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5 Times Al Pacino and Robert De Niro Were Up for the Same Role

When Pacino was offered the part of Michael Corleone in The Godfather he almost couldnt take it because he had committed to the Jimmy Breslin adaptation The Gang That Couldnt Shoot Straight according to a 2014 New Yorker profile. Producer Irwin Winkler refused to release Pacino and so Pacino pleaded with playwright Israel Horovitz to intervene.

I went crazy with Irwin and he said You find me a young Italian actor thats as good as Pacino and Ill let him out Horovitz told The New Yorker. Horovitz said he took the producer to see De Niro in a play and De Niro got the part. Winkler describes it a little differently in his book A Life in Movies. He said he had heard about Robert De Niro from De Niros early independent films The Wedding Party and Greetings and that after Pacino dropped out Bob De Niro came in and we instantly wanted him to play Mario.

A fun aside Harvey Keitel referenced The Gang That Couldnt Shoot Straight while appearing with Pacino and De Niro at the Hollywood premiere of The Irishman. Director Martin Scorsese introduced Keitel Scorsese Pacino and the rest of the cast and then there was confusion about which way they were supposed to exit. The gang that couldnt shoot straight! quipped Keitel.


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