Al Pacino

After one Oscar, three Golden Globes and one Leone d’Oro, Al Pacino receives the Marc’Aurelio Acting Award from the Rome Film Festival and kicks off the retrospective dedicated to him.


The third edition of the Rome Film Festival was opened by an exceptional guest: Al Pacino, who was called to Rome to collect the Marc’Aurelio Acting Award for the Actors Studio, the prestigious theatre workshop of which he is co-president, being welcomed by a festive crowd of fans and moviegoers.

Pacino entered the Actors Studio when he was about 20, after leaving school and working his way through as a factory worker and shoeshine boy. Despite the enormous success he has reached over the years, he never forgets his humble origins: “I know I come from the streets and had no formal education, but I was brought up on many different writers, from Balzac to Shakespeare. I had no formal education, but I read this stuff, and it’s the Russians that I really felt. Reading saved my life.”

Defining himself as a sort of a Chekhovian character, during his awesome career he interpreted many roles, from the mythical Mafia characters (Michael Corleone, Tony Montana and the ruthless gangster Big Boy Caprice) to their exact opposite: he was a cop (Serpico, Vincent Hanna), the devil in person (John Milton), and a king willing to give up an entire kingdom for a horse (Richard III). Chameleonic and strong-willed, according to Francis Ford Coppola he is also incredibly lazy. Referring to Pacino’s decision to turn down the role of Captain Willard in his Apocalypse Now, Coppola said: “Al wanted to make the movie, on condition that it run in his apartment.”

When asked about his greatest fault, Pacino answers: “I am not sure, I have to think about it. Maybe I would have the same problem if I had to tell what my greatest strength is. Perhaps they’re just the same thing.” He has always had a taste for the complexity and multiplicity of life, as well as of the roles he has chosen to perform, but he admits that over the years he has also learned the value of levity and irony: from Marlon Brando he confesses to have learned not to eat too much pistachio ice creams, and rather than as an actor, he would like to be remembered as the only man who lived to be 250 years old. But when it comes to love, he becomes quite evasive and prefers to quote Othello: “Perdition catch my soul, but I do love thee! And when I love thee not, chaos is come again.”

Following in the footsteps of the other Acting Award recipients Sophia Loren and Sean Connery, at the opening of the Festival Al Pacino also participated in a meeting with the Festival public and the Italian journalists, where he commented on scenes from films chosen to demonstrate the unmistakable method of identification and subjective research that has been the ever-present hallmark of the Actors Studio style. He said that the best tip he could give about acting was “to rehearse”: “Learn your words, and how to rehearse, and then rehearse,” he told reporters ahead of the award ceremony. “My style is to allow the unconscious to be free, so you don’t censor yourself.”

To the would-be actors he has much advise to offer: “The best way to make a strong impression during an audition? Not to show up at all!” – he jokes. When asked what’s the best thing in being an actor, the answer comes nice and easy: “The drink after the shooting, of course.” There’s no more to say. That’s Pacino’s Way.

Laura Giacalone is the Associate Editor for the Italian Journal.