The 1973 sports drama “Bang the Drum Slowly”, a film adaptation of the 1956 baseball novel of the same name by author Mark Harris, had actor Robert De Niro in one of his first big films that helped bring him widespread acclaim along with 1973’s “Mean Street”. He played the character Bruce Pearson in “Bang the Drum Slowly”.
Interesting to note, that role was originally to have been played by Al Pacino, while Robert De Niro was to have played the driver Paulie in 1972’s “The Godfather”. However, director Francis Ford Coppola wanted Pacino to play Michael Corleone, so to get Pacino released from his contract for this film, he had to give up De Niro to replace him.
De Niro would go on to play a young Vito Corleone in 1974’s “The Godfather Part II” though and win Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards. So…best trade De Niro was ever involved in.