Editor’s Note: To coincide with our monthly Elements of Cinema series, we will periodically present essays discussing various aspects of filmmaking.
Jack Nicholson as Michael Corleone. Marilyn Monroe as Holly Golightly. Frank Sinatra as Dirty Harry. These three hypothetical scenarios demonstrate the complexities of casting an actor for a role. Nicholson was offered THE GODFATHER part, which eventually went to Al Pacino, but turned it down believing “Indians should play roles written for Indians and Italians should do the same” (Nicholson is of Irish descent). Truman Capote, author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, desperately lobbied for Monroe to play the iconic role of Holly Golightly. Monroe was cast but dropped out due to fear of the role of a flighty and loose call girl harming her image. Despite Audrey Hepburn’s image in the Black Givenchy dress, Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses and strands of Tiffany’s became iconic, she felt quite uncomfortable in Truman Capote’s presence, knowing he did not approve of her playing the part he intended for Monroe. And Frank Sinatra’s reasoning for not playing the part made famous by Clint Eastwood? A broken wrist he sustained from filming THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, which made it impossible for him to handle a gun properly.