Home News Oscar winner for ‘Godfather Part II,’ Coppola collaborator Fred Roos dies

Oscar winner for ‘Godfather Part II,’ Coppola collaborator Fred Roos dies


By Lindsey Bahr | Associated Press

Fred Roos, the Oscar-winning producer of “The Godfather Part II” who helped launch the careers of numerous superstars from Jack Nicholson to Tom Cruise, has died. He was 89.

He died at his home in Beverly Hills on Saturday, a representative said Tuesday, just days after his and Francis Ford Coppola’s latest film “Megalopolis” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Roos and Coppola worked together for over 50 years, starting with “The Godfather,” where he advised on the casting of Al Pacino and James Caan against the wishes of the studio, and introduced Coppola to John Cazale. He also produced Coppola’s best picture nominees “The Conversation,” “Apocalypse Now” and Parts II and III of “The Godfather.”

“Fred Roos possessed a casting instinct that was near infallible,” Coppola wrote on Instagram. “He was a great lifelong friend and collaborator with above all a true love for movies.”

The stories about his impact on some of the biggest films of all time, from the Godfather trilogy to “Star Wars,” are the stuff of Hollywood legend. While developing “Star Wars,” George Lucas asked Roos for his thoughts. Lucas got the screenplay back from Roos with several names scribbled on it: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and James Earl Jones. Roos also helped assemble the young casts for Lucas’ “American Graffiti” and “The Outsiders,” introducing wide audiences to the likes of Cruise, Ford, Diane Lane, Richard Dreyfuss, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon and Patrick Swayze.

“I always like to think that actors I put in my movie are going to become stars and we’ll hear from again,” he said in an interview about casting “The Outsiders.”

Sometimes it took some convincing, like getting Ford in as Han Solo. In 2004, Ford said, “Once he believes in you, he is unrelenting. He kept putting me up for parts and I kept getting rejected. Finally things worked out.”

Other Roos discoveries include Diane Keaton, Laurence Fishburne, Emilio Estevez, Jennifer Connelly and Alden Ehrenreich.

“It’s always kind of intangible. Just a feeling I have about somebody,” Roos said of his ability to spot talent in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2016. “A lot of people that I’ve been associated with are like that. Jack Nicholson. Harrison. They don’t quite fit any mold.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 03: (L-R) Producer Anahid Nazarian, writer/producer/director Francis Ford Coppola and producer Fred Roos pose at the premiere of
Roos, right, joins producer Anahid Nazarian, left, and director Francis Ford Coppola at a premiere in 2009 in Los Angeles. Roos and Coppola worked together for over 50 years starting with “The Godfather” and including best picture nominees “The Conversation” and “Apocalypse Now.” (Kevin Winter/Getty Images Archives)

Roos was born in Santa Monica on May 22, 1934, and raised in Riverside and Los Angeles, where he attended high school at the famous Hollywood High. After graduating from UCLA in 1956, he was drafted and served two tours in Korea with the Army, one alongside Garry Marshall.

He long had a fascination with film, and got his foot in the door working in the mailroom at a talent agency, MCA, Inc, where one of his odd jobs was driving Marilyn Monroe around. Soon he was casting for television shows like “The Andy Griffith Show” and “That Girl.”

His film breakthrough came with Richard Lester’s infidelity drama “Petulia” with Julie Christie and George C. Scott, which came out in 1968.

“Work just flowed to me after that,” Roos said.

That included work for the likes of John Huston (“Fat City”), Michelangelo Antonioni (“Zabriskie Point”), Monte Hellman (“Two-Lane Blacktop”) and Bob Rafelson (“Five Easy Pieces”).

Roos and Coppola would get two best picture nominations in the same year for “The Godfather Part II” and “The Conversation,” winning for the former. Other films he produced for Coppola included “One from the Heart,” “Rumble Fish,” “The Cotton Club,” “Tucker: The Man and His Dream” and “Tetro.”

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