Mario Puzo sent me a copy of The Godfather shortly after it was published, along with a note saying that if a movie was ever made from the book, he thought I should play Don Corleone, the head of the New York Mafia family he had written about. I read the note but wasn't interested. Alice Marchak remembers my throwing it away and saying "I'm not a Mafia godfather". I had never played an Italian before and I didn't think I could do it successfully. By then, I had learned that one of the biggest mistakes an actor can make is to try to play a role for which he is miscast. But Alice took the book home, read it and said she thought I should take the part if it was offered me. She didn't change my mind, though I did call Mario without having read the book and thanked him for his note. Mario, who had sold the film rights to Paramount, began writing a screenplay based on the book and called me from time to time and encouraged me to reconsider... When Mario sent me the finished screenplay, I read both it and the book and liked them. By then, Francis Coppola had signed on as director and was beginning to rewrite portions of Mario's script. He also said that he wanted me to play the part and suggest that I audition for it to convince the executives at Paramount. I went home and did some rehearsing to satisfy my curiosity about whether I could play an Italian. I put on some make-up, stuffed Kleenex in my cheeks, and worked out the characterization first in front of a mirror, then on a television monitor. After working on it, I decided I could create a characterization that would support the story. The people at Paramount saw the footage and liked it and that's how I became the Godfather.