# Alfredo James Pacino , the only child of Salvatore & Rose Pacino, of Sicilian descent, was born in East Harlem on April 25,1940 but moved with his divorced mother to his grandparents’ near the Bronx zoo in 1942, at age two.
# He was nicknamed Sonny, but his friends often called him The Actor for his recognized talent of acting abilities.
# The Succession of jobs brought him in contact with all kinds of characters. He was a messenger, a shoe salesman, a supermarket checker, a newsboy, a furniture mover. He auditioned for Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio while as a teenager. Rejected but undeterred, he enrolled in another actor’s studio, Herbert Berghof’s, where he met the man who would become his mentor & closest friend, Charlie Laughton. Not only Laughton teach acting and direct Pacino in his first public play ( William Saroyan’s Hello dolly Out) but also introduced Pacino to various writers. Pacino was accepted by the Strasberg’s studio four years later.
# Even today Pacino confessed honestly that he loved Stage more than film and once commented that, “ In playing a character on stage I discovered a kind of explosiveness in me I hadn’t known was there.” In 1969, he was awarded his first Tony- the legitimate theatre actor’s Oscar- for his Broadway performance in Don Peterson’s Does the tiger wears a necktie?.
# Like Marlon Brando after his major stage debut in A Streetcar named desire, Pacino was lured by Hollywood. He was offered adozen pictures before he and his then manager, Marty Bregman, decided to choose The Panic in Needle Park ( though he did appear in a bit part in a Patty Duke movie called Me, Natalie). Panic was a strange and disturbing film about a New York drug addict, which over time picked up a cult following. “The entire cast,” Jacob Brickman wrote in Esquire, “especially Al Pacino & Kitty Winn in the leads, create intensely real people. Their brand of realness feels close to documentary.
# There was something about Pacino, however that made another newcomer in Hollywood, Francis Ford Coppola, choose him for the film he was about to do on the Mafia. Coppola had big ideas. He wanted not only to have this relatively unknown actor play a major role in his film but also to cast another actor not considered bankable at that time: Marlon Brando. The studio balked twice, but Coppola insisted. When they watched some of the early dailies, they want to recast Michael Corleone because they weren’t seeing what Pacino was doing. Pacino, however, knew exactly what he was doing. “Michael has to start out ambivalent, almost unsure of himself & his place,” he said, “He’s caught between his Old world familyand the postwar American dream,” The result was The Godfather, a film that reversed the downward trend of Brando’s career and that shot Al Pacino into the ranks of stardom. “The Godfather belongs to Al Pacino,” wrote critic Larry Cohen. “Everyone else is very good, down to the smallest part, but it’s Pacino that’s great.”
# He was nominated for 8 Academy Awards before winning the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in Scent of a Woman.
# In 1972, Pacino was first time nominated for an Academy Award for the Best supporting Actor, Pacino was insulted (he was on-screen longer than Brando, who won- and refused- the Oscar for Best Actor that year) and boycotted the awards ceremony.
# Still, he responded with another recognized performance in Sydney Lumet’s Serpico in 1973. This time he was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. (Jack Lemmon got it for Save the Tiger)
# His third nomination (1974) came after his strong performance in reprising role of Michael Corleone in Godfather II. (Art Carney won the Oscar for Harry and Tonto) The performance was described by critic David Denby in New York magazine as “a work of aggressive high intelligence, a bitter and sardonic view of the corruption of America and a frightening embodiment of paranoia as away of life.” (Taken together the two Godfather films “come closer to being thr great epic of 20th century America- or at least American manhood- than any other work of art I can name,” wrote John Powers in LA Weekly. This was the movie which proved that Pacino was among the rare breed of actors who would leave their mark in American cinema history.
# For his strong portrayal of bisexual bank robber in Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon (1975) he was nominated again for the 4th time & that also for the 4th consecutive time (A Record). (This time Jack Nicholson won for his performance in One flew over cuckoo’s Nest.
# Pacino was itching to find a character he could sink his teeth into, and found it into Oliver Stone’s screenplay Scarface. Here was a character off the boat from Cuba, who was tough, defiant, reckless & way over the top. The Director Brian De Palma had avision for this remake of 1932 Paul Muni film, and Pacino’s Tony Montana became one of Pacino’s personal favorite characters that he played. He used the word ‘Fuck’ 182 times in this film.
# Once again Pacino displayed a wide range of acting ability, which earned him his 5th Oscar nomination for his role of an ethical lawyer fighting corruption in the judicial system in Norman Jewison’s 1979 film…And Justice for All. (Dustin Hoffman won that year for Kramer Vs Kramer)
# Pacino received his 6th nomination for Oscar for his critically appreciated comic role as Big Boy Caprice in Warren Beatty’s 1990 film Dick Tracy & it’s fabulous performance but once again as it was not to be, as Joe Pesci got the nod for Best supporting Actor in Goodfellas.
# In 1992, Pacino appeared as Rick, the super salesman in Glengarry Glen Ross, based on David Mamet play. It had a strong cast (Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, Alan Larkin) and received solid reviews. Pacino received his 7th Oscar nomination for his performance, but it was Gene Hackman, who took home the statue for his role in Clint Eastwood directed Unforgiven. But that was for the Best Supporting Actor. That year Pacino also nominated for Scent of a woman, for playing the blind Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade in a bravura performance that landed him his 8th nomination and his first victory, as Best Actor of 1992.
# Pacino decided return to theatre after winning the award as his soul was in theatre. He played two different roles in two different drama a single day in Salome & Chinese Coffee which were critically appreciated and got massive appreciation all over.
# Robert De Niro & Al Pacino appeared together first time in Godfather II but De Niro played young Brando, so they didn’t get chance to work off each other. Michael Mann brought this two tigers once again on screen with firing performances in Heat (1995).
Recently they appeared again in Righteous Kill (2008) but the film was not up to the standard and it got mixed reviews. Michael Mann is planning to remake Heat again roping these both legendary actors together.
# In 1999 Pacino appeared again with two back to back awesome performances in Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday (Since Scarface it was Pacino’s favorite film as Stone has written it) and Michael Mann’s classic thriller The Insider.
# Pacino loves to play Shakespeare on the stage and he got opportunity to play the wellknown character of Shylock in Michael Radford’s well directed film The Merchant of Venice which costarred Joseph Fiennes & Jeremy Irons. Pacino brought compassion to character that was too often played as a caricature.
# On October 21, 2005, the American Cinematheque paid tribute to Pacino at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. Most of his co stars & almost all major Hollywood celebrities remained present there and almost everyone had expressed their gratitude for him as an actor & as a wonderful human being.
Robert De Niro said at this juncture: “Al, over the years we’ve taken roles from one another. People have tried to compare us to one another, to pit us against each other and to tear us apart personally. I’ve never seen the comparison frankly. I’m clearly much taller, much the leading man type. Honestly you just may be the finest actor of our generation.” And then he added, with a smile, “With the possible exception of me, frankly.”
When Bruce Willis presented the award, he credited Pacino with changing his life. After seeing The Godfather in 1972, Willis related, “I decided I was going to become an actor because I’d seen Al Pacino’s work in that movie.”
When Pacino came on stage he was visibly moved. “Acting,” he said, “miraculously, has taken me far. It’s beyond my wildest dreams. My imagination could have been gone there.”