- One of the greatest actors in all of film history, Al Pacino established himself during one of film's greatest decades, the 70s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies.
His mother moved them into his grandparents' house. Pacino found himself often repeating the plots and voices of characters who he had seen in the movies, one of his favorite activities. Bored and unmotivated in school, the young Al Pacino found a haven in school plays, and his interest soon blossomed into a full-time career. Starting on the stage, Pacino went through a lengthy period of depression and poverty, sometimes having to borrow bus fare to make it to auditions. He made it into the prestigious Actors Studio in 1966, studying under the legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg, creator of the Method Approach that would become the trademark of many 70s era actors. Making appearances in various plays, Pacino finally hit it big with "The Indian Wants the Bronx", winning an Obie award for the 1966-67 season. Gaining notoriety on the theater scene, Pacino then won the Tony Award for "Does the Tiger Wear a Necktie?". His first feature films made little departure from the gritty realistic stage performances that earned him respect: he played a junkie in Me, Natalie (1969) and Panic in Needle Park, The (1971). What would come next would change his life forever.
The part of Michael Corleone in Godfather, The (1972) was one of the most sought-after roles in film history. Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, 'Ryan ONeal, Robert De Niro, and a host of others were bandied about for the role, but director Francis Ford Coppola had his heart set on the unknown Italian Pacino. From the studio, to the producers, to the cast on down, nobody else wanted Al Pacino. Though Coppola won out through slick persuasion, Pacino was in constant fear of being fired and replaced at any minute during the hellish shoot. But the role was a career-making hit, and earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Instead of taking on easier projects for money, Pacino threw his support behind tough important films, such as the true life crime drama Serpico (1973) and the tragic real life bank robbery film Dog Day Afternoon (1975). Pacino opened eyes around the film world for his brave choice of roles; and he was nominated three consecutive years for the "Best Actor" Academy Award. He faltered slightly with Bobby Deerfield (1977), but regained his stride with the law film ...And Justice for All (1979), for which he received another Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
This would unfortunately signal one of the only bad points in his career, one that produced the flops Cruising (1980) and Author! Author! (1982). He took on another vicious gangster role and cemented his legendary status in the ultra-violent Scarface (1983), but a monumental mistake was about to follow. Revolution (1985) endured an endless and seemingly cursed shoot in which equipment was destroyed, weather was terrible, and Pacino became terribly ill with pneumonia. Constant changes in the script also further derailed an already terrible project. The Revolutionary War film is considered one of the worst films ever, gained Pacino his first truly awful reviews, and kept him out of movies for the next four years.
Returning to the stage, Pacino has done much to give back and contribute to the theatre, which he considers his first love. He directed a film Local Stigmatic, The (1989) but it remains unreleased to the public. His self-imposed exile lifted, he returned in striking form in Sea of Love (1989) as a hard-drinking cop. The film marks the second phase of Pacino's career, the first film to feature his now famous dark, owl eyes and hoarse, gravelly voice. Making a return to the Corleones he made Godfather: Part III, The (1990), and earned raves for his first comedic role in the colorful Dick Tracy (1990). This earned him another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and two years later he was nominated for Glengarry Glen Ross (1992). He went into romantic mode for Frankie and Johnny (1991). In 1992 he finally won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his amazing performance in Scent of a Woman (1992). A mix of technical perfection (he plays a blind man) and charisma, the role was tailor-made for him, and remains a classic. The next few years would see Pacino becoming more comfortable with acting and movies as a business, turning out great roles in great films with more frequency and less of the demanding personal involvement of his wilder days. Carlito's Way (1993) proved another gangster classic, as did the epic crime drama Heat (1995) directed by Michael Mann. He returned to the director's chair for the highly acclaimed and quirky Shakespeare adaptation Looking for Richard (1996). City Hall (1996), Donnie Brasco (1997), and Devil's Advocate, The (1997) all came out in this period. Reteaming with Mann and then Oliver Stone, he gave two commanding performances in Insider, The (1999) and Any Given Sunday (1999).
In his personal life, Pacino is one of Hollywood's most enduring and notorious bachelors, having never been married. He has a daughter Julie Marie with acting teacher Jan Tarrant, and a new set of twins with long-time girlfriend Beverly D'Angelo. His romantic history includes a long-time romance with Godfather co-star Diane Keaton. With his intense and gritty performances, Pacino was an original in the acting profession. His Method approach would become the process of many actors throughout time, and his unbeatable number of classic roles has already made him a legend among film buffs and all aspiring actors and directors. His commitment to acting as a profession and his constant screen dominance has established him as one of movies' legends.