Alfredo James Pacino, commonly known as Al Pacino, is one of the greatest actors who to have ever walked the earth.
In a career spanning over five decades, we have seen this genius rise to the top of many ‘greatest actors of all time’ lists.
The actor has rocked the silver-screen in a diverse spectrum of roles. His portrayal as the newly-minted mob family patriarch in ‘The Godfather’ is one that Hollywood will never forget. As well as his role as an irritable blind Army Lieutenant in ‘Scent of a Woman,’ for which he won an Oscar. Pacino’s distinctive performances and choice of memorable films have left an indelible mark on us all.
Pacino’s rise to stardom
Pacino was a student of H.B. Studio and of Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. He credits his career success to Strasberg and praises him for his growth and launch as a performer. Pacino started his acting career on stage in a theatre in 1967 which led him to land a minor film role in the independent film ‘Me, Natalie’ in 1969.
Pacino’s first major role was in the 1970’s ‘The Panic in Needle Park,’ where he played a heroin addict. This role caught the attention of director Francis Ford Coppola, who then cast him as Michael Corleone in 1972 classic, ‘The Godfather.’ Pacino beat out other established actors like Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson and Robert Redford for the role. Coppola’s trust in him was rewarded after he got an Oscar nod for his performance in the film.
Pacino’s most successful film roles in the 70s-90s
It was in 1973 – ’74 that Pacino starred in two movies that established his position as one of the most bankable performers of the era. The first of these movies was ‘Serpico’ in 1973 where he portrayed a police officer who goes undercover to blow the lid of corruption on his fellow officers. It was his performance in ‘The Godfather Part II’ in 1974 which transformed him into the star that he is today. Unsurprisingly, he got Oscar nods for both these performances.
After a fairly unsuccessful decade on screen in the 1980s which failed to make any major dent in his acting career, Pacino made a strong comeback in the 90s. The 80s weren’t a total blow to his career though. His portrayal of a detective hunting a serial killer in ‘Sea of Love’ in 1989 received solid reviews. It was also the decade that is highlighted by his career-defining performance in ‘Scarface’ in 1983, where he played Cuban drug lord Tony Montana.
In the 1990s, Pacino really shined. After back-to-back successes in ‘Dick Tracy’ and ‘The Godfather Part III’ in 1990, Pacino’s dedication to his craft was rewarded in ‘Scent of a Woman.’ In this film, he played an Army Lieutenant who lost his eyesight and navigates his life after the accident. He won his first and only Oscar for this role, though he had been nominated four times before.
Two other notable performances in 1997 were his roles in ‘The Devil’s Advocate,’ where he played Satan and starred opposite Keanu Reeves and ‘Donnie Brasco’ where he played the gangster ‘Lefty’ opposite Johnny Depp.
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