You may not know it, but Nicolas Cage comes from a long line of entertainers. His mother Joy Vogelsang was a dancer and choreographer, his grandfather Carmine was a musician and composer, and his grandmother Italia was an actress. Perhaps his most famous relative is Francis Ford Coppola, the acclaimed director of Apocalypse Now, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and the mafia epic against which all other mafia films are judged — the Godfather films. The Godfather trilogy’s cast included such distinguished Hollywood talent as Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, James Caan, and more. According to a recent actors’ roundtable, Nicolas Cage absolutely begged his famous uncle for a chance to join that list for the trilogy’s final chapter, 1990’s The Godfather: Part III. In case you’ve never seen it — no, Cage ain’t in it.
Nicolas Cage was part of The Hollywood Reporter’s Actor Roundtable posted on Wednesday along with Andrew Garfield, Peter Dinklage, Jonathan Majors, and Simon Rex. All of the actors were asked to name a movie they would love to make, but didn’t think they’d be allowed to make. For his answer, Cage talked about begging his uncle for the part of Vincent Mancini in The Godfather: Part III. Cage told THR he presented his uncle with, “‘I really think I ought to be in your movie, Uncle. I really think it’s a good idea if you would cast me. I think I could play this part.'” The part in question was for the son of Sonny Corleone — James Caan’s character who is killed in 1972’s The Godfather — but Cage said he knew his uncle already wanted Andy Garcia for the role. Cage said he continued his lobbying with, “‘But I just see myself more as James Caan’s son, and he’s playing Sonny’s son. He’s not playing Michael’s son. He’s Sonny’s son. I just feel a little more James Caan.'”
The partg ultimately went to Garcia, who earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for the role, but one might argue that Nicolas Cage — unlike James Caan’s character — dodged a bullet. The consensus from mafia film fans, your average movie fans, and critics is that The Godfather: Part III is the weakest link in the chain. Of all three films, it was the only one to not take home any Oscars (though it was nominated for six), and on Rotten Tomatoes it has a barely passable 68% score, vs. the 97% (The Godfather) and 96% (The Godfather: Part II) of its predecessors. Not to mention that while Garcia wouldn’t win the statue for playing Vincent Mancini, Cage managed to bring an Oscar home six years later for playing Ben Sanderson in Leaving Las Vegas.
While Nicolas Cage didn’t get a part in The Godfather: Part III, that doesn’t mean his uncle didn’t include family in the feature. The director was heavily criticized for alleged nepotism after casting his daughter Sofia as Michael Corleone’s daughter Mary after Winona Ryder dropped out of the part. Sofia Coppola may not have displayed the best acting in the film, but she would go on to become an acclaimed writer/director, including winning a Best Screenplay Oscar for 2003’s Lost in Translation.