Al Pacino biography

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Al Pacino biography

Actor, producer, director. Born Alfredo James Pacino, on April 25, 1940, in New York City. Pacino’s father left the family when Alfredo was an infant, and the young boy was raised by his mother and Sicilian grandparents in Manhattan’s notoriously tough area of East Harlem. An avid moviegoer, Pacino was known around the neighborhood for his dead-on impersonations of film legends. As a teenager he held various odd jobs, including theater usher and building superintendent. However, Pacino aspired for more creative pursuits and soon enrolled in New York’s Herbert Berghof Studio, where he flourished in drama and the arts. At the age of 17, Pacino relocated to the Greenwich Village area, which served as New York’s hub for performing arts in the 1950s and 1960s. Shortly after, he landed his first part in the stage production Hello Out There, which was directed by his mentor and friend Charles Laughton. In the mid 1960s, he worked as an actor at Café La Mama and The Living Theatre, where he enjoyed a steady stream of supporting roles and bit parts. Pacino went on to study under Lee Strasberg at the famed Actors Studio. He adopted the Method-acting approach (described as a technique by which an actor seeks to gain complete identification with the personality he or she is portraying), which would later influence his portrayal of some of cinema’s most complex characters.

During the late ‘60s, Pacino worked with the Charles Playhouse in Boston, where he appeared in a number of productions including America Hurrah and Awake and Sing (both 1967). In 1968, Pacino returned to New York and made his off-Broadway debut in the one-act play The Indian Wants the Bronx, for which he earned a Best Actor Obie Award. He soon graduated to Broadway, where he appeared in Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie? (1969), for which he received a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actor, as well as the Drama Desk and Theatre World Awards. That same year, Variety’s poll of metropolitan drama critics chose him as Broadway’s most promising new actor.

After conquering the stage, Pacino tried his hand at the screen, making his film debut in 1969’s Me, Natalie. Shortly after, he landed his first lead role (as a heroin addict) in Panic in Needle Park (1971). Director Francis Ford Coppola was so impressed by his performance that he cast Pacino in the coveted role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972).

Arguably one of the greatest roles in modern American cinema, studio executives were extremely skeptical when Hollywood heavyweights Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson were passed over for the virtually unknown Pacino. In his portrayal of the brooding Mafia heir, Pacino’s raw talent exploded onto the screen. The Godfather was hailed by critics and audiences alike, and Pacino received his first Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor in 1972. Two years later, he reprised his role as the more mature Corleone in 1974’s sequel The Godfather, Part II (this time securing his first Oscar nod for Best Actor).

In his next projects, Pacino collaborated with director Sidney Lumet and earned two more Oscar nominations for his roles as the incorruptible cop in Serpico (1973) and as a bisexual bank robber in Dog Day Afternoon (1975). Both unconventional films were extremely well received, only further confirming Pacino’s success as a multifaceted actor. Pacino secured his fourth Academy Award nomination for his role as a crusading lawyer in … And Justice For All (1979). In Brian DePalma’s Scarface (1983), Pacino played the infamous Cuban drug lord Tony Montana, opposite Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Loggia. After Scarface, Pacino took a four-year sabbatical from film, returning to star in 1989’s sultry thriller Sea of Love, with Ellen Barkin. Later that year, he added directing to his repertoire with a personal project titled The Local Stigmatic (1989), which was not intended for national release.

The 1990s proved to be a very productive decade for Pacino, when he made a number of acclaimed films and portrayed a wide range of characters. In 1990, he earned yet another Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role in Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy and (for the third time) played Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Part III. He captured his first Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as a blind veteran in 1992’s Scent of a Woman, and simultaneously earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance in David Mamet’s play Glengarry Glen Ross. In 1993, he reunited with DePalma for Carlito’s Way. Pacino paid homage to his grandfather in the Depression-era film Two Bits (1995), in which he played a character based on his late relative. Later that year, he starred as a determined detective in Michael Mann’s Heat (1995), alongside Robert DeNiro, who played the equally determined criminal. Heat reunited Pacino and DeNiro for the first time since the The Godfather: Part II and also marked their first appearance on screen together.

In 1997, Pacino received praise for his portrayal of a small-time mobster in Donnie Brasco, which co-starred Johnny Depp.

He delivered two no-holds-barred performances as a modern-day Satan in 1997’s The Devil’s Advocate (opposite Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron) and as 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman in 1999’s Oscar-nominated The Insider (opposite Russell Crowe). Later in 1999, Pacino headlined Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday, in which he played an aging football coach at odds with the establishment. Throughout his career, Pacino moved between screen and stage. In 1977, he won a second Tony Award for his part in the Broadway production The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel. In the fall of 1979, he took on the challenging title role in the play Richard III; and from 1980-83 he intermittently appeared as Walter Cole in David Mamet’s American Buffalo, performing in different venues throughout the U.S and Britain.

Although Pacino considers himself first and foremost a stage actor, his films are the medium that propelled him to stardom. His career has spanned five decades and over 30 films, the majority of which have produced some of Hollywood’s most memorable characters. Pacino has never been married despite a few long-term relationships with actresses Jill Clayburgh, Marthe Keller, and Diane Keaton. In 1989, Pacino’s relationship with acting teacher Jan Tarrant produced a daughter, Julie.

Pacino is known to be uncomfortable with the trappings of his stardom, and as a result he tends to withdraw from the limelight. He currently lives in a modest apartment in New York City, with his girlfriend, the actress Beverly D’Angelo, who he began dating in 1997. In January 2001, Pacino received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement at the Golden Globes' ceremony. Less than a week later, D'Angelo gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, named Anton and Olivia.

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