Before They Were Stars: Robert De Niro Auditions to Play Sonny in “The Godfather”

It’s become a fun tradition here at The Back Row for me to do “Before They Were Stars” features on the Academy Award nominees shortly after they’ve been announced. Robert De Niro’s “Best Supporting Actor” nod for Silver Linings Playbook this year marks his first Oscar nomination in over 20 years as, for some reason, all those Fockers films he did never seemed to garner the attention of the Academy. Of course, De Niro won his first Oscar by playing a young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II, but while he was still relatively unknown, he actually auditioned to play the role of Sonny Corleone in the original Godfather. In this screen test, you can see elements of De Niro’s eventual star-making turn as Johnny Boy in Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets and given how things eventually turned out, not getting the part here turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

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