Jack Nicholson Turned Down the Role of a Lifetime For an Unexpectedly Wholesome Reason
The actor was offered the lead role in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather, but he respectfully declined.
- The Godfather became the gold standard for crime movies and set the bar for immeasurable heights
- Al Pacino gave a killer performance as Michael Corleone and became inseparable from the character over the years
- At one point, Jack Nicholson was supposed to play Michael, but the actor turned the offer down for an unexpected reason
1972's The Godfather, directed by the legendary Francis Ford Coppola, set the standard for crime movies for decades to come, and few have come close to matching that groundbreaking masterpiece since.
Even its own sequels, released in 1974 and 1990 respectively, paled in comparison to its predecessor, and while the second film is still hailed as a masterpiece, the third is unanimously considered the weakest of the trilogy.
The story of Michael Corleone, brilliantly portrayed by Al Pacino, kept viewers glued to their seats as they watched him follow in his father's footsteps and eventually become the head of a criminal empire.
Who Else Could Have Played Michael Corleone?
While Pacino delivered an absolutely stunning performance and has become inseparable from the character over the years, he wasn't the first candidate for the role, as at one point Coppola was eyeing none other than Jack Nicholson to play Michael.
The filmmaker even sent the script for the film to the then rising star, but to everyone's surprise, Nicholson respectfully declined the offer.
The reason for this turned out to be even more unexpected, albeit surprisingly wholesome, as the actor revealed in an interview with MovieLine that he simply didn't have the right heritage to take on the role of an Italian.
Nicholson Has Always Had Progressive Views
In his own words, Nicholson believed even then that "Indians should play Indians and Italians should play Italians," so he didn't see himself suited for the role.
However, he never regretted missing out on what many considered "the role of a lifetime," because despite many possible casting choices, no one could have portrayed the young mobster better than Al Pacino, because he simply "was Michael Corleone."
The issue of characters of other races being played by white people didn't arise until many years later, when Hollywood slowly began to take a more progressive turn, so it's actually surprising that the actor has always held such strong beliefs.
And even though Nicholson turned down the chance to star in The Godfather, he has had many other iconic roles throughout his long career that have rightfully made him one of the greatest actors of the modern era.
Source: MovieLine via Screen Rant