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The Offer's Patrick Gallo Explains How He Played The Legendary Author Of The Godfather - Exclusive

In 1969, struggling author Mario Puzo's novel "The Godfather" was published. Based on Puzo's research into the world of organized crime — he claimed to have never actually met a gangster while working on the book — the fictional tale focuses on the powerful Corleone crime family of New York. The aging Don, Vito Corleone, eventually turns control of the family over to his youngest son, Michael, who starts out not wanting to be involved in the "business," but ends up becoming the most ruthless crime lord of all.

According to the New York Times, Puzo wrote the book — a pulp thriller with heavy doses of sex and violence — purely in the hope of creating something that the public would connect with, as his two previous novels, more literary efforts, had sunk quickly after publication. In other words, he wrote "The Godfather" for money, and his instincts were right, as the book became an instant best seller and, in 1972, the basis of one of the greatest movies ever made.

The production of that movie is the subject of the new Paramount+ series "The Offer," which chronicles the turbulent process of bringing "The Godfather" to the screen. Puzo, who co-wrote the screenplay with director Francis Ford Coppola, is played in the series by Patrick Gallo, whose previous credits include Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman."

Gallo, who claims that he "came from a world" in which a number of people close to his father were similar to those portrayed in "The Godfather," told Looper in an exclusive interview there was one thing he wanted to avoid when playing Mario Puzo. "I didn't want to do a sort of semi-impression of him," he said. 

Patrick Gallo focused on reading Mario Puzo's works

With Mario Puzo passing away in 1999, there wasn't as much archival or recorded documentation of the author as might exist today. But, that didn't deter Patrick Gallo from diving into the role, since he had no desire to simply mimic Puzo's voice or mannerisms.

"There was a little bit available to me," he told Looper. "It was a little more based in reading his work. He put so much of his life and love in the unbelievable amount of pages that he wrote, in his beautiful poetry. I mean, he was a poet, and I really tried to find it in there. I'm not as concerned physically about everything that's happening or doing an impression as much as I am about his love of art, his passion, and his love of life and love of family. Those layers were behind everything that I was saying."

Gallo added that his priority was capturing the "spirit" of Puzo, as well as the creative charge that the celebrated author — who later wrote many more books and screenplays — apparently felt in collaborating with Francis Ford Coppola, with whom he struck up a deep friendship (via Esquire).

"It was nice to find out about Mario's excitement for moving into this new chapter of his life," Gallo explained. "The book was already a massive success, and he was very wealthy, but he was able to move into this other genre, this other style of art. I think that developing this relationship with Coppola ... Knowing the kind of joy that he had making this with a fellow artist whom he respected deeply was a cool thing to know. That was inspiring."

"The Offer" is currently streaming on Paramount+, with new episodes debuting on Thursdays.