While the first two Godfather films are considered timeless classics of cinema, the third entry, released in 1990, is widely considered a disappointment.
Sofia’s performance was described by critics as “flat, amateurish, and unconvincing”. The actor, who is now a successful filmmaker in her own right, had stepped in at the last minute to replace Winona Ryder in the role of Michael Corleone’s daughter, Mary.
Speaking about casting Sofia in the film, Francis told Vulture: “I asked her to come in, and she tested for it. She didn’t particularly want to do it. She was in school, but she did it.”
He added that many thought Annabella Sciorra should have been cast in the role, and that critics “came after Sofia so much that it was just like the story: the bullets that killed the daughter were really meant for the father”.
Francis said: “I felt that I did this to her. Of course, Sofia went on to have a wonderful career of her own, but it must have hurt her terribly to be told, ‘You ruined your father’s picture,’ when in fact, she hadn’t – in my opinion. At any rate, the whole subject of The Godfather III was painful for me.”
The filmmaker he said he thought the issue with the film was actually that “the story wasn’t clear or really interesting”.
In an interview with The Independent earlier this year, Sofia reflected on The Godfather: Part III, saying: “It’s hard for me to watch my 18-year-old self. So much time has passed but it’s just weird to see yourself with all that baby fat. It was strange to see… it’s almost like another person.”
A recently released new edit of the film, entitled Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, includes a different beginning and ending.
It was praised by star Diane Keaton, who said it made her see the poorly-received movie in “a completely different light”.