[Warning: This story contains spoilers for The Offer episode “The Right Shade of Yellow.”]
Giovanni Ribisi knew the role was going to be a challenge – and that’s why he agreed to be part of the project.
Actor of (Essentially) Lifetime Plays Mafia Boss Joseph “Joe” Colombo in Paramount+ Miniseries The offerwhich explores the wild tales behind the making of The Godfather.
To better understand the notorious criminal, who created the Italian-American Civil Rights League and used its power to truly alter The Godfather script, Ribisi consumed as many written materials about the man as he could find. The actor also notes with a laugh The Hollywood Reporter he consumed additional meals to put on 45 pounds for the role.
In the same chat, Ribisi explained why he’s grateful the series provides a vivid, albeit dramatic, insight into what a film producer does, as he frequently receives the question.
How did you get involved in The offer? What spoke to you about this project in particular?
I had the meeting at the standard rate with [executive producer and] director Dexter Fletcher, and we started talking about Joe Colombo. And you know, it was a little intimidating, to say the least, just because I’ve never felt so remote from anything I’ve ever approached. But you know, I was up for the challenge.
What were your thoughts on the Godfather beforehand, and did this project change your vision of the film or the industry?
There are movies before The Godfather, and there are movies after. I was born in 1974, so the second one was already out. It was already an institution. It changed the genre, and also the cinema. It was so progressive and on every level; if you were in film, then this is the movie for you, or if you were in directing, this is the movie you watched. If you were in the game – well, needless to say, it doesn’t get any better than that, in my book.
And then there’s the understanding of what it took to do something of this magnitude. What’s interesting about this specific project is that it’s about what a film producer does. People often ask me: “What does a film producer do? And there really is no simple, specific answer. They make a movie, and that means anything and everything measured or limited by their own desire to see it through to the end. Producers solve problems and take those problems away from creative individuals. It’s about getting all the parts together and getting those parts to do their job and deliver it within a limited budget. It’s such a complex job, and its description encompasses literally anything and everything.
Tell me about your research and your transformation to become Joe Colombo. What did it take to get there, both mentally and physically?
Anything and everything I could find to read. There is a wonderful book by Don Capria and Colombo’s son [Colombo: The Unsolved Murder]. As for the physique, I gained about 45 lbs. Honestly, the biggest challenge for me was the voice. I didn’t want it to be a caricature. And then I shaved my head every other day for the hairpiece. (Laughs.)
The offer is all about huge obstacles The Godfather overcome. Can you share the big hurdles you had to overcome during the production of a previous film?
This series was quite difficult. I mean, maybe it’s just because it’s so close in my memory. But you know, every movie has challenges, and I don’t mean to sound flippant when I say that, but it’s really true. I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years, and they’re all like this. And you know, it’s one of my favorite things about making movies.
Actors involved in other Mafia movies and TV shows said they were contacted by people Actually related to grades or grievances. Did you hear anything?
(Laughs.) No, I didn’t hear anything.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
The offer airs Thursday on Paramount+.