Elle Fanning has joined the increasingly impressive cast of Francis and the Godfather, Barry Levinson‘s feature film about the making of The Godfather. Fanning will star as Ali MacGraw, Love Story actress and then-wife of Paramount head of production Robert Evans, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fanning has joined the Francis and the Godfather cast as Ali MacGraw, an actress best known for her role in the hit 1970 melodrama Love Story and who bears no connection to Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather except for being married to Robert Evans, Paramount’s head of production and the producer who would famously clash with Coppola on his classic gangster film.
The film will “chronicle the battles between Coppola, who was 31 at the time, and Evans, which included taking a gamble on casting Marlon Brando, who had not had a hit in years, and a then-little-known Al Pacino.”
Already starring in Francis and the Godfather are Oscar Isaac as Francis Ford Coppola, Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Evans, and Elisabeth Moss as Eleanor Coppola. No word yet on who might be playing the other famous faces from The Godfather, like Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, and James Caan.
Fanning is a talented young actress, but kind of an unexpected addition to the film — the 22-year-old The Great star is playing MacGraw, who was in her 30s when she married Evans. Fanning’s relatively high profile also seems a strange choice for a character who would presumably not play a large role in the Hollywood battle between Coppola and Evans, though perhaps I’m underestimating the influence that MacGraw had on the production of The Godfather.
Released in 1972, The Godfather is considered one of the best American movies ever made. But at the time of its making, it was far from a sure thing. Coppola was still a relatively untested filmmaker when he was hired by producer Robert Evans, who reportedly thought Coppola should make the film because the director was Italian. Despite this, Evans and Coppola clashed throughout the production. “It was just non-stop anxiety and wondering when I was going to get fired,” Coppola said years later.
Barry Levinson will direct Francis and The Godfather, which is based on a Black List script by Andrew Farotte that was redeveloped with Levinson. Echo Lake Entertainment’s Mike Marcus, Doug Mankoff and Andrew Spaulding are producing along with Kevin Turen, Jon Levin and Baltimore Pictures’ Jason Sosnoff.
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