If You Were Going To Recast The Godfather With Today’s Actors, Who Would You Put in Each Role?

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by Mario Sundar, an American cinephile, @mariosundar:

Frankly, I wouldn’t remake the Godfather,  ever. It’s like touching Kurosawa’s works. Sacrilege!

But if I had to, I’d reimagine it in another setting altogether (frankly, I think The Wire comes close), while retaining it’s Shakespearean essence; here’s the cast I’d put together.

  • The Aging King: Don Vito Corleone


Morgan Freeman

I originally thought of Denzel, but that’s such a boring and expensive choice; rather, what if you actually made it an aging patriarch (a la King Lear), it’d really ramp up the threat level to the family’s enterprise, and I couldn’t think of a calming yet vulnerable lead other than Freeman. 

  • The Heir to the Throne: Sonny Corleone


Idris Elba

Have you seen him in The Wire? He’s one of very few young actors who possess the intensity, yet composure, that an unknown Al Pacino magically brought to the screen in The Godfather. Frankly, I’d love for Elba to play Michael Corleone’s character, but he’s a tad too old for that role.

But Sonny’s charm and intensity this guy can most definitely play.

  • The young’un who turns King: Michael Corleone


Jamie Foxx

Sometimes we forget Jamie’s an Academy Award winner and has yet again proved his acting chops with Django Unchained. So he can definitely play serious, and I’m sure a great director can get that out of him.

  • The foolish prince: Fredo Corleone

Michael K. Williams (aka The Wire’s Omar Little)

This one would be a departure for Michael K. Williams, but boy is he a good actor and would easily slip into the really big shoes left behind by John Cazale.


  • The consigliere: Tom Hagan


Christoph Waltz

Someone whose ethnic difference matters in this film. Hagan being a part of the Sicilian household is an interesting choice, and Waltz who most recently played a German in Tarantino’s spaghetti western would be perfect.

At this point, after Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds, Christopher Waltz can’t go wrong, but it’ll be interesting to see him branch out of Tarantino’s verse, and this is a role that he can really sink his teeth into.


  • King’s friend, confidant: Clemenza

Wendell Pierce

I almost went with Clarke Peters (Lester Freamon from The Wire) but he looked a tad much like Morgan Freeman, plus I figured we needed a jovial type to play a Clemenza character and who better to do that than Bunk himself.


  • Reluctant princess: Michael’s girlfriend/wife, Kay

Eva Mendes
She’s already played similar roles, pairing up with Joaquin Phoenix in a mob movie. She’d have to play a more innocent version of that, but, boy, would she be perfect in this role.


  • Troubled daughter: Connie Corleone

Kerry Washington

After watching Kerry Washington’s role in Django Unchained, I can’t think of any other actor to play Connie’s role who likewise has one of the worst scenes of domestic abuse played out in this film.

  • Evil emissary: Barzini

Clarke Peters

Yes I’ve always wanted to know how an intensely focused Lester Freamon would be, if he were evil. Well, now we’d know.


  • Arch nemesis: Solozzo

The one. The only. Samuel L. Jackson, if only we can get him to NOT play his own smug self. But I’m sure a good director can coax that out of him.

While considering the actors, I wanted to make sure they’d look like a family, be affordable as a team, and wanted to keep in mind the relative merits of these artists at the stage of their lives compared to Pacino, Duvall, and DeNiro in the 1970s. 

And here’s a potential setting:


According to the federal prosecutors chronicled in Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, The Music Business, and the Mafia, organized crime seemed to play a big hand in the music division of the entertainment conglomerate MCA Inc.

In 1983, under the new regime of MCA Records Group president Irving Azoff (ex-manager of the Eagles and Steely Dan), reputed mobster Salvatore ”Sal the Swindler” Pisello became a major player in the label’s business. Though Pisello had neither office nor salary, MCA kept writing him large checks — and he had the run of the place.

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