GL: I’m still trying to digest the fact that you passed up a role in The Godfather.
TC: I was offered a spot in both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. To play Luca Brasi in the first one, and the Mafioso boss who gets killed on the stairs at the opening of the second one. But I didn’t do either show, because if I had, I woulda been just like any other actor – out for the money. Francis [Ford Coppola] wanted me on the show, but I kept saying no. To get out of going to New York, I kept saying I wanted more money, and they got tired of it, I guess…
GL: What kept you out of Godfather Part II?
TC: I went to talk to Francis at Paramount. I already had the part, but I still wanted to do a scene. Francis and his pals were sitting around his office and I brought a box of cannolis and Italian pastries as gifts. I said, “I brought you this gift to pay respect to my friends,” and I reached down into those dripping cannolis and pulled out a gun – boom boom! – and blew the hell out of all of them. And then I shot myself and staggered over and fell on [producer Fred] Roos’s desk – all the contracts went flying. And Coppola grabbed my blank gun and shot me back – bang bang! – like a kid. It was byootiful – I took ’em completely by surprise. Francis was stunned, “How much do you want?” But Roos didn’t like it, so he went to work and influenced Coppola against me.
One guy, a little guy, was sitting there watching everything. A young kid with a camera, but he wasn’t filming. He just sat there with a mean, kind of miserly . . . I could tell he was afraid by the lines on his face. Like he needed two inches of Chinese tonic. It was Martin Scorsese, somebody said.
– “Cracked Actor,” Film Comment Jan/Feb 2004; interview conducted in 1992 by Grover Lewis