The Offer

Giovanni Ribisi as Joe Colombo, Miles Teller as Albert S. Ruddy, Juno Temple as Bettye McCartt, Matthew Goode as Robert Evans, Dan Fogler as Francis Ford Coppola and Patrick Gallo as Mario Puzo in Paramount+'s The Offer.

Sarah Coulter/Paramount+ © 2022 ViacomCBS
June 13, 2022

Offer's Profiles

One early '70s re-creation deserves another. Celebrate the achievements depicted in Paramount+'s The Offer with emmy's salute to the "Do-ers" who made The Godfather a reality.

Barak Zimmerman

In 1969, Dewar's White Label scotch launched Dewar's Profiles, a magazine ad campaign that spotlighted rising stars in many fields.

Legendary actor Jerry Orbach appeared in the first of the series, before he was a legend. In addition to artists, athletes and musicians, the ads featured a physicist, a sled-dog racer, an architect, a deepsea diver and many other types of so-called "Do-ers."

Imitated, rebooted and instantly recognizable, Dewar's Profiles ("pronounced Do-ers," as the ads reminded readers), have stood the test of time — as has another product of that iconoclastic era. The Godfather was an immediate movie smash, but getting Mario Puzo's bestselling book to the screen took vision, diplomacy, guts and luck.

The ten-episode Paramount+ limited series The Offer brings this tale to life through the recollections of the film's producer, Albert S. Ruddy, who teamed with Puzo, director Francis Ford Coppola, Paramount boss Robert Evans, mafia boss Joe Colombo and many others to do something many thought impossible.

Emmy honors eleven Do-ers of The Godfather's story with whimsical profiles reflecting their lives as we imagine them circa 1972. While only fragments of those responses show up in the mock vintage ads, the Internet's infinite real estate allows us to share their full responses here.


Miles Teller as producer Albert S. Ruddy

How did you prepare to play a real person?
Al has been a legendary figure in Hollywood for over half a century and there were many articles and videos at my disposal to build upon in preparation, including the time during production of The Godfather, which is the central timeline of our piece. I was also able to meet with Al before signing on and after that meeting I was sold on the project and ready to dive in.

How much did you speak to Ruddy and/or people who know him?
I spent a good amount of time speaking with Al and several other people who I felt would give me a good perspective on him. I found there to be plenty of people with a classic Al Ruddy story they wanted to share with me. Our showrunner, Nikki Toscano, was also a great resource for me in gathering material and preparing to play Al.

Did you refer to any other people or characters — real or fictional — in developing this portrayal?
We had such a strong team of researchers and writers involved with The Offer that I could talk to throughout production to help with my portrayal and interpretation of Al. Al was also a producer on our show (of course!) and I could tell when a note was coming from the man himself, which I was more than happy to oblige with.


Matthew Goode as Paramount senior vice-president Robert Evans

How did you prepare to play such a well-known person?
There were several books which were useful for background information, [Peter Biskind's] Easy Riders, Raging Bulls being one, and [Evans' own memoir,] The Kid Stays in the Picture. YouTube was an extremely useful tool as well. There were several amazing interviews that Evans did in the 1970s where I was able to study his voice and try to get an idea about the timbre and the cadence. They were fascinating because of the level of detail. He wasn't particularly PC so some of the stuff he had to say about Robert Redford for example was quite sort of eyebrow-raising but it gave you a very good idea of who the man was.

Did you watch his early work as an actor?
No, but I knew of it. I'd seen bits and bobs of him on film. But I'm not there to see him portray a character; I was far too frightened about playing the real man. Although, when the film was in trouble, Mike Nichols made a four-minute speech that's quite amusing, which he put on film to send to the Paramount board.

Did you speak to people who knew Evans as part of your preparation?
A little bit beforehand but what I tended to find was that when I was in L.A., people who did know him who were at Paramount would come up and say things, or someone would possibly recognize me in a restaurant and say, 'Oh, what are you doing?' I said, "I'm doing The Offer. I'm playing Bob Evans." So many people would say how nice he was, and how they knew him. "Oh, I used to cut his hair"; "I sold him jewelry" — they only had the nicest things to say about him, which was fascinating.

Did you refer to any other people or characters, real or fictional in developing this portrayal?
I spent a lot of time on my own rehearsing because we filmed during the pandemic. There was a lot of waiting it out in my hotel room, so I was sending a lot of my rehearsal footage to [director] Dexter Fletcher, who was key in helping me get the confidence and helping me shape Bob; I owe him a lot.

Did you buy anything at the recent auction of Evans' personal effects?
No, I didn't buy anything, but a friend of Juno Temple, who plays Bettye McCartt, brought some glasses in that her friend had bought at the auction. That was really useful for me because there were bite marks all the way up and down the arms of the glasses, which obviously shows that he often had two telephones in his hand at one time and he was a perpetual chewer of glasses, which was probably to do with some stress of the job. I was able to incorporate that.

Could you imagine any of Evans' hobbies?
I think he was just devoted to the movie industry; he certainly was infamous for having soirées over at his screening room. I think he just constantly was watching movies in the screening room at Woodlands. So, if that counts as a hobby? He certainly wasn't on the golf course.


Dan Fogler as director-cowriter Francis Ford Coppola

How did you prepare to play such a well-known person?
I read the script and I wanted to start his journey depressed, in director jail. Hopeless — and then he's presented a miracle... an offer... I wanted to feel uncomfortable in my clothes. Self-conscious, not fully confident. I gained twenty-five pounds of pure Italian food (at least 15 percent was cannoli) and lost the twenty-five pounds over the course of the ten episodes.

I took a cue from the Hearts of Darkness doc, how Francis got consumed with Apocalypse Now and the shooting of the film became his nourishment. And all his anxiety with finishing the film and all the joy he had working with the actors. The big smile on his face even though [Dennis] Hopper's tripping balls and doesn't know his lines. He makes himself part of the circus — he has to be — as indicated in the "Keep moving, don't look at the camera!" scene on the beach. He's a maestro, a conductor — and a conductor is as entertaining as the orchestra. It's like he has to be at the center of a hurricane to do his best work. But Hearts of Darkness is post-Godfather so I went back further.

There's plenty of behind-the-scenes footage on The Godfather, and there's no denying I already look like Francis. I practiced Coppola's philosophy of developing actor chemistry through sensual activities, eating, drinking. I had frequent dinner parties and had the actors over weekly.

We paid homage to the "method" in our own way. Patrick [who plays Mario Puzo] needed a place to stay for the first few episodes, so we were roommates — spent a ton of time together just like Francis and Mario did while writing the script. He became a good buddy and I think that shows up onscreen. After Patrick moved out I moved the wife and kids in because that's how Francis would have done it.
Did you watch his movies as prep?
I'd seen most of Coppola's work by the time I was in college — and for actor research — just from The Godfather I'd choose someone from the ensemble and watch all their movies and move on to the next. For The Offer I focused on The Rain People, which was Coppola's film just before The Godfather. And Filmmaker, the doc on the making of The Rain People by George Lucas, was extremely helpful — seeing Francis in all his neurosis, without his beard. He had Orson Welles syndrome — being the smartest in the room but needing to constantly prove himself at every turn because he's still technically a kid in the Business.
Did you speak to people who know Coppola?
Yes, [Coppola's nephew] Robert Schwartzman gave me some tips. I did a film called The Argument with him that I know Francis saw and liked.

James Caan was brilliant — he gave me gold. Here's some of the notes I took: "Loves food, ferocious temper, soft-spoken to actors, loves actors... His way or the highway... Family family family... Mood swings like a thunderstorm. But silly... Kind but has superior intelligence and lords it over idiots! Can't suffer fools..." I put all of this into the role.

Did you refer to any other people or characters — real or fictional — in developing this portrayal?
My father. They're around the same age. Both grew up in New York. So the tone and inflection in his voice is authentic to that time period.


Juno Temple as Al Ruddy's secretary, Bettye McCartt

How did you prepare to play a real person?
In preparing to step into Bettye McCartt's shoes, I went down a wonderful wormhole of trying to figure out how Bettye would have made it to L.A. and ultimately into [Al] Ruddy's life. Something Dexter Fletcher had asked all of us to do for our first day of rehearsal was watch lots of movies from the '50s to early '70s. I also had amazing help with the transformation from the brilliant women who created Bettye's hair, makeup and wardrobe.

Did you speak to people who knew McCartt as part of your preparation?
Although I didn't get to speak with people who knew Bettye, I trusted Nikki Toscano (our fantastic showrunner and big inspiration for Bettye) with all my heart to answer any questions I had.

Did you refer to any other people or characters — real or fictional — in developing this portrayal?
I have truly extraordinary women in my life, from my mama, to my best girlfriends, to the women on my team, to the women I work with: studio executives, showrunners, department heads, actresses, PAs, writers, mothers — the list is kinda infinite. They always inspire characters I get to play and definitely helped bring Bettye to life with their wit, charm, fearlessness, knowing, strength, toughness, loyalty and nurturing. It's a little like when someone leaves a space and their scent stays; you breathe it in so it remains with you. We also had great pictures of young Goldie Hawn pinned up in hair and makeup.


Patrick Gallo as author and co-screenwriter Mario Puzo

How did you prepare to play a real person?
I decided first whether I was going to try to impersonate them to a certain extent or just try to find their spirit and let that guide me, with hopes that it would shine. I chose the path of the spirit.

Did you read any of his books?
I read most of them up to the screenplay of The Godfather.

Did you speak to people who knew Puzo as part of your preparation?
I would have loved to but I did not.

Did you refer to any other people or characters real or fictional in developing this portrayal?
There are definitely subconscious sparks and flashes of other people scattered within my performance, but I didn't draw from anyone consciously.


Giovanni Ribisi as businessman Joe Colombo

*No additional material.


Nora Arnezeder as Chateau Marmont owner Françoise Glazer

How did you prepare to play a real person?
Françoise has a strong background story. Which definitely helped me build her personality and emotional journey. Françoise was hidden during the Second World War. Her father died during the war. She was very close to her mum. Reconnected with her after the war. When she was a kid, her mum tried to protect her. Therefore truth wasn't always said. That's why Françoise is always seeking for connection and truth. ( at least that was my interpretation of the consequences of her journey and hurdle.)

Did you refer to any other people or characters — real or fictional — in developing this portrayal?
Yes, Jacqueline. This amazing woman that I met in L.A. who has a very similar childhood as Françoise... a Jewish woman who spent years in hiding during the Second World War. She was a kid. She moved later to the United States. Her heartbreaking story gave me fuel to embody Françoise. This may seem a little odd but I got Françoise's birthdate and did her astrological chart to see if I could gain further insight.
Did you stay at the Chateau Marmont as part of the research?
The Chateau was closed when we were prepping and shooting. But I did stay at the Chateau in the past. Therefore I have many memories there.
Did you speak to people who knew Glazer as part of your preparation?
Yes, I spoke to Al Ruddy. He was lovely and gave me some information about Françoise. She was working at a nail salon when she first moved to America. He also told me to be free with the way I was going to interpret Françoise. He encouraged me to trust my instinct. Which I did. I dreamed about her a lot. I really felt Françoise was with me throughout the shoot. She is still with me. I can feel her energy.


Colin Hanks as Gulf + Western CFO Barry Lapidus

How did you prepare to play a fictional person when most of your collaborators were playing real people?
We had a large cast rehearsal where everyone told the backstories of their characters, and I went about writing my own, a luxury given the circumstances, and tried to come up with aspects of Lapidus that were in complete contrast to the other characters. Specifically Al Ruddy and Bob Evans, or anyone else who butts heads with Lapidus.

Did you model Barry on any people or characters — real or fictional?
I didn't model him on anyone specifically, but felt the character needed to represent the old guard and the old way of doing things... in old Hollywood. A noncreative in the business of show business. Also, it was very important to me that from his perspective, he had a reason for his actions. Whether financial or philosophically.


Burn Gorman as Gulf + Western CEO Charles Bluhdorn

How did you prepare to play a real person?
Collate images, first-person testimony, interviews, articles, books and videos to start to get a feeling about the nuances of the person you are playing. With the idea of honoring the essence of the character, try to get a flavor of their physical gait and idiosyncrasies, behavioral traits and then focus on the parts that I instinctively lean toward. Prepare. Relax. Be led.

Did you speak to people who knew Bluhdorn as part of your preparation?
I did not speak personally to anyone who knew Charlie Bluhdorn, a man who burned brightly and passed at fifty-six. I'd have loved to. But early on a couple of Al's [friends] who were fairly deeply involved with the original film apparently gave me the nod after seeing some of Dexter's early footage and that's good enough for me.

Did you refer to any other people or characters — real or fictional — in developing this portrayal?
Tonally Charlie was known for being extremely loud and bombastic with a "cement thick" Austrian accent. In my performance I've tried to retain some of his tone and volume without losing clarity for a televisual release. I did study the nuances of Austrian and Eastern European accents from YouTube and voice tapes.


Anthony Ippolito as actor Al Pacino

How did you prepare to play such a famous real person?
First of all it's incredibly humbling and intimidating because he's truly inspired me as an actor. I mean, he's Al Pacino. It's interesting because he's obviously a very well-known person but I'm playing him at a time before he was famous. I prepared by watching all the footage of him that I could find from that period. There's a great clip of him accepting the Tony Award [in 1969] for Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie? that was informative. It was a lot of piecing together different things I could find. There were a few tapes I focused on most that were exactly correct for the period we were covering in the show.

He's such a beautiful actor so it was a pleasure to rewatch his performances from the beginning of his career. His work in The Panic in Needle Park, Dog Day Afternoon, Scarecrow, Serpico and The Godfather are in my opinion some of the best performances of all time. It was great because I was getting to study him, as in the man, the artist and be inspired by his work all over again.
Did you speak to Pacino or people who know him?
I spoke to Dexter Fletcher, who knows him and met with him about it. He was so generous about relaying insight as to how Pacino was feeling during the casting process and throughout filming The Godfather. He was also such a welcoming, enthusiastic, passionate director and was truly a pleasure to work with.


Justin Chambers as actor Marlon Brando

How did you prepare to play such a famous real person?
I watched interviews and read articles on Marlon Brando. I also listened to The Contender [The Story of Marlon Brando as an] audiobook by William J. Mann.
Prior to this project, did you identify with Brando in any way?
Years ago, when under contract for Giorgio Armani, he and his team would refer to me as "Bambino Brando."
Did you speak to people who knew him?
Our director, Adam Arkin, shared a story about his father and Mr. Brando's interaction at a dinner Brando threw. It was helpful hearing what Brando was like in his own home.
Did you refer to any other people or characters — real or fictional — in developing this portrayal?
My father-in-law possesses some of the same characteristics as Don Corleone. I utilized some of those attributes.

A condensed version of this article appeared in emmy magazine issue #7, 2022.

Portraits by Sarah Coulter/Paramount+

The Offer is available to stream on Paramount+.

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