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Al Pacino Hey! What are you looking at? You f*king ugly piece of horse sh*t! Me? You looking at me? Yeah! Get out of my face. Nobody - and I mean nobody - can look at me in the way you are doing at the moment. Got it? Well, except for maybe my beard friend, James Lipton, as seen on this 90 minute interview I had with him in 2006. So go on. Scram or click you creep.

Al Pacino

In this episode of ‘Inside the Actors Studio’, the man with the blue-cards, James Lipton, has the privilege of interviewing one of this institutions president’s, Al Pacino, in front of a class of prospective honor graduates.

Now in a somewhat timid fashion, Al start’s off this interview by recounting his own origins. For example: (1) How he felt about his parent’s early divorce. (2) His shyness at home, whilst living with his grandparents. (3) His love for the cinema. And (4) His passion for the stage. Which was a yearning that goaded Al to endure many hardships as a budding young thespian, until he eventually made his way into the Actors Studio.

At first, Al was somewhat hesitant in taking part in the Studio program. However, with a lot of encouragement from his friends, he made this place of learning into his home – literary. Thus cementing the foundations which drove him to a number of minor roles in the theater.

Over time, as his reputation as an actor grew and grew, Al was fortunate enough to swap the boards for the camera, care of such film projects as 'Me. Natalie', 'The Panic in Needle Park', and 'The Godfather'. In fact Al speaks quite a lot of him time performing in all of the Godfather movies. From his shaky beginnings with Paramount, right up to the ill received final chapter.

Next, Al talks about his time with famed film director, Sidney Lumet, and the two films that he made with him, 'Serpico' and 'Dog Day Afternoon'. It appears that Sidney really worked Al hard on these two projects, which fortunately gave him the hard-line work ethic he needed to make 'Scarface'.

From ‘Scarface’ on-wards, Al run’s through all of his other film highlights –
  • Dick Tracy - 'They encouraged me to do all types of things with that part'. 
  • Scent of a Woman - 'I had no bother with this role. It was a great role'. 
  • Glengarry Glenn Ross - 'My Oscar was touching her... err... you know'. 
  • Heat - 'Robert was very cleaver about that'. 
  • The Devils Advocate - 'Mike was so smart that he made me feel smart'.
This brings Al to his latter film work, where he surmises about shooting 'theater on film' in such developments as ‘Any Given Sunday’, ‘Chinese Coffee’, and ‘The Merchant of Venice’.

In closing, Al answers questions posed to him by James from the Bernard Pivot structured questionnaire, where we learn that he would have liked to have been a doctor, and that he likes the word f**k. Before he answers subsequent question’s posed to him by the students, stating that he likes directors who direct, and that all his creations come from within.

Alfonse James Pacino. My God. What a strange man. Now of course I do not mean this in a bad way by any means. Oh no. Rather, that I found that Al as a actor, is someone who can inhabit a character as if he was channeling some type of unknown force. Well, that is how he describes it anyway.

Other things that Al also describes, in his own Pacino-esque way, is how his path to stardom was a strange mixture of hardship and hope. Moreover, it was only really his own hope that he clung onto which gave him the perseverance to become a star. Unfortunately, this was no easy feet by any stretch of imagination. Living on the street. Working in menial jobs. Whilst acting at the same time. Must have been a hard life for young Alfonse.

Plus, I cannot help but pontificate upon what gave him the gumption to stick at it as long as he had? Al surmises jovially that by falling on his head at a young age did help. But by reading in-between his lines it does appear that his parental loss was most probably the case.

Al Pacino Inside The Actors Studio

Listen, I have to admit, I did like Al’s stance within this interview. Not seeming overly ‘showbiz’, and on occasion saying something that would throw James and the audience off kilter – like that his grandfather was born in Corleone in Sicily – or that he was a stand-up comedian in his younger days. I have to say that these statements did come across in a very strange way. Justifying my earlier ‘strange’ remark – as well as the way in which he describes his acting process – by funneling observations through his being, and him channeling out this ‘energy’ in his work.

Now the only other actor I heard say something like this, was Peter (Pink Panther) Sellers – which most probably says more about my nerdish movie knowledge than I care to admit. But could this metaphysical link be a valid one? Peter and Pacino? Maybe? Lets face it, they have both created filmic icons that will last a long-long time. Tony Montana. Inspector Clueso. Carlito Brigante. Blue Bottle. Michael Corleone. Doctor Strangelove. All of these creations somehow apart of both Al and Peter, yet not apart of them at the same time.

Al Pacino in Scarface

Still, back to only Al. I did find that his interview with James (I have a better beard than Pacino) Lipton, did bring out a side of Al that is engaging, thought provoking, and meaningful to who he is. It was as if Al had a need within him to say what he said, bestowing his responses with a sort of therapeutic slant. I am sure that certain actors love appearing on this type of a program, because it gives them the platform to be who they are and explain why they did what they did. Though I am sure that the reverse side of this statement is just as truthful. Right?

Overall this was just a great interview to digest. It's one of those programs you can just sit back, relax, and just enjoy what is being said, even more than watching a movie. I was very happy about how James really steered this tete-a-tete in the direction he wanted it too. As if he was directing Al in this live show just like a director would direct Al in a film. Inadvertently this does go to show that Al is a very amenably chap, and that he is able to conform to what is thrown at him. Like his life I suppose.

Well done James, I’d give you a kiss, but I am afraid that your beard might attack me.


JAMES LIPTON WITH AL PACINO JAMES LIPTON WITH AL PACINO Reviewed by David Andrews on March 08, 2011 Rating: 5
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