Al Pacino might not have appeared in as many comedies as Robert De Niro or Robert Duvall, but his latest film, Stand Up Guys, has Pacino making a rare clownish turn. In an interview with Yahoo!, Pacino talks about how he originally wanted to be a comedian and how he ended up a dramatic actor instead.
As for his acclaimed acting style, Pacino sums it up be saying, “When you get me on the acting trail, I get on that train… You’re always looking for what’s going to feed you, what’s going to feed the spirit and get you going” (However, how that applies to his role in the atrocious Jack & Jill is anyone’s guess).
Yet he can also give an honest assessment of his career, since at 72 years old he has nothing left to prove and sometimes feels like he could call it career. He confesses, “Sometimes I’m tempted to say, ‘Why am I doing this? Why am I still doing this?’ Then, after I don’t do it for a while, I say: ‘Oh, now I know why I still do it.’ If I suddenly didn’t want to do it anymore, that’d be fine, too. I’d probably be an usher again in a playhouse.”
When asked why he would turn to comedy roles in films like Stand Up Guys, Pacino points out that he began his career as an aspiring comedian. So how did he end up such an acclaimed dramatic actor? He reveals, “What happened to me is in life, I started to get used to other things besides myself doing something funny or coming up with jokes, and I started to get into what is the playwright and what the playwrights say and that the play is the thing, like Hamlet says. That’s the reason I stayed in the profession because I fell in love with drama, whether it’s comedy or tragedy. … I became more or less sort of serious about things.”
That seriousness lead to his breakthrough role as his signature character, Michael Corleone in the Godfather movies. He recalls, “That character was so consuming. Part of the reason why was because of its restraint, because of what is demanded of it in that style. The innards of that character, what his psyche was going through. To portray that probably affected me in some way.”
Yet despite his long career as a dramatic actor and his love for Shakespeare, there is one role that Pacino claims that he will not do: “King Lear? Why don’t you ask me if I’m going to climb the Empire State Building with a wire? King Lear? What have I got to do with King Lear? Isn’t that for other kind of people? It’s somebody else playing it. It’s George C. Scott or Ian McKellen. I don’t do that. I’m in Stand Up Guys.”