Nobody wanted to do 'Apocalypse Now': Francis Ford Coppola

 Director Francis Ford Coppola found himself on an impossible journey while making his 1979 war classic 'Apocalypse Now' as "nobody wanted to be a part of it."

PTI| Last Updated: Nov 21, 2014, 20:40 PM IST
Nobody wanted to do 'Apocalypse Now': Francis Ford Coppola

New Delhi: Director Francis Ford Coppola found himself on an impossible journey while making his 1979 war classic 'Apocalypse Now' as "nobody wanted to be a part of it."

The 75-year-old Oscar-winning director took a loan to make the Vietnam War era movie which was inspired by Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness.
 

Coppola wanted to cast Steve McQueen as Benjamin L Willard initially but the actor refused. Stars like Al Pacino, who had worked with the director in 'Godfather', Jack Nicholson and Robert Redford were approached but they all declined.

The role of Willard finally went to Martin Sheen while Kurtz was played by Marlon Brando.

Narrating the experience during Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here today, Coppola said he put everything he had on the movie.

"Making 'Apocalypse Now' was a horrendous experience. I had made 'Godfather' two-three years ago. But absolutely nobody wanted to be a part of this film. No actor wanted to do it and no one wanted to finance it. I just decided to do it anyway. I financed the movie by giving everything I had to the bank," Coppola told the audience.

The director said he was in his 30s, scared and lonely financially, which to some extent altered the film's narrative.

"The film was chaging as I was making it. It became much more surreal and ambiguous...," he added, saying eventually he had the last laugh when 'Apocalypse Now' became a classic.

"I ended up owning the film and it turned out to be a good thing. It is like an apartment house, fully rented for 50 years," Coppola said.

Talking about the deceptive nature of success, Coppola said he got his first Oscar for a script from which he was fired initially.

"When I was 23, I was asked to write about General Patton. I was young, had family and needed the job. They asked me whether I had military experience and I said yes. I had attended the military school but I ran away from it. I wrote the script but Burt Lancaster who was hired to play the role hated the opening scene, which is famous now. So, I got fired," the director recalled.

"It was an unusual script... They resurrected my script eventually when George C Scott came on board and I won an Oscar for it which saved me from getting fired from 'The Godfather'."
The director said, "you get lifetime achievement award for the things that got you fired in your youth."