Fred Roos, the Oscar-winning producer of The Godfather Part II and longtime collaborator of Francis Ford Coppola, died on Saturday, just days after his and Coppola's latest film, Megalopolis, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Roos was 89.

"Fred Roos possessed a casting instinct that was near infallible: so beautifully demonstrated in American Graffiti and The Outsiders," Coppola wrote on social media following news of Roos' passing. "He was a great lifelong friend and collaborator with, above all, a true love for movies... He was a unique talent and will certainly be missed."

Born in Santa Monica, California, on May 22, 1934, Roos attended film school at UCLA before breaking into television as a casting director, most notably on The Andy Griffith Show. He moved into film with 1970's Five Easy Pieces, for which Jack Nicholson, whom Roos had previously cast on The Andy Griffith Show, received his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

The trajectory of Roos' career was forever changed when he collaborated with Coppola on 1972's The Godfather, helping the filmmaker assemble an iconic cast comprising Marlon Brando, James Caan, Robert Duvall and Al Pacino (all of whom were Oscar-nominated for their performances, with Brando winning the Oscar for Best Actor). With 1974's The Conversation, Roos began producing Coppola's films too, which continued with The Godfather Part II that same year. Both The Conversation and The Godfather Part II were nominated for Best Picture; when The Godfather Part II won the Oscar, Roos shared the win with Coppola and Gray Frederickson.

"There were 127 actors and actresses in Godfather Part II," Roos said onstage at the 47th Oscars, "and they all deserve to share in this honor."


Roos would have a hand in every single one of Coppola's films moving forward, including 1979's Apocalypse Now (for which he earned his second Oscar nomination for Best Picture) and 1983's The Outsiders, which helped launch the careers of Tom Cruise, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon and Patrick Swayze. (Roos was also a producer on One From the Heart, Rumble Fish, The Cotton Club, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, The Godfather Part III, Youth Without Youth, and Tetro.)

"Saddened to hear of the passing of Fred Roos," Lowe wrote on social media. "Every movie lover should know his name. He was a casting genius and responsible for the careers of: Harrison Ford, Al Pacino, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, Laurence Fishburne, Tom Cruise and the rest of The Outsiders cast (including me), and many others. Thank you, Fred and godspeed."

His collaborations continued with other members of the Coppola family. Roos produced Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, Coppola's late wife Eleanor's Emmy-winning documentary about the tumultuous production of Apocalypse Now. When Sofia Coppola began her own filmmaker career, Roos offered his casting advice and served as an executive producer on all of her films, including the Oscar-winning Lost in Translation.

Outside of producing, Roos was also famous for his eye for talent. "There's no doubt in my mind that Fred is one of the great casting talents in the last 40 years of American movies," Coppola previously said. "He suggested and brought me people I would never have met." In 1988, Roos was with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Casting Society of America; he is credited for helping to introduce audiences to such stars as Nicholson, Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Laurence Fishburne, and Carrie Fisher.

Fred Roos, Harrison Ford and Joan Allen during 'A Tribute to Fred Roos' at the 31st Telluride Film Festival.

Perhaps most famously, Harrison Ford was working as a carpenter when Roos met him and subsequently encouraged Coppola's mentee, George Lucas, to cast the struggling actor as drag racer Bob Falfa in 1973's American Graffiti. (Coppola himself would later put Ford in The Conversation.) Roos then convinced Lucas to consider Ford for the role of Han Solo in 1977's Star Wars.

"I had already brought him to George's attention in American Graffiti," Roos told Entertainment Weekly in 2016. "Even though he was terrific, it was all night shooting and he'd only worked maybe 10 days on the whole movie. George hadn't really gotten to know him… I was, from the get-go, pushing him for Han Solo. 'George, you saw him right under your nose in American Graffiti.' And finally it clicked with George. Other people were considered, but finally I won the day with George on that one."

In 2004, Ford said of his champion: "Fred is a very loyal man. Once he believes in you, he is unrelenting. He kept putting me up for parts and I kept getting rejected. Finally things worked out."

Roos' final collaboration with Coppola is the director's decades-in-the-making passion project, the sci-fi epic Megapolis, starring Adam Driver, Giancarlo Esposito, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Aubrey Plaza. Roos is an executive producer on the film, which premiered in competition during the 77th Cannes Film Festival.

"[He] was determined to never retire from the film business and to go with his boots on," Roos' son and producing partner Alexander "Sandy" Roos said in a statement. "He got his wish."

Roos is survived by his wife, Nancy Drew, and his son.


'Megalopolis' Trailer: Adam Driver Stars in Francis Ford Coppola's Epic Passion Project

Inside the Academy Museum's 'The Art of Moviemaking: The Godfather' Exhibition (Exclusive)

Roger Corman, Prolific Producer and Honorary Oscar Winner, Dies at 98