Fred Roos, Casting Director and Coppola Collaborator, Dies at 89

Fred Roos, a casting director and producer who championed the early careers of A-list actors like Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson and Carrie Fisher, and whose long collaboration with Francis Ford Coppola and his family, stretching from “The Godfather” (1972) to this year’s “Megalopolis,” earned him an Oscar and an Emmy, died on Saturday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 89.

His death was announced by his family in a statement.

Many in Hollywood said that Mr. Roos had the best eye for talent in the business. He championed the young, relatively unknown Mr. Pacino for the role of Michael Corleone in “The Godfather” when the studio executives at Paramount wanted a better-known actor, like Robert Redford or Warren Beatty. And when his friend George Lucas was leaning toward Amy Irving for the role of Princess Leia in “Star Wars” (1977), Mr. Roos suggested he cast Carrie Fisher instead.

Mr. Lucas listened — after all, it was Mr. Roos who had assembled the cast for his breakout film, “American Graffiti,” in 1973, including then-unknown actors like Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfuss and Mackenzie Phillips. He later did something similar for Mr. Coppola’s 1983 adaptation of the novel “The Outsiders,” bringing together the future stars Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze.

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone and Talia Shire as his sister, Connie, in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather Part II.” Mr. Roos was a producer of the film, which won the best-picture Oscar in 1975.Credit…John Springer Collection/Corbis, via Getty Images
Harrison Ford and Linda Christensen in George Lucas’s “American Graffiti,” for which Mr. Roos assembled the cast.Credit…Screen Archives/Getty Images

Mr. Roos was particularly taken with Mr. Ford, whom he met while the young actor was doing carpentry work on his home. After getting him the uncredited role of Bob Falfa, a wisecracking drag racer, in “American Graffiti,” he cast him in small roles in Mr. Coppola’s films “The Conversation” (1974) and “Apocalypse Now” (1979).

But when he suggested Mr. Ford for the role of Han Solo in “Star Wars,” Mr. Lucas balked. He said he only wanted to cast actors he had never worked with.

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