Fact and Fiction Mixed Into the Making of The Godfather

Since Paramount+ launched last March, the streamer has unveiled a pretty impressive slate of series, including new additions to the star trek franchise and a small-screen Halo adaptation, but their most ambitious series yet is one inspired by the larger-than-life story of the making of The Godfather. Created by Michael Tolkin, The Offer is by true events, though heavily influenced by the accounts provided by the iconic movie’s producer Albert S Ruddy (played by Miles Teller in theseries). In the lead-up to the series’ release, individuals who were privy to the making of The Godfather have contested the anecdotes provided by Ruddy, casting doubt on which elements are fact and which are just tantalizing fiction. Hollywood, after all, loves a good unreliable narrator and The Offer will undoubtedly please audiences both in and outside the film industry.

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For a series about movie-making that is produced by the very studio that it’s about, The Offer doesn’t paint Paramount as the godfather of cinema. The organized chaos of the era is on full display, from attempts to oust Robert Evans, to miscommunications and backstabbing, to fights over casting and budget cuts. While some elements are clearly sensationalized, the careful balance between the directors and creatives and the men holding the purse strings is made into a strangely compelling drama that plays out across the ten episodes. Ego and id are on full display, at their best and their worst.

Hailing a film or a series as a “love letter to cinema” is a hyperbolic sentiment often bandied about in reviews, but it’s a phrase that seems apt for The Offer. The series lays out the entire process of getting a film off the ground: starting from optioning the rights on an unfinished manuscript, moving to figuring out who is going to write it and direct it, and then the casting process, location scouting, and greasing. the right palms. It even delves into the near-constant race to land the next big picture, plotting the sequel as the film is heading into theaters, and using one success as the launch point for a career. None of this is glamorous, but somehow this cast of characters makes you care about every little detail of the process—you root for all of them to succeed, win, and thrive.



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Image via Paramount+

RELATED: ‘The Godfather’ Trilogy Releasing on Paramount+ in Tandem With ‘The Offer’ Premiere

Teller may not have been the series’ first pick to play Al Ruddy, but he was ultimately one of the best decisions that the series made. While making a fictionalized story about the mafia, Ruddy finds himself caught up in the real-life mafia, though they’re not overly fond of the word “mafia.” He befriends Joe Colombo (Giovanni Ribisi), works alongside his lackeys Caesar (Jake Cannavale) and Lenny Montana (Lou Ferrigno) on set, and essentially plays out elements of The Godfather in real life, from drive-bys to kissing the ring. Teller does an exceptional job of showing how all of this puts a strain on not only his personal relationships but his mental health. For all his bravado and cocksure attitude of him, it’s clear that he’s always waiting for the other shoe to drop.


Other standout performances include Bettye McCart (Juno Temple), who is shown as so much more than just a production secretary and framed as an unsung hero in the making of The GodfatherFrancis Ford Coppoladan folger), who plays perfectly into the creative genius of the director while embracing the friendship and brotherhood formed during filming, and finally, Robert Evans (matthew goode), who goes through some of the most extreme emotions over the course of the series, ping-ponging between relationship highs, career lows, with copious amounts of alcohol and cocaine in the process. While these four make up the main cast, some recurring performances are also inspired.


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Image via Paramount+

With Charles Bluhdorn (Burn Gorman), we finally get to see Gorman play a relatively good character. While Bluhdorn had a definite temper, which was understandable given the sheer amount of money on the line, Gorman balances it out with charm, particularly within the friendship formed between “Charlie” and Bettye. Barry Lapidus (Colin Hank) acts as a thorn on the side of almost everyone he comes in contact with, but there is a genuine mutual respect between him and Evans, even at the worst points in their partnership.


At first, I was uncertain about their casting choice for Marlon Brando (Justin Chambers), yet eleven they started filming iconic sequences from The Godfather, it all made sense. Chambers captures the mumbled intensity of the actor, managing to play not just Brando, but Don Vito Corleone too. Al Pacino (Anthony Ippolito) is another impressive casting choice, and it makes the fact that Pacino wasn’t the studio’s first choice for Michael even more confounding because Ippolito is as perfect as the real-life Pacino was. When casting actors to play iconic real-life figures, there’s always a margin of error, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one miscast performer in The Offer.

The series is set right at the cusp of so many careers launching unknown names into infinite stardom, and it is cognizant of this fact. The script carefully does out references to future shows–like Chinatown, Paper Moonand The Longest Yard—and sets the stage for an era in Hollywood that we’re all extremely familiar with. It’s never too on the nose, even when referring to the mafia’s hold on the unions or how aggravating method acting is. It reveals in the fact that the 1970s were an era where you kissed the rings of Dons just the same as you kissed the rings of Hollywood royalty.



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Image via Paramount+

From a production standpoint, The Offer also checks every box. While the casting decisions are spot-on, it is the clothes that really take the series to the next level. From Bettye’s fabulous wardrobe, to Ali McGraw’s feathered premiere dress, to the gorgeously tailored suits in each episode, BJ Rogers‘Costume designs set the scene and pull the audiences into the bright colors and glamor of the early 1970s. Costuming is such an integral piece when it comes to creating a series set in a fixed point in time, but it’s even more paramount (he has!) when costuming highly publicized figures who wore iconic, memorable outfits during their heyday. Even the background performers are flawlessly outfitted in each scene, helping to flesh out each moment and convince audiences that they are right there when The Godfather was being made.

The Offer is a nail-biting and exhilarating exploration into the making of one of the most iconic and influential films of the 20th century. While it leans heavily into the more fantastical accounts about the mafia and its influence on the film, it is still grounded in its approach and gives credit where credit is due. Key players may contest Ruddy’s recollections about the movie-making process, but it is impossible to deny that The Godfather is one of those movies where we will never know the full truth of what went into its production and success.

Rating: A

The Offer will premiere on Paramount+ on April 28 with new episodes arriving weekly.


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