Andy Garcia looks back on making 'The Godfather III' and hopes for a TV series centered on his character

ParamountAndy Garcia in ‘The Godfather Part III.’
  • Andy Garcia talked to Insider about making “The Godfather Part III.”
  • Director Francis Ford Coppola has reedited the movie with a version titled “Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.”
  • Garcia revealed how one of the most important scenes in the movie was done during reshoots.
  • He recalls the dramatic exit by Winona Ryder from the movie, which lead to Sofia Coppola taking her role.
  • Garcia talked about how a “Godfather Part IV” version almost happened with Leonardo DiCaprio starring.
  • Garcia said he would direct part IV or be in a TV series about his character if Coppola gave his blessing.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Despite having a long career filled with numerous memorable roles, Andy Garcia admits that the one that’s brought up the most is Vincent Corleone in “The Godfather Part III.”

Released 30 years ago, it brought Garcia fame and an Oscar nomination. Playing the illegitimate son of Sonny Corleone (played by James Caan in “The Godfather”), Garcia captured the same hot temper and womanizing ways for his Vincent character. It led to a powerful performance that continues to captivate audiences decades later.

Director Francis Ford Coppola has tweaked the final chapter of his acclaimed mafia saga — changing around the beginning and ending of the movie and shortening the running time — with the release of “Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.”

Ahead of the release of “The Godfather, Coda” (in theatres Friday and on Blu-ray/DVD December 8), Insider had a Zoom chat with Garcia about the making of “The Godfather III,” a glimpse inside the drama of making the movie — specifically the sudden casting change of Winona Ryder for Sofia Coppola in the Mary role — and his hopes for the continuation of the Vincent character in another movie or TV series.

Garcia says he’s never tired of people talking to him about ‘The Godfather III’ — and if there will be a part IV

Tell me what was going through your head when you watched the new cut of “The Godfather Part III.”

I was just watching it as I watched it the first time. I was very engaged and I was very emotional at the end. I watched it with [co-stars] Al [Pacino] and Diane [Keaton] and George Hamilton, and Talia [Shire] at Paramount on the big screen. And it rekindles a lot of memories when you watch something that was so important in your life. It wasn’t just any movie being a part of that. It was a very important time in my life so there is a profound connection I have to the film.

It seems like you don’t mind having had to talk about your involvement in this movie for 30 years now. Does
that not get to you? The constant questions?

No. It’s been such a privilege to be associated with Francis and this movie. “The Godfather” and “Godfather II” are very influential in my life. “The Godfather” catapulted me into wanting to aspire to do that kind of acting. And here I was asked to be a part of it, so this is one of the most important things I’ve done in my life.

Garcia got to take his father to the Oscars, who always worried about his son getting into acting

And on top of all that, you get an Oscar nomination. All this must have a special place in your heart.

Of course. It’s your colleagues speaking about your work. It’s that most important accolade you can possibly get. And I was able to take my father to the Oscars, he was in the last years of his life. So that was a special time for him because we had no history in show business at all in our family. Me going off to be an actor to him was difficult. He worried.

And this was like, “Look, Dad, I’m doing it.”

It was an important moment in his life.

I would imagine being on “The Godfather III” set for you at that time in your career was surreal because the largest set you were probably on before that was “The Untouchables,” right?

Yeah. And the set on “The Untouchables” was more intimate other than the big shoot out at the bridge. But on “The Godfather” we had operas and the opening party. And it was a long shoot, too. It was like five months.

Did it take you a while to get into a groove and really get Vincent down? Because along with the scope of the movie, Francis was changing the script all the time.

No. I was ready to go. I had been wanting to play this part all my life. [Laughs.] Here’s the thing, just like Vincent wants to be part of the Corleone family, so did I. When you show up, regardless who you’re opposite from, you have to be ready to go. That’s my job.

Godfather3paramountParamountAndy Garcia and Sofia Coppola in ‘The Godfather Part III.’

He never got to meet Winona Ryder before her dramatic exit from the movie that led to Sofia Coppola starring

And you had to be light on your feet with this. At one time you were going to work across from Winona Ryder as Mary. That didn’t happen as she got anxiety attacks and left the movie, causing Sofie Coppola taking the role. Did you even get to rehearse with Winona before she left?

No. Never even met her. She came to the set that day and was in makeup. I was giving her space because they were doing some tests with her. I figured when she’s finished I’m sure they will bring her out to the set and I’ll meet her. But she went home and couldn’t work and that was it. I never met her. I met her later on in life. She was in another movie so she wasn’t even in the original week of rehearsals we did in Napa when we first started. But Sofia was there and she sat in and read the part even back then. So when Sophia was cast I was like, “Let’s go, I’m all in.” I’m really proud of the work Sofia and I did and I think her work was unjustly judged.

Godfather 3 ParamountParamountVincent becomes the Don in ‘The Godfather Part III.’

One of the most important scenes in the movie was done during reshoots

What was the toughest scene to do?

[Long pause.] The most emotionally loaded scene was the transfer of power. When Michael says, “Give up my daughter. It’s the price you pay for the life you choose.” That’s a scene that you better get right. [Laughs.] I was very proud of the work Al and I did in that scene. That was done in a reshoot. Francis wrote that scene after he assembled the movie a little bit and we went back to New York. That’s when he shot that scene.

Wow.

So Al and I had months and months already of working together. So suddenly we get the pages in New York and I was like, ok, this is the scene. There were many different versions of that scene, even from the beginning. Francis kept tinkering. And this was finally the definitive thing he wanted to do. I think the pages came out that morning and we shot it in the afternoon.

Legend has it Francis’ trailer on set was pretty impressive. It even had a jacuzzi. Did you ever go in it?

No. But I saw it. Never went in it. And it wasn’t that big. [Laughs.]

It was one occupant only.

Oh yeah.

LeooscarsBarry King/WireImageLeonardo DiCaprio almost played a young Sonny Corleone.

‘Godfather IV’ almost happened in the 1990s, and Leonardo DiCaprio would have starred in it

As you mentioned, you always get asked if there will be a “Godfather 4.” Let me ask it this way: If Francis doesn’t want to make a “Godfather 4” but he comes to you and says, “This is a great story for Vincent, go and direct and star in it.” Would you do it?

Absolutely. Command me as you will. When we were doing the story we had some conversations about Vincent and maybe another chapter. Maybe Vincent is dealing with the cartel at the time and then going back to the 1930s, a period of the time that hasn’t been explored [in the franchise].

The glory years.

Francis would say “the happy years” when the Corleones killed everybody and nobody killed them.

I remember there was a conversation when we were making it, just a loose conversation and it was always in my mind. Then years later my manager at the time was representing Leonardo DiCaprio and they were working with Francis on a project and I just mentioned that Francis always had this idea for another Godfather. I said Leo DiCaprio is the right age, this was back in the 1990s, to play a young Sonny in the 1930s. And De Niro could play Vito, because he would be the right age for him in the ’30s. And then on the other side of the story would be me and Al returning as Michael. Maybe he’s still alive and I can still talk to him for advice.

They apparently talked to Leo and he liked it and they talked to Francis and he said have Paramount hire Mario to come up with the story. It was announced in the trades. So that little phone call I made ignited it. But Mario passed away like a month afterwards. So the fact that Mario wasn’t around took the wind out of the sails for Francis.

Have you run into Leo since and brought it up?

I have run into Leo since but we never discussed it. I’m sure he felt it would have been cool.

Garcia thinks a series about his character would make for good TV

Go make part IV! Tell Francis, “Command me.”

Whatever Francis wants I would never question it. I owe him. “I am your son, command me as you will.” Or if he wants Sofia to direct it, let’s go. I just need his blessing. And if he wanted to do it, he would do it. If he wanted someone else to do it and say “I have spoken to such and such director,” I don’t think there’s any harm in that at all. People want to see it. For Paramount it’s a franchise. Even if you wanted to do a limited series called “Vincent” that doesn’t have to do with the other movies. I’m ok if it never happens, but I’m ready if it does.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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