You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Francis Ford Coppola Gives Emotional Tribute to Robert Evans: ‘May the Kid Always Stay in the Picture’

Francis Ford Coppola remembered his sometime-patron, collaborator and frenemy Robert Evans as a producer with “strong instincts” in an emotional tribute. Evans, the legendary producer and former head of Paramount Pictures, died on Saturday night at the age of 89. He played a crucial role in the creation of such film classics as “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown” and “Marathon Man.”

At Paramount, he plucked Coppola, then a rising young filmmaker, from semi-obscurity and tasked him with bringing Mario Puzo’s bestseller “The Godfather” to the screen. The two clashed frequently, but they created a beloved film that was also a box office success and Oscar winner. When they collaborated again on 1984’s “The Cotton Club,” it was not as star-crossed. That film was mired in lawsuits, budget over-runs, and competing creative visions. It became an infamous bomb that hurt both men’s careers. On Monday, however, Coppola chose to accentuate the positive aspects of their alliances.

“I remember Bob Evans’ charm, good looks, enthusiasm, style, and sense of humor,” he said. “He had strong instincts as evidenced by the long list of great films in his career. When I worked with Bob, some of his helpful ideas included suggesting John Marley as Woltz and Sterling Hayden as the Police Captain, and his ultimate realization that ‘The Godfather’ could be 2 hours and 45 minutes in length; also, making a movie out of ‘The Cotton Club’ — casting Richard Gere and Gregory Hines, and bringing Milena Canonero, George Faison, Richard Sylbert, and many other talented people to work on the film. May the kid always stay in the picture.”

Evans and Coppola’s relationship on “The Godfather” was tempestuous. The Paramount executive didn’t agree with Coppola’s decision to cast Al Pacino in the key role of Michael Corleone and reportedly worried that cinematographer Gordon Willis’ lighting was too murky. He did, however, claim that he encouraged Coppola to add a half hour to the film, believing his shorter version lacked the necessary texture. Coppola would later claim that Evans only later agreed to let him put back in scenes that he had previously ordered him to cut.

“Francis and I have a perfect record; we disagreed on everything,” Evans would later write in his memoir, “The Kid Stays in the Picture.”

“The Cotton Club” was more ill-fated. Evans had originally intended to direct the picture about a Harlem jazz club in the 1930s, but eventually opted to bury the hatchet and bring on Coppola, who needed money following the financial disaster of “One From the Heart.” The resulting film went wildly over budget and was a commercial and critical disappointment, with both men blaming the other for the escalating production costs. Coppola later spent $500,000 restoring the film to its original director’s cut.

More Film

  • Cats Movie

    'Cats' Producers Respond to Twitter Trailer Backlash

    The producers of “Cats” have seen the memes and read the mean tweets that greeted the first trailer for the big screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage smash. When the initial teaser was launched this past summer, social media commentators feasted on the way that an A-list cast that includes Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, [...]

  • Carol Titleman dead

    Lucasfilm Exec Carol Titelman Dies at 73

    Carol Wikarska Titelman, director of publications during the early days of Lucasfilm, died on Dec. 7 in her New York apartment. She was 73. Titelman died following complications with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a statement released on her behalf. Titelman began her career at Lucasfilm answering phones in the months before “Star Wars: Episode IV [...]

  • SHAZAM

    'Shazam! 2' Gets Release Date as 'Sesame Street' Live-Action Film Moves to 2022

    Warner Bros. has moved back its live-action “Sesame Street” movie six months to Jan 15, 2022, and set an April 1, 2022, release date for its “Shazam! 2” sequel. “Portlandia” director and co-creator Jonathan Krisel will helm the “Sesame Street” musical, co-financed by Warner Bros. and MGM. Shawn Levy is producing with Michael Aguilar. Mike Rosolio [...]

  • Uncut Gems

    Listen: Adam Sandler Wore $400,000 Worth of Diamonds and Gold in 'Uncut Gems'

    Adam Sandler may not have received a Golden Globe or SAG Awards nomination for his work in “Uncut Gems,” but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a shot at the Oscars. It will be a tough road to get there, but despite some snubs, the National Board of Review named Sandler the year’s best actor [...]

  • Chinonye Chukwu Clemency

    Chinonye Chukwu on Golden Globes of Female Directors Shutout

    “Clemency” writer-director Chinonye Chukwu is weighing in on the HFPA’s failure to nominated a female director for the 2020 Golden Globes. “It’s part of the systemic oppressions that we’re all apart of and that’s internalized in many,” Chukwu told Variety in response to Monday morning’s announcement. “We need to get people in positions of power who [...]

  • Brad Pitt Dede Gardner Jeremy Kleiner

    Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner to Receive Producers Guild Honor

    The Producers Guild of America will honor Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner of Plan B with the David O. Selznick Achievement Award. They will accept the honor at the 31st Annual Producers Guild Awards on Jan. 18 at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. Previous recipients include Steven Spielberg, Barbara Broccoli, Saul Zaentz, [...]

  • Little Women BTS

    Golden Globes' Snub of Women Directors Has Depressing Implications (Column)

    It was a schizophrenic, bad news, good news kind of week for women in Hollywood. To quote Natalie Portman at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards ceremony, “And here are all the male nominees.” Yep, once again, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. failed to nominate any female directors, as we disappointingly learned when the contenders for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content