Oscar Isaac and Jake Gyllenhaal have signed on to play director Francis Ford Coppola and former Paramount executive Robert Evans in the indie drama Francis and The Godfather, which will chronicle the legendary making of the classic 1972 mob movie.
Barry Levinson will direct from a Black List script by Andrew Farotte that was redeveloped by Levinson. Echo Lake Entertainment’s Mike Marcus, Doug Mankoff and Andrew Spaulding will produce with Kevin Turen, Jon Levin and Baltimore Pictures’ Jason Sosnoff. Endeavor Content is handling worldwide rights with FilmNation.
The making of The Godfather was famously chaotic, as there were epic behind-the-scenes battles between Coppola and the studio on everything from shooting locations to casting, as it was expensive to film in New York, and Marlon Brando hadn’t been in a hit for years. A hit is precisely what Paramount was in desperate need of back then, and the real Mafia wasn’t exactly excited to see Mario Puzo‘s bestselling novel brought to the big screen. Of course, the 31-year-old Coppola had his own vision for the movie and didn’t like to compromise.
Levinson will now be faced with the task of finding actors to play Godfather cast members Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan, John Cazale, Talia Shire and Diane Keaton, as well as producer Albert S. Ruddy and Evans’ right-hand man at Paramount, Peter Bart.
The Godfather went on to win Best Picture, Best Actor for Brando and Best Adapted Screenplay. Coppola was also nominated for an Oscar along with Pacino, Caan, Duvall, composer Nino Rota and costumer designer Anna Hill Johnstone, in addition to the film’s editors and its sound team.
Deadline broke the latest news on Francis and The Godfather, reporting that Coppola himself has given his approval to both the project and the casting. The filmmaker is currently working on a new cut of The Godfather Part III.
“Here was a young man who lived outside the system and every step of the way the system was telling him, ‘You can’t do that.’ But Francis never gave up on his vision and the result speaks for itself, producer Mike Marcus told Deadline.
Hollywood seems keen at the moment to revisit the glory days of the ’70s, as Ben Affleck is developing The Big Goodbye, a movie about the making of Chinatown, which is another Paramount title.