Diane Keaton Recalls How Studio 'Didn't Want Al Pacino at All' Before Casting Him in The Godfather

·3 min read
Diane Keaton, Al Pacino
Diane Keaton, Al Pacino

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty; Allen Berezovsky/Getty

Diane Keaton is looking back on the making of The Godfather.

During her Hand & Footprint Ceremony at Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theatre on Thursday, the Mack & Rita star, 76, recalled to PEOPLE that Al Pacino, 82, was not an obvious choice before being cast in his iconic role as Michael Corleone in The Godfather.

"The studio didn't want Al Pacino at all," Keaton said, noting that she was cast before him in the Francis Ford Coppola classic. She then explained what caused the studio to change their opinion: their chemistry read. "So he brought Al Pacino in and we did it together and for some reason that helped them cast him," Keaton said.

"Can you imagine if you hadn't cast him? So a lot of these experiences that you have come and you're just surprised, like today, this was a surprise. This is [a] complete, utter surprise to me," the Academy Award winner added.

Also in the talk with PEOPLE, Keaton admitted that she auditioned for The Godfather without "having ever read" the book on which the movie was based.

"I think the kindest thing that someone's ever done for me ... is that I got cast to be in The Godfather and I didn't even read it. I didn't know a single thing," Keaton recalled. "I just was going around auditioning. I think that was amazing for me. And then I had to kind of read the book."

RELATED: Diane Keaton Admits She Never Read The Godfather Before Auditioning: 'I Needed to Get Work'

The Godfather Part III Diane Keaton
The Godfather Part III Diane Keaton

Emilio Lari/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

Keaton played Kay Adams-Corleone, the wife of Pacino's character in the 1972 film adaptation of Mario Puzo's novel, later reprising the role in the 1974 and 1990 sequels.

"I think about how lucky I am. That's what I think. And the way I think about things, like I auditioned for The Godfather, not having ever read The Godfather or caring about The Godfather or anything, because all I was doing was auditioning. I needed to get work," she explained, reminiscing about her career.

RELATED: Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro Celebrate 'The Godfather' in 50-Year Tribute at 2022 Oscars

Diane Keaton
Diane Keaton


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The Annie Hall star was supported by friends and family at Thursday's ceremony, including her daughter Dexter Keaton, 27, and 22-year-old son Duke Keaton, as well as her younger sister Dorrie Hall.

"It was just one of those things in your life where you just don't expect it and then suddenly it comes your way. And then it's like, wow," Keaton said of the ceremony. "I was thrilled, of course. And I still am. And to be here today is also great because I'm not frequently inside this theater and I love this theater."

Keaton's latest movie Mack & Rita is currently in theaters.