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Diane Keaton: New ‘Godfather Part III’ Cut Rescues Sofia Coppola’s Panned Performance

Keaton admits she did not appreciate the theatrical cut of "The Godfather: Part III."

"The Godfather Coda"

Sofia Coppola in “The Godfather Part III”

Everett Collection/Paramount

Francis Ford Coppola’s upcoming recut of “The Godfather Part III” already has one big supporter: Diane Keaton. The actress starred as Michael Corleone’s wife Kay in all three of Coppola’s “Godfather” movies, and she tells Variety in a new interview that she did not appreciate “Part III” when the original theatrical cut was released in December 1990. Nor did most film critics, who gave “Part III” tepid reviews after rounding lauding his two earlier films.

Now Coppola has overhauled and recut “Part III” into “Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.” The recut includes a new beginning and ending to the film.

“It was one of the best moments of my life to watch it,” Keaton said of seeing Coppola’s new version of the movie. “To me it was a dream come true. I saw the movie in a completely different light. When I saw it way back, it was like ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ It didn’t seem to do that well and the reviews weren’t great. But Francis restructured the beginning and the end and man, I’m telling you it worked.”

Keaton is convinced that Coppola’s “The Godfather Coda” will have moviegoers and critics reconsidering the maligned performance by Sofia Coppola as Michael Corleone’s daughter, Mary. Sofia Coppola’s work in the film was met with widespread critical pans in 1990, with reviewers calling her “flat, amateurish, and unconvincing.” Winona Ryder was originally cast as Mary but had to drop out, opening the door for Francis to cast daughter (and future filmmaker) Sofia in the role.

“That’s not going to happen anymore,” Keaton said of viewers criticizing Sofia Coppola’s performance. “She’s what a daughter would be like if you had this guy as your dad, the head of a criminal organization. She was not so sure of herself and is kind of quiet. Kind of haunted. I thought she was fantastic.”

In an interview with The Independent earlier this year, Sofia Coppola said it was strange to revisit her polarizing role in “Part III.” As the director put it, “It’s hard for me to watch my 18-year-old self,” she admits. “So much time has passed but it’s just weird to see yourself with all that baby fat. It was strange to see … it’s almost like another person.”

Paramount Pictures announced in September that Coppola had completed his recut of “The Godfather Part III.” The studio will be rolling out “The Godafather Coda” in theaters December 4 and on VOD December 8.

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