He Helped Launch the Careers of Cruise, Nicholson, Ford

Francis Ford Coppola's longtime collaborator Fred Roos dead at 89
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 21, 2024 4:30 PM CDT
He Helped Launch the Careers of Cruise, Nicholson, Ford
Executive producer Fred Roos and writer/director Sofia Coppola pose at the US premiere of "The Beguiled" at Directors Guild of America on Monday, June 12, 2017, in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Steve Cohn/Invision for Focus Features/AP Images, File)

Fred Roos, the Oscar-winning producer of The Godfather Part II who helped launch the careers of numerous superstars from Jack Nicholson to Tom Cruise, has died. He was 89. He died at his home in Beverly Hills, California, on Saturday, a representative said Tuesday, just days after his and Francis Ford Coppola's latest film Megalopolis premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. "Fred Roos possessed a casting instinct that was near infallible," Coppola wrote on Instagram. "He was a great lifelong friend and collaborator with above all a true love for movies." More, from the AP:

  • Roos and Coppola worked together for over 50 years, starting with The Godfather, where he advised on the casting of Al Pacino and James Caan against the wishes of the studio, and introduced Coppola to John Cazale. He also produced Coppola's best picture nominees The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, and Parts II and III of The Godfather.

  • The stories about his impact on some of the biggest films of all time, from the Godfather trilogy to Star Wars, are the stuff of Hollywood legend. While developing Star Wars," George Lucas asked Roos for his thoughts. Lucas got the screenplay back from Roos with several names scribbled on it: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and James Earl Jones. Roos also helped assemble the young casts for Lucas' American Graffiti and The Outsiders, introducing wide audiences to the likes of Cruise, Ford, Diane Lane, Richard Dreyfuss, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon and Patrick Swayze.
  • "I always like to think that actors I put in my movie are going to become stars and we'll hear from again," he said in an interview about casting The Outsiders. Sometimes it took some convincing, like getting Ford in as Han Solo. In 2004, Ford said, "Once he believes in you, he is unrelenting. He kept putting me up for parts and I kept getting rejected. Finally things worked out."
  • Other Roos discoveries include Diane Keaton, Laurence Fishburne, Emilio Estevez, Jennifer Connelly, and Alden Ehrenreich.

  • Roos was born in Santa Monica, California, on May 22, 1934, and raised in Riverside and Los Angeles, where he attended high school at the famous Hollywood High. After graduating from UCLA in 1956, he was drafted and served two tours in Korea with the Army, one alongside Garry Marshall.
  • He long had a fascination with film, and got his foot in the door working in the mailroom at a talent agency, MCA, Inc, where one of his odd jobs was driving Marilyn Monroe around. Soon he was casting for television shows like The Andy Griffith Show and That Girl. His film breakthrough came with Richard Lester's infidelity drama Petulia with Julie Christie and George C. Scott, which came out in 1968.
  • Roos is survived by his son, Alexander "Sandy" Roos, who was also his producing partner, and his wife, Nancy Drew. "(He) was determined to never retire from the film business and to go with his boots on," his son said in a statement. "He got his wish."
(More obituary stories.)

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