Alfredo "Al" James Pacino (born April 25, 1940) is an Academy Award-, Golden Globe-, Tony-, BAFTA-, Emmy- and SAG award-winning American film and stage actor and director, widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential actors of all time. He is well known for his roles as Michael Corleone in the The Godfather trilogy, Tony Montana in Scarface, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman and Carlito Brigante in Carlito's Way.
He was the leading man in Scarface, He was Tony Montana.
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 his own restaurant called Pacino's Lounge, which closed down in 1992. Pacino attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts.
In 1966, Pacino studied under legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg (alongside whom he would later feature in the 1974 film The Godfather Part II). He 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 when he had won an Obie Award for his work in The Indian Wants the Bronx and the Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Play for Does the Tiger Wear a Necktie?. He made his first screen appearance in an episode of the television series N.Y.P.D. in 1968, and his largely unnoticed movie debut in Me, Natalie came the following year.
It was the 1971 film The Panic in Needle Park, in which he played a heroin addict, that would bring him to the attention of director Francis Ford Coppola. Pacino's rise to fame came after portraying Michael Corleone in Coppola's blockbuster 1972 Mafia film The Godfather and Frank Serpico in the eponymous 1973 movie.
Although several established actors, including Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, and a little-known Robert De Niro were vying to portray Michael Corleone, director Coppola selected the relatively unknown Pacino, much to the dismay of studio executives. His performance earned him an Academy Award nomination. Pacino's performance as Michael Corleone offers one of the finest examples of his early acting style, described by Halliwell's Film Guide as "intense" and "tightly clenched".
In 1973 Pacino starred in the very successful Serpico and the less popular Scarecrow alongside Gene Hackman. In 1974, Pacino reprised his role as Michael Corleone in the very 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 a bank robber John Wojtowicz. In 1977, Pacino starred as a race-car driver in Bobby Deerfield, directed by Sydney Pollock and received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actor – Drama, for his portrayal of Bobby Deerfield, but lost out to Richard Burton, who ultimately 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.
Pacino continued his dedication to the stage, 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.
His 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 De Palma, 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 $45 million domestically. Pacino earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in Scarface as a Cuban drug gangster. Years later, he would reveal to interviewer Barbara Walters that Tony Montana represented the best work of his career.
Pacino worked on his most personal project, The Local Stigmatic, a 1969 Off Broadway play by the English writer Heathcote Williams, in which he starred, which he remounted with director David Wheeler and the Theater Company of Boston in a 1985 50-minute film version, which was screened in New York in March 1990. It was later released as part of the Pacino: An Actor's Vision boxset in 2007.
1985's 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 films 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 as Big Boy Caprice in the box office hit Dick Tracy (1990) followed by a return to arguably his most famous character, Michael Corleone, in The Godfather Part III (1990). In 1991, Al Pacino starred in Frankie and Johnny with Michelle Pfeiffer, who also co-starred with Pacino in Scarface. He would finally win an Oscar for Best Actor, for his portrayal of the depressed, irascible, and retired blind Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade in Martin Brest's Scent of a Woman (1992). That very year, he was also nominated for the supporting actor award for 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 Foxx in 2004).
During that same year, Pacino was offered to voice Batman villain Two-Face in the hugely successful Batman The Animated Series but turned down the role. Pacino has since turned acclaimed performances in such crime dramas as Carlito's Way (1993), Donnie Brasco (1997), the multi-Oscar nominated The Insider (1999) and Insomnia (2002).
In 1995, Pacino starred in Michael Mann's Heat, in which he and fellow film icon Robert De Niro appeared onscreen together for the first time. (Though both Pacino and De Niro starred in The Godfather Part II, they did not share any scenes. The pairing drew much attention as the two actors have long been compared). In 1996, Pacino starred in his theatrical feature Looking for Richard, and was lauded for his role as Satan in the supernatural drama The Devil's Advocate in 1997. Pacino also starred in Oliver Stone's critically acclaimed Any Given Sunday in 1999, playing the team coach. The speech he performs in the film has become known world-wide as "the Al Pacino Speech" which is used to inspire many athletes around the world.
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 his role in the highly praised HBO miniseries Angels in America in 2004.
Pacino has turned down several key roles in his career, including that of Han Solo in Star Wars, Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas, Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, Ted Kramer in Kramer Vs. Kramer, Paul Sheldon in Misery, Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now, Richard Sherman in a never-filmed remake of The Seven Year Itch, and Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman. In 1996, Pacino was slated to play General Manuel Noriega in a major biographical motion picture when director Oliver Stone pulled the plug on production to focus on his movie Nixon. Pacino's greatest stage successes of the decade were in revivals of Eugene O'Neill's Hughie and Oscar Wilde's Salome.
Pacino recently 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. It is rumored Pacino actually declined the role due to a conflict with Electronic Arts' rival, Vivendi Universal, which launched a competing game adaptation of the remake of 1983's Scarface, titled Scarface: The World Is Yours. However, Pacino did not voice his character in this game for the same given reason. Pacino allowed his likeness to be used for the game, but not his voice.
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 was critically lauded and the film did moderately well at the box office.
Pacino 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. While The Local Stigmatic remains unreleased, his film festival-screened Chinese Coffee has earned good notices. On the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains, he is only the second actor to appear on both lists: on the "heroes list" as Frank Serpico and on the "villains list" as Michael Corleone.
Pacino starred as Shylock in Michael Radford's 2004 film 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 of Trinity College, Dublin awarded Pacino the Honorary Patronage of the Society.
With his box office earnings relatively modest of late, Pacino looks to be gearing up with several new projects. 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.
On June 19, 2007, a boxset titled Pacino: An Actor's Vision was released, containing 3 rare Al Pacino films: The Local Stigmatic (Disc 1), Looking For Richard (Disc 2) and Chinese Coffee (Disc 3), and also a documentary on Pacino's entire film career, Babbleonia (Disc 4).
Al Pacino's latest film 88 Minutes is expected to be released in 2008 in America, having already been released in various other countries in 2007. In his next scheduled release Righteous Kill, Pacino and Robert De Niro co-star as New York detectives searching for a serial killer. In Rififi, a remake of the 1955 French original based on the novel by Auguste Le Breton, Pacino plays 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, and the leader of the mysterious organization (Christian Blunner) in the 22nd James Bond 007 film Quantum of Solace.