In the opening scene, Vito is seen holding a tabby cat. But amusingly, this was never actually scripted, the cat was just a stray that Francis Ford Coppola found while walking through the parking lot at Paramount Studios. After some fusses and charm the cat was written into the film and therefore, cinema history!
Orson Welles was desperate to play Don Vito Corleone and even offered to lose massive amounts of weight quickly, just to be considered for the role. Francis Ford Coppola who has gone on record as a Welles fan, turned him down for Brando.
The now published handwritten casting notes also show that Coppola was considering Dustin Hoffman as Michael!
Al Pacino was only around ten years younger than Morgana King, who played his mother. King was also a well known american Jazz singer!
...what about Burt?
It has been rumored that Marlon Brando signed up for his part on one condition. Burt Reynolds was being considered for the role of Sonny and Brando thought Burt was not a good fit: being more of a 'TV star'. He agreed to sign up for his role - so long as Burt was NOT offered a part in the movie.
Grin and bear it...
Marlon Brando spent around 3 hours a day in make up having a mouthpiece made by a dentist fitted to give Don Corleone his 'bulldog' like appearance. For the audition he stuffed his cheeks with cotton wool! The piece he wore for the movie is now on display in a museum in New York.
The term "Don Corleone" is actually grammatically wrong. In Italian, the use of "Don" is much the same as "Uncle" in English. The author of best selling book The Godfather Effect, Tom Santopietroalso states that it was in fact Mario Puzo who invented the term The Godfather for the novel.
Behind the scenes..
Did you know you can watch Marlon Brando audition for the role of Sonny on YouTube? The clip can be seen by clicking here - but please be advised, as with much of the film it contains adult language that may not be appropriate for younger viewers and that some viewers may find offensive.
Old Blue Eyes..
Frank Sinatra infamously hated The Godfather project and it was allegeded that he threatened to break Mario Puzo’s legs in 1970 when the pair were introduced — because of the similarity he bore to Johnny Fontane. It is also suggested in The Godfather Effect by Tom Santopietro that Sinatra offered to help Coppola buy back the rights from the movie from Paramount and to play Don Vito himself - an offer Coppola rejected, further fueling Sinatras hatred of the film.