Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How Marlon Brando Influenced Talia Shire's Performance In The Godfather, Coda - Exclusive

Anyone familiar with the Godfather trilogy knows of the looming presence Marlon Brando's Don Vito Corleone had over all three chapters in the saga, even though the legendary character dies in the first film.

Brando's presence was so strong that Talia Shire, who stars as Vito's daughter, Connie Corleone Rizzi, felt the legendary actor was very much a part of the flashback family dinner scene to surprise Vito for his birthday at the end of The Godfather Part II. In reality, Brando — whose iconic character supposedly arrives to the dinner in another room — wasn't even on set.

"I thought he might come [into the dining room], you know? It didn't seem that he wouldn't," Shire says.

Shire spoke with Looper for an exclusive interview about the release of Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, director Francis Ford Coppola's reedited and restored version of 1990's The Godfather Part III. Although Coppola changed the beginning and ending of the film while rearranging some scenes and editing others, the heart of the story remains intact: Don Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is struggling to get out of the criminal underworld in a bid to make his family business legitimate once and for all. Meanwhile, his late brother Sonny's illegitimate son, Vincent Mancini (Andy Garcia), unexpectedly appears on the scene with the intention of keeping the family's heavy hand in play.

Assuming the strength of Vito Corleone

Connie takes the side of Vincent in the power dynamic, because she knows her fiery nephew is very much his father's son, and has the ferocious demeanor to deal with the viciousness of the family's enemies. Guiding Vincent in his actions, Connie has essentially taken over her late father's role in the family — and Shire says to inform her acting, she channeled Brando's essence.

"I think for Connie, in many ways her evolution [in the third Godfather film] is addressed as the matriarch or the mother, but she assumes [Don Vito's role instead], because I think there's a lot of victimization in her life, and tragedy," Shire tells Looper. "She does not want to see this family end... I think Connie assumes a lot of the father. So, in a way, Brando's essence was in my heart as an actor. I missed my father. When you miss your father, you reenact your father. So Brando was very much with me."

Not only did Brando's portrayal influence Shire's performance in the film, to a degree he influenced Connie's look. "I did the role with my hair pulled back — that's Marlon," Shire says.

Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is now playing in limited release in theaters, and is available on Blu-ray and video on demand.