You know the story. Someone tells you the great news that they're expecting, and the even better news that they want you to be the Godfather. Your natural response is to look the part.

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But how? cotton balls seem too soft, moth balls are probably not the best thing to use. Marbles? How would they stay put while you talk?

  • Dick Smith had dental attachments to his teeth, for the actual filming. Little round metal balls...
    – user29024
    Dec 22, 2015 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


Marlon Brando used cottonballs so I'd suggest that they're not too soft. I think it was shown in Hearts of Darkness and mentioned on The Godfather commentary which are hard to link to for obvious reasons.

From The Godfather wikia:

Brando's performance as Vito Corleone in 1972's The Godfather was a mid-career turning point. Director Francis Ford Coppola convinced Brando to submit to a "make-up" test, in which Brando did his own makeup (he used cotton balls to simulate the puffed-cheek look).

I've personally tried it, and it takes some getting used to, but with a little practice you can get the cotton to stay in place. Brando's slow, methodical drawl may be because he was working with this handicap. Perhaps cotton balls deserve an honorary Oscar®.

It is also confirmed on the Wikipedia page for Brando.

Jaffe eventually set three conditions for the casting of Brando: That he would have to take a fee far below what he typically received; he'd have to agree to accept financial responsibility for any production delays his behavior cost; and he had to submit to a screen test. In order to skirt the humiliation of having Brando submit to a screen test, Coppola convinced Brando to a videotaped "make-up" test, in which Brando did his own makeup (he used cotton balls to simulate the puffed-cheek look). Coppola had feared Brando might be too young to play the Don but was electrified by the actor's characterization as the head of a crime family. Even so, he had to fight the studio in order to cast the temperamental actor. Brando had doubts himself, stating in his autobiography, "I had never played an Italian before, and I didn't think I could do it successfully." Eventually, Charles Bluhdorn, the president of Paramount parent Gulf+Western, was won over to letting Brando have the role; when he saw the screen test, he asked in amazement, "What are we watching? Who is this old guinea?"

  • 2
    Dentists use a small round cylindrical shaped piece of cotton (I believe it's cotton) to keep the cheek away from the gums. It's like a large cigarette filter, only clean and stays together. This is what I have seen them use in film making documentaries, and even (I thought) in the Godfather series to get this effect. Feb 1, 2014 at 14:20
  • 2
    Haha! I remember now where is aw it. Marlon Brando "sort of" reprised his role as the Godfather in a movie called The Freshmen. I saw an interview with him talking about the cylinder type cotton ball things to make his cheeks puff out in that movie. Feb 1, 2014 at 14:29
  • @Paulster2 is right, it's probably the dentist type cylindrical cotton, and not the regular store bought cotton balls, as those are entirely too soft.
    – MDMoore313
    May 14, 2014 at 14:57
  • The cotton was worn during the screen test, however Dental 'Plumpers' were used during the actual film. For novelty purposes though, cylindrical cotton balls will still work, and are probably far cheaper than plumpers, so this is still a proper answer. For the record, one can view them here.
    – MDMoore313
    May 14, 2014 at 15:02

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