Pacino’s still passionate after 50 years

2015-01-25 15:00

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His latest character is a washed-up actor who’s lost all lust for life, but Oscar winner Al Pacino says he still has an appetite for making movies.

It’s been 50 years since Pacino started acting and his latest gig, The Humbling, is a passion project based on a Philip Roth novel.

He also co-produced it – on a slim budget of $2?million (R22.8?million). The Humbling was shot in just 20 days, most of it at director Barry Levinsohn’s house in Connecticut, US.

It’s the story of aging actor Simon Axler, who starts an affair with the lesbian daughter of his one-time flame in a bid to rekindle some magic in his life.

Pacino, chatting to City Press in a hotel room in Toronto ahead of the film’s release, says the magic is still there for him – especially when it comes to making a film he believes in.

“What I liked about The Humbling was the fact that it was a world that I understood, one I knew very well.

“It’s wonderful to do a film about a world you know, to be able to really get into it. It’s a tragic comedy,” he says.

“Doing a film is hard – doing The Humbling wasn’t easy, it never is – but it was easier because it was a world we knew that was close to something I wanted to say about things. When you’re enjoying a film because you feel you have something to offer, then it works.”

As he heads into his 75th year, Pacino could sit back and reflect contentedly on a long career that includes eight Oscar nominations (and one win for Scent of a Woman), dozens of characters that have left an indelible mark on cinema history and a rich variety of stage work.

But he says he’s not done yet.

Ever chasing that next great role, Pacino still enjoys doing theatre. He’s currently working on a David Mamet play called China Doll, which is due to open in October on Broadway.

He admits that being older means he’s limited in what he can and can’t do.

“It’s something that I felt even at 37,” he says, remembering The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, which he did in the 1970s.

“I was playing a crazy guy, [trying to save] a dead person, and a Vietcong comes and stabs me in the stomach while I have this guy in my hands, and then I had to somersault and roll down the ramp.

“I went to Broadway with the play five years later, and I couldn’t do it any more. It was a feat of enormous strength and I was still young – 36, 37 years old.”

Age has helped him get better at letting go of the roles he’s played.

“Early on, it took a lot out of me doing The Godfather [Part I and II] because the character was very inward, and wonderful to play, but harder to let go. Dog Day [Afternoon], too, was hard to let go. Now I find it easier to assimilate and then let go.”

Asked which is his favourite Al Pacino movie, the actor is unwilling to choose.

“There are movies I’ve done that I don’t remember – I got kind of a block on the 70s. Some of my best movies were made then, but maybe I was under the influence of something,” he chuckles (he’s been a recovered alcoholic since the end of that decade).

“I’ve done so many things,” he continues. “So for now, I’m going to say I can say The Humbling is my favourite.”

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