Hollywood history is filled with stories of movies surpassing the books that inspired them, but perhaps none loom larger than “The Godfather.” Francis Ford Coppola’s film is so beloved that it is easy to forget that Mario Puzo’s novel was not nearly as well received. But a new miniseries about the making of the film, “The Offer,” has brought new attention to the differences between the book and the film.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Patrick Gallo, who plays Mario Puzo on the Paramount+ show, opened up about the way his different relationships with the book and the film influenced his performance.
“I didn’t read the book until many years after seeing the film, which I think is probably true for a lot of people,” Gallo said. “But I always loved the film. I probably watch it twice a year. The book is good, I don’t think the book is great. And I don’t think Puzo thought the book was great either. He wrote it to pay off debts. I think the book was written so the film could be birthed. The film is just genius, and it’s just a spectacular example of filmmaking and true storytelling.”
Puzo primarily wrote the novel out of financial obligations, but it also served as Puzo’s gateway into Hollywood. Gallo was surprised to learn the details of Puzo’s Hollywood endeavors, and says he believes it was place where the author truly thrived.
“I think what was surprising to me was him being such an artist, but he also really loved Hollywood. He loved all the people that he interacted with in Hollywood. Him being from New York, you think he’d be saying, ‘I just want to go back! I want to get the hell out of here! Get these people off me!’ But he said, ‘The people out in California, they’re great!’”
Even if “The Godfather” was not the author’s best work, Gallo developed a deep respect for Puzo while researching for the role. As he prepared, Gallo prioritized reading Puzo’s writing, choosing to develop his own version of the man based on what his work revealed.
“I did not want to do an impersonation of Mario, but rather use his work as a road map,” he said. “He was such an amazing writer, a poet.”
The first three episodes of “The Offer” are currently streaming on Paramount+. New episodes will be released weekly.