the screenplay for Superman: The Movie. Gallo appeared in Cold Case, Boardwalk Empire, and The Irishman.
Dan Fogler as Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola is the acclaimed director and co-writer of The Godfather. Among The Offer cast, Fogler has earned the most praise from critics for his portrayal. Fogler plays him as someone extremely focused on the vision for the project. He was a central figure in the New Hollywood movement of the 1960s and 1970s and won the Academy Award for co-writing Patton. Coppola also founded American Zoetrope, which was in financial peril when he accepted the offer to direct The Godfather, which won the Oscar for Best Picture. Coppola achieved even greater success with The Godfather Part II, which won him the Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture. Along with The Godfather Part III, Coppola directed Apocalypse Now, The Cotton Club, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and The Rainmaker. Fogler plays Jacob Kowalski in the Fantastic Beasts films and Luke in The Walking Dead.
Burn Gorman as Charles Bluhdorn
Charles Bluhdorn was the CEO of Gulf + Western, the corporation that owned Paramount Pictures in the 1970s. The eccentric, Austrian-born Bluhdorn hired Robert Evans, a former failed actor, to run Paramount Pictures. In The Offer, Bluhdorn is the boss of Evans and Albert S. Ruddy who struggles to support their vision for the picture while keeping an eye on his company’s bottom line. Gorman starred in The Dark Knight Rises, the Pacific Rim movies, and Turn: Washington’s Spies.
Colin Hanks as Barry Lapidus
Colin Hanks is one of the only The Offer cast members who doesn’t have the burden of a real-life person on his shoulder. Barry Lapidus is one of the few fictional characters in The Offer. Lapidus is a high-ranking executive at Gulf + Western who is cast in an antagonistic role and lords over Robert Evans and Albert S. Ruddy to make The Godfather as cheaply as possible. The Lapidus character is an amalgam of a few executives at Paramount and Gulf +Western who opposed the making of The Godfather. Hanks stars in the Jumanji movies, Dexter, and Fargo.
Other Real-Life Characters In The Offer
Josh Zuckerman as Peter Bart – Peter Bart was an executive at Paramount hired by Robert Evans, and it was Bart who had the idea to option The Godfather‘s manuscript while it was being written by Mario Puzo with an eye toward adapting it into a film. Today, Bart is the vice president and editorial director of Variety. Zuckerman starred in Kyle XY, Desperate Housewives, and he will appear in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer.
Justin Chambers as Marlon Brando – Marlon Brando played Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather, which won Brando the Academy Award for Best Actor. At the time The Godfather went into production, Brando was considered one of the greatest actors alive, but his career was on the decline because of his reputation for being notoriously difficult to work with. Fans hoping to see a lot of Brando will be disappointed as The Offer cast member Chambers only appears in four episodes. Chambers is best known for playing Dr. Alex Karev in Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice.
Meredith Garretson as Ali MacGraw – Ali MacGraw became a superstar when she starred in Love Story opposite Ryan O’Neal, which was produced by her husband Robert Evans. MacGraw was then cast in The Getaway and left Evans for her co-star, Steve McQueen. Garretson appeared in Prodigal Son, Fosse/Verdon, and Resident Alien.
Anthony Ippolito as Al Pacino – Handpicked by Francis Ford Coppola to play Michael Corleone, Pacino’s casting met with harsh resistance at Paramount. The Offer cast Ippolito for his combination of acting ability and his specific look. He bares the most resemblance to his real-life counterpart. At this point in his career, Pacino was a serious young actor struggling in New York with only one film to his credit before Coppola cast him in The Godfather. Ippolito starred in Pixels, Fool’s Day, and You Have The Right To Remain Violent.
Nora Arnezeder as Francoise Glazer – Glazer was the owner of the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles and is Al Ruddy’s girlfriend in The Offer. In real life, Francoise and Ruddy were married, and she saw him through the production of The Godfather. Arnezeder is a French actress who starred in Riviera and Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead.
Jake Cannavale as Caesar – Caesar is a mobster and the right-hand man of Joe Colombo who later goes to work as a ‘fixer’ for The Godfather‘s production in New York. Caesar is another fictional character in The Offer who is an amalgam of a few different real-life gangsters, including Joe’s son Anthony Colombo. Cannavale appeared in Nurse Jackie, Murderville, and The Mandalorian.
Frank John Hughes as Frank Sinatra – Sinatra was violently opposed to The Godfather novel and it being turned into a movie. This was, in part, because of the longstanding belief that the Johnny Fontaine character, who was deeply connected to the Corleones, was based on Sinatra. Like Brando, fans hoping to see more of Sinatra will be disappointed that this The Offer cast member only appears in a handful of episodes. Hughes starred in The Sopranos, LAX, and Criminal Minds.
Stephanie Koenig as Andrea Eastman – In The Offer, Eastman is the casting director for The Godfather who has to balance the desires of the director and producer with the demands of Bob Evans at Paramount. Koenig plays Sabrina in The Flight Attendant and will next be seen in Wilde Things.
Lou Ferrigno as Lenny Montana – Lenny Montana is a mobster with the Colombo crime family. In The Offer, Lenny becomes the basis for the Luca Brasi character in The Godfather. Ferrigno is best known for playing The Incredible Hulk in the 1970s and 1980s, and he also appeared in The King of Queens and Celebrity Apprentice.
The Offer is available to stream on Paramount+.