Alfredo James "Al" Pacino (born April 25, 1940) is an American film and stage actor and director. He is best known for his roles as Michael Corleone in The Godfather trilogy, Sonny Wortzik in Dog Day Afternoon, Tony Montana in Scarface, Carlito Brigante in the 1993 film Carlito's Way, Frank Serpico in Serpico, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman, Lt. Vincent Hanna in Heat, and Roy Cohn in Angels in America. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1992 for his role in Scent of a Woman after receiving seven previous nominations.
Early life and education
Pacino was born in East Harlem, Manhattan, the son of Italian-American parents Rose (née Gerardi) and Salvatore Alfred Pacino, who divorced when he was two years old. His mother subsequently moved to the South Bronx, to live with her parents, Kate and James Gerardi, who originated from Corleone, Sicily. His father moved to Covina, California, working as an insurance salesman and owner of a restaurant called Pacino's Lounge, which closed in 1992. Pacino attended a school officially named High School of Performing Arts, a division of the Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music and the Arts in New York City, the main school of which was attended by Godfather II costarRobert De Niro. Pacino flunked nearly all of his classes except English and dropped out of school at the age of 17. His mother disagreed with his decision; they had an argument and he left home. He worked at a string of low-paying jobs, including messenger boy, busboy, janitor and postal clerk, in order to finance his acting studies.
He acted in basement plays in New York's theatrical underground, and then joined the Herbert Berghof Studio (HB Studio), where he met acting teacher Charlie Laughton, who became his mentor and best friend. During this period, he was frequently unemployed and homeless, and sometimes had to sleep on the street, in theaters or at friends' houses. In 1962, his mother died at age 43. The following year, his grandfather, James Gerardi, one of the most influential people in his life, also died.
In 1966, after many previous unsuccessful attempts, he auditioned at The Actors Studio and got accepted. He studied under legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg (who later co-starred with Pacino in the 1974 film The Godfather Part II). During later interviews he spoke about Strasberg and the Studio's effect on his career:
The Actors Studio meant so much to me in my life. Lee Strasberg hasn’t been given the credit he deserves. . . . Next to Charlie, it sort of launched me. It really did. That was a remarkable turning point in my life. It was directly responsible for getting me to quit all those jobs and just stay acting."
During another interview he added, "It was exciting to work for him [Lee Strasberg] because he was so interesting when he talked about a scene or talked about people. One would just want to hear him talk, because things he would say, you’d never heard before... He had such a great understanding... he loved actors so much.
As of 2009 Pacino is co-president, along with Ellen Burstyn and Harvey Keitel, of the Actors Studio.
Pacino found acting to be enjoyable and realized he had a gift for it. However, it did put him in financial straits until the end of the decade. In 1967, Pacino spent a season at the Charles Playhouse in Boston, performing in Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing! (his first major paycheck: $125 a week); and in Jean-Claude Van Itallie's America, Hurrah, where he met actress Jill Clayburgh while working on this play. They went on to have a five-year romance. At the end of 1967, they moved together back to New York City.
In 1968, Pacino starred in Israel Horovitz's The Indian Wants the Bronx at the Astor Place Theater, playing Murph, a street punk. The play opened January 17, 1968, and ran for 177 performances; it was staged in a double bill with Horovitz's It's Called the Sugar Plum, starring Clayburgh. Pacino won an Obie Award for Best Actor for his role, with John Cazale winning for Best Supporting actor and Horowitz for Best New Play. Martin Bregman saw the play and offered to be Pacino's manager, a partnership that became fruitful in the years to come.Pacino and this production of The Indian Wants the Bronx traveled to Italy for a performance at the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto. It was Pacino's first journey to Italy; he later recalled that "performing for an Italian audience was a marvelous experience".
Pacino and Clayburgh were cast in "Deadly Circle of Violence", an episode of the ABC television series N.Y.P.D., premiering November 12, 1968. Clayburgh at the time was also appearing on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow, playing the role of Grace Bolton. Her father would send the couple money each month to help.
On February 25, 1969, Pacino made his Broadway theatre debut in Don Petersen's Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie? at the Belasco Theater. It closed after 39 performances on March 29, 1969, but Pacino received rave reviews and won the Tony Award on April 20, 1969.
That same year he made his movie debut with a brief screen appearance in Me, Natalie, an independent film starring Patty Duke, released July 1969. In 1970, Pacino signed with the talent agency Creative Management Associates (CMA).
It was the 1971 film The Panic in Needle Park, in which he played a heroin addict, that would bring Pacino to the attention of director Francis Ford Coppola, who cast him as Michael Corleone in the blockbuster 1972 Mafia film The Godfather. Although several established actors, including Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, and a little-known Robert De Niro also wanted to portray Michael Corleone, Coppola selected the relatively unknown Pacino, much to the dismay of studio executives. Pacino's performance earned him an Academy Award nomination, and offered a prime example of his early acting style, described by Halliwell's Film Guide as "intense" and "tightly clenched".
In 1973, Pacino starred in the popular Serpico, based on the true story of New York City policeman Frank Serpico who went undercover to expose the corruption of fellow officers. That same year he co-starred in Scarecrow, with Gene Hackman, and won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1974, Pacino reprised his role as Michael Corleone in the successful sequel The Godfather Part II, acclaimed as being comparable to the original. In 1975, he enjoyed further success with the release of Dog Day Afternoon, based on the true story of bank robber John Wojtowicz. It was directed by Sidney Lumet, who also directed him in Serpico a few years earlier, and for both films Pacino was nominated for Best Actor.
In 1977, Pacino starred as a race-car driver in Bobby Deerfield, directed by Sydney Pollack, and received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actor – Drama for his portrayal of the title role, losing out to Richard Burton, who won for Equus.
During the 1970s, Pacino had four Oscar nominations for Best Actor, for his performances in Serpico, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, and ...And Justice for All. He continued performing onstage, winning a second Tony Award for The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel and performing the title role in Richard III for a record run on Broadway, despite poor notices from critics.
Pacino's career slumped in the early 1980s, and his appearances in the controversial Cruising and the comedy-drama Author! Author! were critically panned. However, 1983's Scarface, directed by Brian DePalma, proved to be a career highlight and a defining role. Upon its initial release, the film was critically panned but did well at the box office, grossing over US$45 million domestically. Pacino earned a Golden Globenomination for his role as Cuban drug dealer/lord Tony Montana.
In 1985, Pacino worked on his most personal project, The Local Stigmatic, a 1969 Off Broadway play by the English writer Heathcote Williams. He starred in the play, remounting it with director David Wheeler and the Theater Company of Boston in a 50-minute film version. It was later released as part of the Pacino: An Actor's Vision box set in 2007.
His 1985 film Revolution was a commercial and critical failure, resulting in a four-year hiatus from films, during which Pacino returned to the stage. He mounted workshop productions of Crystal Clear, National Anthems and other plays; he appeared in Julius Caesar in 1988 in producer Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival. Pacino remarked on his hiatus from film: "I remember back when everything was happening, '74, '75, doing The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui on stage and reading that the reason I'd gone back to the stage was that my movie career was waning! That's been the kind of ethos, the way in which theater's perceived, unfortunately." Pacino returned to film in 1989's Sea of Love.
His greatest stage success of the decade was David Mamet's American Buffalo, for which Pacino was nominated for a Drama Desk Award.
Pacino received an Oscar nomination for playing Big Boy Caprice in the box office hit Dick Tracy (1990), followed by a return to one of his most famous characters, Michael Corleone, inThe Godfather Part III (1990). In 1991, Pacino starred in Frankie and Johnny with Michelle Pfeiffer, who co-starred with Pacino in Scarface. He would finally win the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his portrayal of retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade in Martin Brest's Scent of a Woman (1992). That year, he was also nominated for Best Supporting Actorfor Glengarry Glen Ross, making Pacino the first male actor ever to receive two acting nominations for two different movies in the same year, and to win for the lead role (as did Jamie Foxxin 2004).
During the 1990s, Pacino had acclaimed performances in such crime dramas as Carlito's Way (1993), Donnie Brasco (1997), and the multi-Oscar nominated The Insider (1999). In 1995, Pacino starred in Michael Mann's Heat, in which he and fellow film icon Robert De Niro appeared on-screen together for the first time (though both Pacino and De Niro starred in The Godfather Part II, they did not share any scenes). In 1996, Pacino starred in his theatrical feature Looking for Richard, and was praised for his role as Satan in the supernatural thrillerThe Devil's Advocate in 1997. Pacino also starred in Oliver Stone's critically acclaimed Any Given Sunday in 1999.
Pacino has not received another nomination from the Academy since Scent of a Woman, but has won two Golden Globes during the last decade, the first being the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2001 for lifetime achievement in motion pictures, and the second, for Best Performance by an Actor for his role as McCarthyite Roy Cohn in the highly praised HBO miniseries Angels in America in 2004. Pacino also won an Emmy Award for Best Lead Actor and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his role.
Pacino's stage work during this period include revivals of Eugene O'Neill's Hughie and Oscar Wilde's Salome.
Pacino turned down an offer to reprise his role as Michael Corleone in The Godfather: The Game, ostensibly because his voice had changed dramatically since playing Michael in the first two Godfather films. As a result, Electronic Arts was not permitted to use Pacino's likeness or voice in the game, although his character does appear in it. He did allow his likeness to appear in the game adaptation of the remake of 1983's Scarface, titled Scarface: The World is Yours.
Rising director Christopher Nolan worked with Pacino for Insomnia, a remake of the Norwegian film of the same name. The film and Pacino's performance were critically lauded and the film did moderately well at the box office. Pacino next starred as lawyer Roy Cohn in the 2003 HBO miniseries of Tony Kushner's play Angels in America. Pacino still acts on stage and has dabbled in film directing. His film festival-screened Chinese Coffee has earned good notices. On the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains, he is one of only two actors to appear on both lists: on the "heroes list" as Frank Serpico and on the "villains list" as Michael Corleone (the other being Arnold Schwarzenegger, for his roles as the Terminator). Pacino starred asShylock in Michael Radford's 2004 film adaptation of The Merchant of Venice.
On October 20, 2006, the American Film Institute named Pacino the recipient of the 35th AFI Life Achievement Award. On November 22, 2006, the University Philosophical Society ofTrinity College, Dublin awarded Pacino the Honorary Patronage of the Society.
He starred in Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean's Thirteen alongside George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Andy Garcia as the villain Willy Bank, a casino tycoon who is targeted out of revenge by Danny Ocean and his crew. The film received generally favorable reviews.
On June 19, 2007, a boxed set titled Pacino: An Actor's Vision was released, containing three rare Al Pacino films: The Local Stigmatic, Looking For Richard and Chinese Coffee, as well as a documentary, Babbleonia. Pacino produced prologues and epilogues for the discs containing the films.
88 Minutes was released on April 18, 2008 in the United States, having already been released in various other countries in 2007. The film was critically panned, although critics found the fault to be in the plot instead of Pacino's acting. In Righteous Kill, Pacino's next scheduled film, Pacino and Robert De Niro co-star as New York detectives searching for a serial killer. Rapper 50 Cent also stars in it. The film was released to theaters on September 12, 2008. In Rififi, a remake of the 1955 French original based on the novel by Auguste Le Breton, Pacino will play a career thief just out of prison who finds his wife has left him; in his anger, he starts planning a heist. Also Pacino is set to play surrealist Salvador Dalí in the film Dali & I: The Surreal Story. Pacino is playing Dr. Jack Kevorkian in an HBO Films biopic entitled You Don't Know Jack, which is currently filming. In December 2009, Pacino bought the rights to the Philip Roth novel "The Humbling", about a worn out stage actor who finds new hope and erotic adventures with a younger woman. The film is in pre-production.
While Pacino has never married, he has three children. The first, Julie Marie (b. 1989), is his daughter with acting coach Jan Tarrant. He also has twins, Anton James and Olivia Rose (b. January 25, 2001), with ex-girlfriend Beverly D'Angelo, whom he dated from 1996 until 2003. Pacino also had a relationship with Diane Keaton, his co-star in the Godfather Trilogy. The on-again, off-again relationship ended following the filming of The Godfather Part III.