Home | AL PACINO: ONE NIGHT ONLY | AFI Lifetime Achievement Award | Internazionale del Film di Roma's Marc Aurelio Acting Award | The Oxford Prize Award | Salome Seduces Los Angeles in 2006! | A Voice From Within | Biography | Inside Al (Just a Little) | Playography | Filmography | Al's Future Features | The Method | ..."Speaking of Al Pacino" | "The Right Words at the Right Time" | American Cinematheque Award
Inside Al (Just a Little)


The first in a series of five, Empire Magazine celebrates the living acting legends you voted for.  First up, the method man for all seasons...


“He is completely incapable of doing anything fake.”

Pacino by his peers…


“Scarface was my first demanding role and I was so terrified.  The two of us in a room together was a disaster.  He was much more introverted and much less accessible [then].  I tell him things he did and he can’t believe it.  He says, “I did not do that.”  I say, “Yes you did.  And then you said this…” Scarface co-star Michelle Pfeiffer


“Women love him, men love him.  He’s not very competitive with other men.  He has a very strong code about that.  He’s truly a gentleman.”

First acting coach Charlie Laughton


“It was take 11.  There were some harmonics and nuances that were almost impossible to describe…The interplay is like two master musicians playing a duet.”

Heat director Michael Mann


“He’s a little tiny man.  He’s just a shrimp, let’s kick his ass.  No, I like working with Al.  Al’s a good man.  I love the blond hair.  You like that?”

Insomnia co-star Robin Williams


“Meeting Al Pacino is terrifying.  But he puts you at your ease because he knows its terrifying – he’s been dealing with that for a long time."

Insomnia director Christopher Nolan


“He was serious about the work – I’ve never seen focus like it – but he was a funny bastard as well!  He was so smart and so intelligent, just really good company to be around, you know?”

The Recruit co-star Colin Farrell


“There’s no doubt that, by the end of Godfather II, Michael Corleone, having beaten everyone, is sitting there alone, a living corpse.  There’s no way that man will ever change.  I admit I considered some upbeat touch at the end, but honesty – and Pacino – wouldn’t let me do it.”

The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola


Horizontal Divider 7

Looking for Richard, Pacino’s love letter to the depths of Shakespeare may look like the actor’s first foray behind the camera, but a little digging reveals he has directed two films previously that have never seen the light of day.   Immediately following the failure of Revolution, Pacino financed a 56-minute film version of The Local Stigmatic, a play by Heathcote Williams that Pacino had headlined in 1969.  Introduced to American audiences by Harold Pinter, the piece centered on Graham, a vicious greyhound-track bookie who arranges the brutal beating of an elderly actor for no other reason than the actor’s notoriety.  “Fame is the first disgrace,” rants Graham, “because God knows who you are,” a line that echoes Pacino’s attitude towards his own celebrity.  Co-directed by David Wheeler, who had staged a revival of the play in the mid-‘70’s, The Local Stigmatic was really Pacino’s baby, who spent the next few years chopping and changing the work, refining it in a process akin to theatrical rehearsal.  In 1991, screenings at Harvard and the Museum of Modern Art saw the film make its public bow, yet Pacino declared it still needed more work.    It is still gathering dust in Al’s attic.  “It was experimentation,” is the Pacino verdict on The Local Stigmatic, “an interesting way of learning more about making movies.  You know, it surprised me that you could have been making films for 20 years and still not really understand the mechanics until you make your own.”  Post-Looking for Richard, Pacino embarked on another cinematic retread of a stage play.  Based on a play by Ira Lewis, Chinese Coffee sees two struggling Greenwich Village creative types (Pacino and Jerry Orbach) discuss love, life and their own friendship into the wee small hours.  A kind of shouty version of My Dinner with Andre, Chinese Coffee screened at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals to strong notices.  The film is still awaiting anything like a proper exhibition.   “I have worked with many great film directors and seen that there is a level of filmmaking that I can never get to so I don’t even bother,” says Pacino, justifying his hardly full-on filmmaking appetite.  “I just enjoy engaging in film as an amateur.  I don’t have the pressure of having to deliver.  I am off the hook.”

 *Written by Ian Freer, Empire Magazine, July 2004.

Horizontal Divider 7

The World According to Al:

Life Lessons



On agents....

"There was a period when I didn't have an agent and I called William Morris.  I said, "I'm looking for an agent.'  The receptionist said, 'What's your name?'  I said, 'Al Pacino.'  She said, 'Are you sure?'"

On switching off...

"My problem is I identify with all characters - characters I don't play and characters in real life.  I guess that's what all actors have the tendency to do."

On being single...

"Why have I never proposed in the past?  I hate to say this, but marriage is a state of mind, not a contract.  When I think about the law and marriage, I ask myself, “When did the cops get involved?"

On himself...

"I'm really a fun-loving depressive."

On walking...

"I used to be one of the great walkers.  That's over now.  I'm visible.  I get spotted.  I used to like getting into a kind of walking trance.  All that up in front of me and around me, all the different kinds of people and characters that I could soak up...I mean people are polite and gentle with me; it's just that you are constantly confronted and reminded of what you do."

On why Michael kills Fredo in Godfather II...

"I guess there are reasons why Michael did it.  If I go back and think about it now, they have something to do with maintaining a certain sanity, because if Fredo was allowed to live, then that would have discredited everything that happened before.  That's the insanity."

On Italian-American actors...

"We seriously thought of changing our names because at that time it was unthinkable to have a vowel at the end of your name and want to be an actor."

On valuing his talent...

"An actor with too much money will usually find a way to get rid of it.  I poured my own money into my own film, The Local Stigmatic, which I never released.  I did some plays.  All of a sudden the years passed and suddenly I owed some back taxes and the mortgage was due and I was broke.  But you know what really hit me?  I was walking through Central Park and this guy comes up to me - didn't know him at all - and he says, 'Hey, what happened to you?  We don't see you, man' I said, 'Well, I...uh...uh..' and he said, 'C'mon Al, I want to see you up there.'  And I recognized that I was lucky to have what I've been give.  You gotta use it."

On happiness...

"Happiness is a word...I don't know...It's a dangerous word.  Maybe it's having a sense of...bringing a life to something.

On rage…

“Rage is in all of us.  The actor has access to it simply because he is an emotional athlete.  It’s endemic.”

On modern movies…

It’s not a question of them being less good.  I think it’s a question of them being different.  Somehow journalism, television, the media have taken up a lot of issues and expressed them, while film is becoming more esoteric and fantastical.  When you think of “Dog Day Afternoon,” that was the first time that you were seeing the media deal with a real life situation, where this guy’s robbing a bank and it’s being televised.  Now something like that is run of the mill.”

*The above excerpts are from the July 2004 Empire Magazine (empireonline.co.uk)