Al Pacino Biography

107k
Listen to Al Pacino
and similar artists
Play Now

Home > Actors > P > Pacino, Al > Biography


Birth Name: Al Pacino
Born: 04/25/1940
Birth Place: East Harlem, New York, USA


Born on April 25, 1940 in South Bronx, NY, he was raised by his mother, Rose, and maternal grandparents, after his father, Salvatore, an insurance salesman and restaurateur, abandoned the family when Pacino was two years old. Thanks to being exposed to theater and movies through his mother, he alleviated loneliness and shyness by acting out scenes from "The Lost Weekend" to wh ver would pay attention. Pacino later attended The School of Performing Arts, but dropped out when he was 17; instead studying at HB Studio and apprenticing at such avant-garde off-off-Broadway venues as Elaine Stewart's Cafe LaMaMa and Julian Beck and Judith Malina's Living Theatre. In one of those life changing events that seemed innocuous at the time, Pacino was cast in August Strindberg's "Creditors," directed by Charlie Laughton - the two went on to be lifelong friends - an experience that convinced him that he could be an actor. Pacino moved on to train at the fabled Actors Studio under Lee Strasberg, acquiring the Method acting intensity that propelled him to stardom.

Pacino first made his mark with an OBIE-winning performance as Murph, one of two men terrorizing an Indian (John Cazale) in Israel Horovitz's "The Indian Wants the Bronx" (1968). The following year, he won his first Tony Award playing Bickham, a drug-addled psychotic in Don Petersen's "D s the Tiger Wear a Necktie?" After making his feature debut in "Me, Natalie" (1969), Pacino landed his first leading role - as another drug addict - in "Panic in Needle Park" (1971). His bravura performance in that quirky film grabbed the attention of director Francis Ford Coppola, who persuaded a skeptical Paramount Studios to accept the actor as the dark and brooding mob boss Michael Corleone in "The Godfather." Though Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro won Oscars for portraying Vito Corleone in the compelling original and even better sequel, "The Godfather, Part II" (1974), it was Pacino's Michael that dominated both films, maturing from a cherubic war hero to cold-blooded mobster, who coolly orders executions, including one on his own brother (Cazale). Pacino was the right actor at the right time to play the lonely tyrant - his finely calibrated, dark volatility perfectly embodying the alienation and moral tumult of the decade.

Trading on the moody romanticism of his sad, sunken eyes, Pacino become a major star of the 70s, enjoying a four-year career roll practically unmatched in film history. In one searing performance after another, his brooding, anti-authoritarian, streetwise figures reflected the cynical mood of the times. After crossing to the other side of the law to portray the tightly-wound hippie cop of Sidney Lumet's "Serpico" (1973), he continued to establish his tragic, hair-trigger persona as Sonny, the bungling bisexual bank robber exposed to the glare of the media as he holds hostages in Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" (1975). Tucked amidst these career-making turns was an underrated turn in "Scarecrow" (1973), a road movie co-starring Gene Hackman, which removed the actor from his typical inner city environs. His breakdown after hearing from the bitter wife he abandoned that his son is dead - though the audience knows better - was one of his finest moments on screen.

Pacino went on to make a series of false steps, starting with "Bobby Deerfield" (1977), which cast him as a sports car racer involved in a maundering romance with Marthe Keller. In "...And Justice for All" (1979) - which seemed like a move back to solid ground - Pacino displayed lots of angry flash, but little complexity or soul. His next film "Cruising" (1980), elicited either scorn or outrage from audiences and critics for its ridiculous, simplistic and hateful story of an undercover cop who infiltrates New York's gay scene to find a killer and ends up being turned to the other side. "Author! Author!" (1982), Pacino's first outright comedy, was a mildly enjoyable attempt to channel his intensity and energy in a new direction. But he returned to form - however outrageously - with his performance in Brian DePalma's remake of "Scarface" (1983). Like the film itself, Pacino was deliciously over-the-top, but undeniably potent. Regardless of the negative criticism the film received, "Scarface" marked another seminal moment in the actor's long career. Unfortunately, he followed up with the incredibly dull saga set in 1776, "Revolution" (1985). The nadir of his film career, "Revolution" forced Pacino to reassess his work onscreen.

Unlike many stage-trained actors who abandoned the theater when their movie stardom went into ascent, Pacino was never far from the footlights, often citing the thrill of working on stage by remarking to




Browse More Actors:
# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z