What Drives Al Pacino? (New Yorker, Sept. 15, 2014)


Excerpt: “…Most actors of Pacino’s stature—Brando, Jack Lemmon, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro—began in theatre and rarely returned. Pacino, however, craves the derring-do of working in front of a live audience, an activity he compares to tightrope walking. Stage acting, he likes to say, quoting the aerialist Karl Wallenda, is life “on the wire—the rest is just waiting.” Onstage, in the zone, he told me, “you’re up in the sky with the theatre gods—love it, love it, love it.” As a list of some of Pacino’s more esoteric stage work demonstrates—Eugene O’Neill’s “Hughie,” Bertolt Brecht’s “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui,” Shakespeare’s “Richard III” and “The Merchant of Venice”—the theatre is where he goes to challenge himself and to think. “There are more demands put on you when it is on the stage,” he said.

To Pacino, there is no such thing as a fourth wall. “The audience is another character in the play,” he said. “They become part of the event. If they sneeze or talk back to the stage, you make it part of what you’re doing.” …”

Read the complete piece HERE.

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7 Responses to “What Drives Al Pacino? (New Yorker, Sept. 15, 2014)”

  1. Haven’t read the piece yet but what an image that is!

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    • Yeah, the New Yorker always manages great photos to accompany their profiles. [As an aside, the magazine has a new policy of making a LOT more content available for free online.]

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  2. Is the Irshman happening still? Call me sentimental and nostalgic but De Niro, Pacino, Pesci and Scorcese is a reason to wet my pants!

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  3. I think this is an engaging and very well-written piece on Pacino so far (I have only read the first half), but doesn’t engage with Pacino’s acting — for instance it brings up the charge of him hamming in a lot of the recent films, but rushes past it. And then there’s the discussion on Pacino not so much acting as being his roles — but to my mind, he is precisely NOT the protean actor, but the sort of actor who is always, above all else, Pacino. [That isn’t a criticism of Pacino as much as it is of the article; I believe it misunderstands the nature of Pacino’s greatness.]

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    • … but, now that I have read the complete piece, I will say that it conveys a great sense of Pacino the man; he comes across as more interesting than any of his roles. I found the bit about his Tony Montana being inspired to an extent by Meryl Streep’s performance in Sophie’s Choice to be especially intriguing.

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