When Dan Fogler’s second daughter was about to be born, the Broadway and film actor says he asked “the universe for a career miracle” to send him steady work in the way of a popular franchise.
Soon after, the accomplished character actor, comedian, graphic novelist, and Broadway star was hired for two franchises: The Fantastic Beasts films and the upcoming miniseries, The Offer, about the making of The Godfather.
The Offer also stars Miles Teller, Matthew Goode, Juno Temple, Patrick Gallo, Colin Hanks, and Giovanni Ribisi. The 10-part miniseries is a biographic drama about the development and production of The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola’s landmark gangster film, considered one of the greatest movies ever made.
His acting credits include Good Luck Chuck, Horton Hears A Who!, Kung Fu Panda, and TV’s The Goldbergs, Hannibal, The Good Wife, American Dad, and Secrets & Lies.
Today, the Tony-Award-winning actor for the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (in 2005) is in career heaven and is enjoying every moment of the magic in the extraordinary stories he is invited to tell.
Being selected for these pivotal film roles has had a tremendous impact on this actor who also lost 100 pounds to improve his health and longevity as a gift to himself and his family.
In Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Fogler reprises his role as baker Jacob Kowalski, who joins with Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), and a team of wizards and witches to put a stop to the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen).
In the epic and masterful film from Warner Bros., Grindelwald is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. They soon encounter an array of old and new beasts as they clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers.
The Offer tells the chaotic tale behind the beloved American classic film The Godfather, which faced so many obstacles it is a miracle that the movie was ever made. Fifty years after the theater release of The Godfather, The Offer provides many juicy details about making the Oscar-winning movie, including threats from mob boss Joe Columbo (Giovanni Ribisi). Once film director Francis Ford Coppola signed on to make The Godfather he was willing to do everything to make it happen, including co-authoring the screenplay with novelist Mario Puzo.
“Being in The Offer has instilled in me, a tremendous amount of confidence that they would give me the reins to try to portray this character,” Fogler exclusively tells Monsters and Critics. “To have the responsibility to play [famed director] Francis Ford Coppola was just huge. “And to have people who were close to him say, ‘Wow, you’re doing a good job,’ was also another boost of confidence.”
Read on for more of Dan Fogler’s take on The Godfather, his heavenly career, and playing with Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, and fantastic creatures.
Wow, two colossal projects (The Offer and Fantastic Beasts 3) back-to-back. Is your head spinning?
Dan Fogler: A little bit. Yeah, there’s a lot of press, a lot of press going on. But it feels good to be busy and to be involved with these lovely franchises. I asked for it. I manifested it. I better like it.
What kind of research did you do on Francis Ford Coppola, the famed director who we’ve all appreciated and loved for decades?
I’ve kind of been researching this my whole life because at an early age I got into Hearts of Darkness and I really got an appreciation for the type of human being that it takes to make something, an odyssey like that, and get it done. It gave me huge respect for Coppola and his method and his passion for making movies outside of the studio system, just doing it his way.
What is it that makes him such a compelling character to play such a phenomenal director?
I love that at the very heart of it he comes from theater and that you see that that’s where the real joy comes from when he’s talking to actors like Hopper in Hearts of Darkness. He really just loves just being with the actors. I understood that at a pretty young age like, oh, that’s why that guy’s doing it because he just loves this. He could be in a black box theater at that moment. He just loves finding these performances, that’s what he does it for.
Did you envision yourself playing Coppola early on?
No, but then when I got an opportunity to do this, of course, I’m going to do it. That’s what I thought would come to me first if I was going to be playing a living person like playing someone like John Belushi. I wouldn’t say that I would be the first choice. I was like, ‘Really, Francis?’ But then in doing the audition I realized, ‘Wow, I do, I kind of look like him. I kind of sound like him. He almost sounds like my father in a lot of ways. I just felt very close to him in understanding where he was in his life.
What else informed this role for you?
I saw The Making of The Rain People by George Lucas and that was a real spotlight on the time right before he was about to do The Godfather. To see him without his beard, he just looked like a kid. That was really helpful to portray Francis to the point where he is turning into the confident director that we all know and love. It’s like we’re seeing him before that. We’re seeing him find that confidence and that was really a joy to play.
What effect did doing The Offer have on you personally and professionally?
A couple of years back before Fantastic Beasts I needed a miracle in my career. My second daughter was coming into the world and I wished on a star. I was like, ‘I need to be part of a classy franchise.’ I didn’t know, I just knew that there were a lot of franchises out there that I could have been a part of. A month later I got Fantastic Beasts, and now I’m part of this. I think the window was still open for the wish because to be connected to this incredibly classy trilogy, I literally thank my lucky stars continuously that I’m able to be involved.
Talk about persistence in your life. One of the themes that I got, the resilience, the persistence, like no matter what came across their paths, whether they were being shot at or threatened, they were going to make this movie. Where does that kind of persistence come from?
Yeah, I don’t know if they make people like that anymore. People who are just so hungry and driven to make a mark and to prove themselves, and they just won’t take no for an answer. And that’s where you apply that pressure and then sometimes you really do create a diamond, like [The Godfather producer] Al Ruddy was one of these guys that were trying to prove himself. He really wanted to make a name for himself as a producer. Bob Evans was really trying to make a name for himself as the head of Paramount in his producorial debut, and he comes up. And from that pressure of having to step up he comes up with some of the– Love Story, Chinatown, The Godfather, comes up with some of the greatest movies of our lifetime.
In that pressurized moment, we have to step up. Everyone had to step up. Francis had to step up. Pacino had to step up. Brando had to step up again. The alchemy of all of those hungry people wanting to make a mark, yeah, I don’t know if they make people like that anymore. The passion and the fortitude that you have to see that through. Like there was no other person for Francis. He was like, ‘It has to be Pacino. It has to be Brando.’ These were the kind of people that just didn’t take no for an answer, and I think that’s the only kind of way that this was going to get made. There were so many people that were against it that it’s a miracle that it’s out there. It’s a miracle it’s everyone’s favorite movie.
What did The Godfather mean to you before The Offer?
The Godfather was this masterclass basically, part one and part two. That when I was a freshman in high school I rented those two movies, and the ensemble that they put together. I mean, just between Brando, De Niro, Pacino, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, just their body of work, that’s where I started. I just reverse-engineered everything. I was like, whoa, Brando. Just watched everything he did. Just watched everything Pacino did, everything De Niro did. Just watched everything Coppola did. That was the catalyst, that was the starting point for when I really started to study actors.
When we first see Jacob in the Fantastic Beasts film, it’s clear that he and his bakery are fallen on hard times. Can you talk about where he is at the start of this movie?
Yes, he kind of reflects the times in a lot of ways. It’s like we’re heading into the Great Depression and he’s extremely down on his luck and it seems like he’s just in this constant state of loss. Like he’s lost his love, he’s lost his appetite, he’s losing his bakery, he’s losing his mind. So that’s where you see him. He’s very sad when you first see him. But he still holds that glimmer of hope that Queenie’s going to come back. He’s hallucinating and then Lalie comes and offers him a chance to come back and join the adventure again. Yeah, and he does it all for his love, that’s his whole motivation.
A muggle being given a wand is something that you do not ever see. Can you talk us through how you felt playing Jacob’s emotions when he received it? It was a huge moment.
For two movies, I watched everyone get a wand and they go to their training sessions. I always was wondering maybe one day they’ll let me. Maybe someone will drop one and I’ll be able to pick it up and give it back to them or something. I felt like it was an enormous honor to be handed this wand from Dumbledore, through Newt from Dumbledore. I just thought, there’s a lot of potential for some great comedy and action moments, which are in the film, with this muggle just trying to have the thing work, just trying to figure it out.
It was just great just having it, holding it, and putting it in my pocket. If you see Jacob, he was not given any training so he just holds it like a soldier would hold a gun or something. Yeah, it was just so cool. I felt like it’s like being in a Western and not having a gun, or being in Star Wars and not having a lightsaber. So it was very much like I was handed a lightsaber. For me, that’s huge!
How do you feel that your character has evolved since the last Fantastic Beasts movie?
I love Jacob’s arc. I love how he keeps on trying to get out but they keep pulling him back in. And I love how their relationship, it’s like how a relationship might go. Where you fall in love and it’s really fun and exciting at first, but then after you get to know each other maybe the grass is always greener. For Jacob the most important thing is Queenie. I love how their relationship makes for a good story. It can’t always be love and roses, you have some tension there. She gets pulled away and a huge part of the adventure is getting her back.
Lastly, why do you want my readers to watch The Offer?
I think if they’re fans of the movie, they’re going to see some incredible performances. Matthew Goode is Bob Evans. Juno Temple is a joy. Miles nails it. If you’re a fan of The Godfather you’re going to see these iconic moments, what went into creating them, and the drama behind them. And how these iconic moments almost never saw the light of day. I think people are going to get a real appreciation for the movie afterward.
The Offer, a new miniseries, premieres on Paramount + on April 28.
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