From "The Godfather" to "Ocean's Thirteen," Al Pacino Has Dominated the Big Screen

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Al Pacino stars as a Cuban refugee who rises to the top of Miami's cocaine-driven underworld, only to fall hard into his own deadly trap of addiction and inevitable assassination in this remake of the 1932 film of the same name. Directed by Brian De Palma, based on a screenplay by Oliver Stone.
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
April 4th, 2013

MOTW: From "The Godfather" to "Ocean's Thirteen," Al Pacino Has Dominated the Big Screen

Al Pacino is a Hollywood legend having one of the longest and most noted careers of any living actor. Pacino has been winning awards for his acting since the '60s and has played roles that will never be forgotten. His passionate performances, husky voice, and formidable personality packed into a small frame are well-known Pacino trademarks. How else to begin a biography of Al Pacino than with, "Say hello to my little friend"?

Pacino was born in East Harlem, NY, on April 25, 1940. He grew up in the Bronx and went to the famous High School for Performing Arts. Pacino dropped out when he was seventeen and started appearing in small productions way off Broadway. He got his first major break when the Actor's Studio accepted him in 1966, and he was able to study under Lee Strasberg. He quickly landed a role opposite James Earl Jones in "The Peace Creeps" and then starred in an off-Broadway show "The Indian Wants the Bronx." He won a Best Actor Obie Award for his performance in that show for the 1967 to 1968 season. One year later, Pacino started performing on Broadway. He won a Tony Award for his acting in the Broadway play "Does the Tiger Wear a Necktie." He later won another Tony in 1977 as Best Actor in "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel."

Pacino's first movie role was in the 1969 flop "Me, Natalie." His career went sharply uphill after that. Pacino went on to win the role of Michael Corleone in the 1972 film "The Godfather." This film and its two sequels gave Pacino stardom. The trilogy's director, Francis Ford Coppola, took a chance on the unknown Pacino despite not having the support of the producers or the studio. Pacino was nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting role.

Pacino was nominated three years in a row for Academy Awards in 1974, 1975, and 1976. He starred in a number of successful films in the '70s and '80s, including "Seprico" in 1973, "Dog Day Afternoon" in 1975, and "Scarface" in 1983. Pacino took a break for a few years, but he made a huge impact in the '90s with "The Godfather, Part III," "Scent of a Woman," "Carlito's Way," "Heat," and "Donnie Brasco." He won an Oscar for "Scent of a Woman."

His first child, daughter Julie, was born in 1989 to Pacino's acting teacher Jan Tarrant. Thirteen years later, Pacino's longtime girlfriend Beverly D'Angelo gave birth to Pacino's twins Olivia and Anton. Pacino was sixty when the twins were conceived. D'Angelo and Pacino are no longer together. Pacino has dated many women over the years, most notably Diane Keaton, his "Godfather" co-star. He was also linked to co-star Marthe Keller from "Bobby Deerfield" in the late '70s. Pacino dated Jill Clayburgh, Lyndall Hobbs, Kathleen Quinlan, co-star from "Carlito's Way" Penelope Ann Miller, and Debra Winger. He has never married.

Pacino continued acting, starring in the hit "Ocean's Thirteen" in 2007 and portraying Jack Kevorkian in the TV movie "You Don't Know Jack" in 2010. He received an Emmy for playing Kevorkian as well as an Emmy for his role in the 2003 HBO miniseries "Angels in America."

As amazing as some of Pacino's roles have been, he also turned down some memorable roles. Picture Pacino as Han Solo or Special Forces Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, both were possibilities had Pacino not turned down roles in "Star Wars" and "Apocalypse Now."

Pacino is well known for his method acting and intense style. Alec Baldwin wrote his thesis at New York University on Pacino and method acting. Baldwin was in the 1992 film "Glengarry Glen Ross" and the 1996 film "Looking for Richard" with Pacino. "Looking for Richard" was a documentary about William Shakespeare and his famous work "Richard III." Pacino directed the documentary. He also directed the film version of "Chinese Coffee" almost a decade after being in the Broadway version. In 2011, he directed a movie entitled "Wilde Salome" about Oscar Wilde. Pacino has produced several films as well.

Pacino continues to delight audiences with his acting, directing, and producing to this day. His recent work includes the feature film "The Son of No One" with Channing Tatum and Juliette Binoche. He also appeared as himself in the Adam Sandler film "Jack and Jill" in 2011. Despite his success on the silver screen, Pacino never gave up his theater roots. In 2010, he played Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice," for which he was nominated for a Tony.