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The 'Godfather' cast reunites 45 years later — hear why Al Pacino thought it would flop

TODAY's Matt Lauer talked to the cast of the groundbreaking film and learned the real stories behind cast rivalries and who thought the movie would tank!
/ Source: TODAY

In 1972, director Francis Ford Coppola made movie audiences an offer they could not refuse: "The Godfather" opened in theaters — and went on to change the face of moviemaking.

In addition to being a worldwide box office sensation, it won three Oscars and made a star out of Al Pacino, all while giving us unforgettable scenes and lines about betrayal and cannolis alike. (And its 1974 sequel, "The Godfather Part II," launched Robert De Niro into the stratosphere.)

RELATED: Robert De Niro's failed 'Godfather' audition refuses to sleep with the fishes

Now, 45 years later, we're still talking about this modern classic. TODAY's Matt Lauer sat down with cast members De Niro, Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall and Talia Shire ahead of a special celebration at the Tribeca Film Festival about the film's legacy — and learned not everyone had 100 percent confidence in its ability to score with audiences.

"It was a great script," said Pacino. "But ... at the time we were so young and inexperienced. We didn't know what filmmaking was, really."

THE GODFATHER, from left: Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, 1972
Al Pacino played the successor to his father's (Marlon Brando) mafia empire in "The Godfather."Courtesy Everett Collection / Courtesy Everett Collection

Yep, it was Pacino who had his doubts. He noted that he would be doing scenes and hearing "people snickering on the other end. You say, 'Well, this isn't going well.'"

Meanwhile, though Pacino and De Niro never had scenes together in "Part II," rumors of a rivalry between the two intense actors erupted. Just how legit was that, anyway?

"We've known each other a long time," said De Niro. "We were up for the same parts ... but not a rivalry."

THE GODFATHER: PART II, Robert De Niro, 1974
Robert De Niro playing a young Vito Corleone in "The Godfather Part II."Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection / Everett Col

"We sorta grew up together," said Pacino.

RELATED: Al Pacino: I thought 'Godfather' director was wrong to cast me at first

They sure did. Watch the video above to see the entire interview to hear even more great "Godfather" lore.

Following the cast reunion at the Tribeca Film Festival, Paramount will release all three films on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD May 9.

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