It's one of Hollywood's biggest what ifs: What if Robert De Niro had played the part of Sonny in the original "Godfather" movie? At the time, De Niro was a total unknown, which helps explain why the studio forced director Francis Ford Coppola to pick James Caan for the role of Vito Corleone's hotheaded number one son. But what would "The Godfather" have been like if De Niro had played the part instead? Nobody knows.
Until now, that is. The folks over at Movies.com have unearthed a YouTube clip of Robert De Niro's original "Godfather" audition -- and now you can see for yourself one of the pivotal lost moments in cinematic history. Pretty badass.
Not that De Niro's career really suffered as a result of Caan getting the gig; as a result of being passed over, De Niro was free to star in Martin Scorsese's breakout film "Mean Streets," which paved the way for the two to make some of the greatest movies of all time. And of course De Niro did later play the younger Vito Corleone himself in "The Godfather: Part II," a role that earned him his first Oscar win. So it all worked out int he end.