Warren, Jack, and Dustin wanted offers they couldn't refuse.
Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and Dustin Hoffman are among the future film icons who auditioned, unsuccessfully, for The Godfather. Robert DeNiro earned an Oscar for his performance in The Godfather Part II, but he originally went after the role of Sonny in the first installment. (Producers did offer him the smaller role of Paulie.)
Orson Welles really wanted to play Don Corleone. Screen tests surfaced nearly 40 years after The Godfather was released. The screen legend, who starred in one of the other greatest movies ever, reportedly offered to lose some weight to land the role.
It's fairly well known that Marlon Brando stuffed cotton wool into his cheeks to achieve the sort of bulldog look he envisioned for his character. But that was just for the audition. What's lesser known is that he spent three hours per day in the makeup chair during filming. The process included the application of steel-bar dentures specially made by a dentist.
New York, New York.
The studio reportedly wanted to change the book's setting to a then-modern day 1970s and have it made in Kansas City, to save money. Francis Ford Coppola fought to keep the period setting and to shoot in the much more costly New York City.
Stray Cat Strut.
There was no cat in the script. Francis Ford Coppola found the cat wandering around the studio lot and subsequently gave it a part in the movie. According to The Shortlist, Brando later had to re-record his lines, due to the cat's super loud purring.