Alongside fellow Italian super star, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino is one of the greatest actors of all time, taking the film world by storm in the early 1970’s and quickly evolving from a short nobody to an Academy-Award contender. Powerfully menacing in whatever role he takes on, Pacino has become a fan favorite and made the job of film critics everywhere that much easier. The long list of cinematic masterpieces that garnish his resume are just as intimidating as the long list of films he turned down, including “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Star Wars,” “Pretty Woman” and “Crimson Tide.” Born Alfredo James Pacino in April of 1940 to a pair of Italian immigrants living in East Harlem, Pacino was interested in acting since the age of three when he would return home from a trip to the movies and act out the scenes to his grandfather. Along with inventing fictional histories for himself to impress his schoolmates, Pacino also took part in many of the school plays and was even voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” At fourteen, Pacino left home for the High School of Performing Arts, but was shortly expelled after scoring poorly in the classroom. Three years later, the young actor left home to pursue a career on the stage and worked odd jobs as a theater usher and janitor to keep himself from living on the streets. During his time looking for work as an actor, Pacino was also arrested for carrying a concealed weapon when a group of his friends were stopped by police wearing black ski masks and looking ominous, but he talked his way out of jail by explaining to the cops that it was an acting assignment. After his run in with the law and five more years of uninspiring work, Pacino enrolled in acting lessons with Charles Laughton at the Herbert Berghof Studio until he was finally accepted in to the acclaimed Actor’s Studio.
Pacino dabbled in some off-Broadway productions and made a few appearances on the screen, but it wasn’t until director Francis Ford Coppola offered him the role of Michael Corleone in “The Godfather” that his career was truly on the track to success. His performance in the final acquired plenty of critical recognition and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but Pacino was far from finished. He followed up his award-worthy performance with a revival of the Corleone family in “The Godfather: Part II,” as well as other fabulous performances in “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Scarface,” “Frankie and Johnny” and “Carlito’s Way.” The butt end of Pacino's career hasn't been nearly as impressive as his earlier stuff, but his eventual decline in the Hollywood food chain isn't that painful when compared to other big names like De Niro and Brando. While his choices haven't been the greatest (i.e. "The Devil's Advocate," "Insomnia" and "The Recruit"), he never fails to turn a bad script into an amazing performance. Case in point: edging out an Oscar nomination as the cartoonish Big Boy Caprice in "Dick Tracy" is a hard feat in its own, but Al Pacino is a Hollywood legend that will never die.
Al on the Web
An online database of Pacino's wonderful film and TV career.
TV Guide: Al Pacino
Al Pacino Videos, Interviews and More on TV Guide's Online Video Guide
Featuring one of Yahoo's better biographies, the Al Pacino actor page also offers a great collection of movie stills and red carpet photos.
A cool fan site with updated news on the aging actor.
The best of the fan sites on the web offers a storytelling biography, over 600 pictures and five readable articles.
Asad's Al Pacino Page
Another decent fan page whose main feature includes film synopsis for nearly every Pacino movie.
The Legend That is Al Pacino
A small site with short film reviews, trailers, two quizzes and a page filled with trivia.
Al Pacino Soundboard
A nice collection of sound clips from Pacino's past films.
Updated entertainment news on Pacino's career.
Al on the Screen
Rolling out the blueprints to Pacino's career can be a bit tedious, but his film work has been so prominent throughout the past 30 years that it would be a shame not to touch on his greatest movies. Joining Robert de Niro in the ranks of overused Italians in the mob film, Pacino has made a living on a number of these roles, most prominently with his Hollywood breakthrough performance in Copolla's "Godfather" trilogy and Brian de Palma's "Carlito's Way." Pacino's also been a straight-out baddie in early films like "Scarface" and "Dog Day Afternoon," and in later films like "The Recruit." Pacino's also been on the flip side of crime in "Serpico," "Donnie Brasco," "Heat" and "Insomnia." Some of the actor's more recent films have given the short-statured actor some interesting characters to play, like the burnt-out football coach in Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday," taking down the cigarette industry alongside Russell Crowe in "The Insider" and as a blind lieutenant in "Scent of a Woman." Pacino has gotten a bit soft lately when choosing film roles and that Paul Bunyan-beard growing from his chin isn't helping his physical appearance either, but regardless of what direction he takes his career, Pacino will always be one of the most talented actors on the market.
The past few years haven't seen Pacino through his finest films, but he has continued to put out a few decent projects that fans won't completely growl at. Taking a lot of time off the screen for more rewarding work on the stage or in TV miniseries like the award-winning "Angels in America," Pacino will be releasing three more films throughout the next two years, as well as lending his voice to the video game adaptation of "Scarface." Along with the FBI thriller, "88 Minutes," Pacino will also be seen playing Chicago bootlegger Moe Snyder in "Torch," the 2006 drama about the 1920's Chicago relationship between Snyder and the young singer Ruth Etting.
Comments from the Don
On CGI film characters:
"It's easy to fool the eye but it's hard to fool the heart."
"The actor becomes an emotional athlete. The process is painful--my personal life suffers."
"You hate to say you get used to it, because you don't really get used to it, but it gets easier. You accept it more. And you finally have to become more comfortable with it. That's what's happened to me, I think."