Don Vito Corleone’s tabby cat sitting on his lap in his office in the iconic film The Godfather was a stray cat found by the director Francis Ford Coppola on the studio lot.
The film script did not call for the inclusion of a cat but Coppola decided on a role for the tabby. He asked Marlon Brando to improvise with the cat on his lap. Brando was made for the job.
Ronnie Fieg on Twitter (I don’t know his credentials) says that the cat loved Brando so much that he sat on his lap the whole day during takes.
During his daily walks to the set, Coppola would often see a stray cat, and on the day of shooting the scenes in Vito’s study, Coppola took the cat and told Brando to improvise with it. The cat loved Brando so much that it sat in his lap during takes for the whole day. pic.twitter.com/e8wrnzPQcU
— Ronnie Fieg (@RonnieFieg) January 13, 2020
Apparently the cat loved Brando and purred incessantly which partly muffled Brando’s dialogue. His lines had to be ‘looped’. This means his dialogue was re-recorded after the filming to improve the audio quality.
Comment: The story does not surprise me. First off, Brando loved cats. There are many photos of him interacting with cats. Perhaps his love of cats (and animals?) came from his admitted lack of love from his mother who he said chose a bottle over caring for him.
Also his very natural handling of the cat on his lap while delivering his lines indicates that he knew how to interact with cats. He was perfect. The cat certainly loved the petting.
I wonder if Brando suggested the addition of the cat which motivated Coppola to find and collect that sweet stray. And I don’t think Brando would have minded one bit that he had to re-record his dialogue because of the cat’s purring.
Brando earned $6.5 million for the role in today’s money. He wore a dentist-made plastic insert in his mouth to create that bulldog look. He had put cotton wool in his mouth during the audition.
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