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‘The Offer’ Producers Talk Taking on the Making of ‘The Godfather’: It Was ‘Really Exciting and Scary as Hell!’ (Video)

Nikki Toscano and Russell Rothberg, executive producers on the Paramount+ series, tell TheWrap about tackling the incredible story

“The Godfather” may be one of the most legendary films of all time, but the story of how it got made is a legendary one of its own, now being told in the Paramount+ series “The Offer.” And you better believe it was an intimidating project for the show’s writers and executive producers to dive into.

“I think it was a combination of really exciting and scary as hell, because you feel a great responsibility,” EP Russell Rothberg told TheWrap when he sat down for a Zoom interview alongside EP, writer and showrunner Nikki Toscano. “It’s the greatest movie of all time. And we were all fans of it and everybody in the writers room was a fan of it. And we wanted to do the movie justice and pay homage and tell the best story we could, centered on Al Ruddy obviously, because he was our main source. But I would say it was a combination of exciting and frightening.”

Series creator Michael Tolkin, who also wrote and serves as an EP on the show, interviewed “Godfather” producer Albert S. Ruddy about his experiences making the film, churning out 120 pages of single spaced type. And it’s the material from those discussions that became the compass that guides “The Offer.”

“Our North Star was Al Ruddy’s stories, this incredible sort of compilation of all of these different stories that had happened to Ruddy along the way in the making of this film,” Toscano said. “And then I think that we incorporated using other resources, you know, Robert Evans’ book, Peter Bart’s book, Nicholas Pileggi’s articles on ‘The Godfather’’ wars, a number of different resources to sort of gut check us along the way. 

“That being said, this is not a documentary,” Toscano continued. “We wanted to honor the creative integrity of the people who endeavored to make this film what it was, but not every choice that we made was governed by, ‘It happened exactly this way.’ Could it have happened exactly this way? That’s a question we ask ourselves a lot in the writers room.”

Although there are moments in the series that seem like they might be made up – for example when Miles Teller, as Ruddy, finds himself in a dangerous situation while returning from an outing with assistant Betty (“Ted Lasso’s” Juno Temple), or Robert “Bob” Evans (Matthew Goode) gets an uncomfortable warning – they aren’t.

“I think of something I would point to that I never knew before was that Ruddy was actually early on, threatened by the mob when they shot out his car,” Rothberg said. “And I thought that was something that you’d say, ‘Oh, that’s just narrative fiction.’ And it happened. Now did it happen exactly the way we portrayed it? Maybe not. It might have been a different kind of a shooting. But his car was shot at and I thought that was really kind of an incredible thing I’d never known before.”

Above all, producers said they tried to make a series that honored the story of crafting a film that means so much.

“I think that all of us were governed by our passion and love for the film ‘The Godfather’ and crafting a story and honoring and taking up the torch of the responsibility of recreating what it might have been like to make this film during that time,” Toscano said.

“The Offer” premieres with three episodes on Paramount+ on Thursday.

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