Older Articles
Daily Variety
January 16, 2001
Working With Pacino

Related stories:
Man of the Moment
Thrill of Theater Still Beckons Star
By David S. CohenThe Actor's Actor
I took Sea of Love because of Al and only because of Al. I knew that acting with him would make me a better actor, and it did. Really all I wanted was to be pushed forward by him. I used to see his movies and I would go see American Buffalo like I was going to acting class. I must have seen him do it five times. So I knew that if I could jump on his train, so to speak, not only would I learn a lot but I'd be a better actor for it.

He's a great, great guy. He just works all the time. I used to call his trailer the Bermuda Triangle, because if I walked past it and he'd open the door and say come inside, you knew you were in there for six hours working and reworking and reworking a scene. It was great. Occasionally I would go back to my trailer and say "Michael Corleone. I'm acting with Michael Corleone," it was more like I was thrilled about it than scared. I wanted to rise to the occasion for him. I didn't want to let Al down.

He's very inspiring to act with. He just catches everything that's in the air. So the same thing happened to me. I got caught up on his wave, and I'm really grateful that that happened.

--Ellen Barkin, "Sea of Love" co-star

An Actor's Truth
"Al doesn't know how to fake anything, so you're going to get a reality that's going to come from the deepest part of his being. If it doesn't involve all of him he doesn't know what to do with it, and that's very rare. Also, because his sense of truth is inviolate, it affects everything else in the script and makes everyone better."

"One day really does stand out for me. In Dog Day Afternoon, when he did the back to-back phone call with his male wife and then his female wife, that was one of the most extraordinary pieces of film acting I've ever seen. I had two cameras side by side so he could play the two calls as one continuous scene, even though they ran over fourteen minutes. The level of despair he revealed is obviously a part of him, you can't portray it if you don't know it. He opened up a pit about that human being, a place where that man was, that was so devastating. It was so profoundly moving that anyone could even be in that state and still be alive. It just became a very important moment to me."

--Sidney Lumet, director of "Dog Day Afternoon," " Serpico"

Artistic Courage
Jimmy Caan introduced us right after I finished doing Thief. We kind of became friends after that, and were looking for something to do together. When we finally got together on Heat, whatever I anticipated the experience to be, it was much more extreme. Al's adventurous. He has the total courage to lose himself in that character and that moment to such an extreme that he has left self-awareness and self consciousness so far behind, and is willing to go anywhere, so it's just pure courage, artistic courage, with the talent, which is the horsepower that propels you forward. But it's a high wire act without a net. There are very few actors who are as ballsy as he is.

Al aspires to it happening for real, in the moment that the scene is happening and film is running through the camera. Everything is designed to have it be spontaneous and immediate then, and for him to authentically and actually be experiencing these things, and if you're authentically and actually experiencing these things, you don't know what's going to happen next. It's not programming. The programming is to set yourself up to be unprogrammed, to be spontaneous and immediate. That's the great art of Al Pacino.

--Michael Mann, director of "Heat," "The Insider"