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At 72, Al Pacino still in ‘the amazing business’



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Updated: October 15, 2012 9:10AM

EL PASO, Texas — He once made a film called “Looking for Richard,” but when this Oscar-winning actor takes the stage, it could be billed as “Searching for Al.”

The traces of his many iconic roles — Mi­chael in “The Godfather,” Sonny in “Dog Day Afternoon,” Lt. Col. Slade in “Scent of a Woman” — ripple through “Al Pacino: One Night Only.”

The actor-director-pro­ducer and most of all, force of nature, brought his one-man show to the Plaza Classic Film Festival here last month as a fund-raiser. During his 2½-hour performance, Pacino reflected on his life and career at a pace of a coked-up Tony Montana firing off an M16. (On why he’s so animated onstage: “I don’t want to fall asleep. At my age, that’s what happens.”)

Though his screen characters remain outsized, the man himself seems self-effacing. At 72, Pacino gives the impression of someone with vistas to conquer — though he’s achieved success reserved for true legends. Up next is his role in the comedy “Stand Up Guys,” which will open the Chicago International Film Festival on Oct. 11 (and for which he and co-stars Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin will appear).

He even tossed in a plug for the film, scheduled for an early January release: “I had a great time on the set. I think you’ll like it.”

That’s an understatement. As Lt. Col. Slade once said, “I’m in the amazing business.” More from Pacino at the Plaza:

How his early film success changed him: “It was like being shot out of a f---ing cannon. In the first five years of my film career, to have five Oscar nominations, it was too much. I felt like I had no control.”

On his bond with the Actors Studio: “It’s still a home for me. It placed me as an actor. In my day, guys who looked like me, we didn’t get anywhere.”

Who does the best impression of him: “Johnny Depp.”

Best career advice: “Steven Spielberg once told me, ‘Never make movies with your own money.’ He was so right, I worked on ‘Wilde Salome’ [which Pacino directed, wrote, produced and stars in] for four years. [It still awaits a release.] I’m not a director, I’m an actor. But I like to make films without pressure.”

The role he most regrets turning down: “‘Star Wars.’ Harrison Ford, wherever you are, you owe your career to me.”

The film he enjoyed most: “Tony Montana in ‘Scarface.’ It felt as if it was tapping into the zeitgeist. It was really expressing something.”

What he learned from the real Serpico: “I met him when we were both young. I saw his eyes and thought, ‘I gotta play him.’ I really like to play characters like Lowell Bergman [who he portrayed in “The Insider”] and Frank Serpico. I remember I once asked Serpico why he did it, why he made such a fuss. I said, ‘Frank, why didn’t you just take the money?’ He said, ‘Well, if I did that, who would I be when I listened to Beethoven?’ Even I don’t get that.”

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