Robert Duvall: My ‘Godfather’ Character was Inspired by a Real-life Mob Gofer

Marlon Brando and Al Pacino weren’t the only Godfather actors steeped in Lee Strasberg‘s Method.

Robert Duvall—whose latest flick, Get Low, opened Friday to rave reviews—also drew inspiration for his character in the mob trilogy, Tom Hagen, from real life.


Robert: Considered Carmine Galante lackey before tackling Corleone consigliere Tom Hagen.

Interviewed on Movie Geeks United!, the Oscar winner reveals that, while prepping for that role, a pal from New York City’s East Harlem told him about someone who worked for infamous Mafia boss Carmine “Cigar” Galante.

“He said there was a guy who was a high-paid gofer that followed [Carmine] around, and lit his cigarette, and pulled his chair out—a position that couldn’t be demeaned by others,” Robert tells hosts Jamey DuVall and Jerry Dennis.

“Kind of like someone following around a president. That was akey for me.”

Robert also discusses how The Godfather Part II differed from Part 1.

“The first one was much more fun than the second one, because Jimmy Caan was on. We were always fooling around, which gives you a relaxation on the set,” he says.

“The second on was a terrific film, but it was much more down to business.”

Speaking of down to business, Robert took his role-prep for 1993’s Wrestling Ernest Hemingway, in which he played a Cuban barber opposite Richard Harris‘ Irish seaman, as seriously as he did Tom Hagen—and how that work has paid off.

“What I did with that was I got three Cuban guys on tape, and I would only go to Cuban restaurants, I would only eat Cuban food, Cuban dessert, and only hang out with Cuban people, to kind of get a sense of that,” he says.

“And lo and behold, if I had never done that—[director] Terry Gilliam has approached me to play Don Quixote in his next film, if they get the financing.

“Had I never done [Wrestling Ernest Hemingway], he would have never offered me Don Quixote.”

Click here to hear Robert Duvall’s full interview, which debuts today at 6pm ET.

Click here to check out the Get Low trailer.

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