Watch: Rare Footage of Robert De Niro Auditioning for Sonny in 'The Godfather'

Watch: Rare Footage of Robert De Niro Auditioning for Sonny in 'The Godfather'

Jan 31, 2012


Academy Award-winner Robert De Niro played a young Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Part II, but the actor was vying for a role in the first film before he become the young Don. Dangerous Minds shared this video of a young and then-unknown De Niro auditioning for the role of Sonny in The Godfather.
Sonny Corleone is the Don's impulsive and temperamental older son who is the underboss set to inherit his father's position. James Caan won the role, but was originally set to play Michael — a part that eventually went to another then-unknown, Al Pacino. Coppola fought to get Pacino as Michael, even threatening to quit the production if he didn't get his way. The studio used Caan as a bargaining tool, requiring the actor play Sonny in order to win Pacino. It all worked out in the end, but not for De Niro — who also auditioned for the roles of Michael, Judas figure Carlo, and the Don's driver Paulie. 
Would De Niro have made a good Sonny? The part required him to be a hothead, which De Niro certainly shows he's capable of in the audition tape. However, even though Sonny isn't as composed as his father, it seems slightly more believable that Caan's Sonny would be more capable of taking over the role of mob boss than the unpolished and still rough-around-the-edges De Niro. The young Vito seemed to suit De Niro best — a young man rising to power, still finding his footing, but a brutal force to be reckoned with. Tell us what you think below in the comments section.


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