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The untold truth of Al Pacino

Al Pacino is a Hollywood icon who has been lighting up the silver screen with his talent for over half a century. Pacino's intensity is legendary, and has delighted cinephiles in an amazing array of roles — to say nothing of the many, many awards it's netted him. The actor has also managed to elude the tabloids by keeping himself out of trouble, keeping his private life private, and handling things like the professional he is. These qualities have the fringe benefit of making Pacino a bit mysterious in the eyes of fans, which adds a unique allure to his already impressive public persona.

Given Pacino's approach to acting, it's no surprise that he prefers to keep his identity divorced from his roles. The renowned method actor studied under some of the greatest thespians of the century, and is known for taking roles in movies defined by crime, vice, and brutality. When one takes into account where he's from — Pacino was born in East Harlem and spent most of his childhood growing up in the Bronx — his intense persona and interest in demanding roles makes quite a bit of sense. What other facets make this storied actor who he is? We're here to answer that very question with this look into the life of Al Pacino.

Al Pacino was arrested for attempted robbery

Al Pacino doesn't just play criminals — he's been one himself. Now, don't get the wrong idea: He's managed to keep himself out of the court systems since. Plus, the incident that led to a police station photo session was somewhat humorous. Pacino was on his way to an acting job with two other actors when they were pulled over by police. Apparently the officers got suspicious about their car circling the block several times. When they approached the vehicle, the young actors had masks, gloves, and a .38 caliber pistol in the back seat.

Al Pacino and friends were detained, charged with possession of a concealed weapon, and had some lovely photos taken. Most aspiring actors aren't known for their bank accounts, so it's no surprise that none of them could make bail. Pacino and friends remained in jail for three days until the situation sorted itself out. Turns out that the gun they had in the back was a prop gun. According to police reports, Pacino was "very helpful" during questioning — pretty much the opposite way many of his characters might have behaved. Somehow, we can't see Tony Montana helping the cops. But keeping his head on straight probably helped the young legend have all charges against him dropped, as they eventually were.

Pacino boycotted the 1973 Oscars

Pacino's acting career was launched into the stratosphere by his performance as Michael Corleone in The Godfather. The film boasted a modest $6 million budget – a fact that left producers ecstatic when the film crossed the $100 million mark in theaters. It went on to garner 11 Oscar nominations, including one for Pacino for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. But this only insulted the thespian — so much so that he decided to forgo the entire ceremony.

See, Marlon Brando had been nominated for his role in the same film in the Best Actor category, even though Pacino's character appears on screen for more time. The fact that he was shut out of the Best Actor category despite an arguably larger role greatly offended Pacino. Thus, he boycotted the Oscars ceremony — but many people didn't realize this, because his actions were overshadowed by an even bolder move from his co-star. Marlon Brando also boycotted the ceremony, in protest of poor treatment of Native Americans in film. An actress named Sacheen Littlefeather stepped up to the podium in his place

It's understandable that Pacino felt as though the classification of his role was insulting. But the actor may have rubbed the Academy the wrong way, because it would be 20 years until he finally claimed a win.

Pacino has turned down a ton of iconic roles -- including Han Solo

Pacino has been in a whole lot of blockbusters — but he's passed on just as many. Most notably, the megastar was offered the role of Han Solo in Star Wars. In an interview in 2013, the actor admitted that he didn't take the role because he "didn't understand the script." 

Pacino didn't just miss the gravy train with Lucas: He also passed on a major Spielberg hit. He was offered Richard Dreyfuss' role in Close Encounters of The Third Kind, but passed. Pacino was also asked to team up again with director Francis Ford Coppola for Apocalypse Now, but went a different route. Before Beverly Hills Cop became a comedic vehicle carried by the charm of Eddie Murphy, it was an edgy crime thriller — one that Pacino was offered but decided against. Pacino even passed on Die Hard! When asked about this particular blunder, his only response was, "I gave that boy a career." 

Al Pacino doesn't seem too bothered by his missed opportunities, as he made clear in an interview with Larry King: "Sometimes it's just not the right role for you. You don't feel you belong in that role." We certainly agree. He went on to note that he passed on Pretty Woman for these reasons. It's pretty hard to imagine Pacino wooing an adorable Julia Roberts — but then again, the script was originally a much darker tale.

Pacino is one Grammy short of the prestigious EGOT

A unique upper echelon of performers are recognized in the form of the prestigious EGOT. Becoming an EGOT winner demands a win in four major American entertainment awards: One needs an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. There are only 15 people in history who have achieved this, including Mel Brooks, Whoopi Goldberg, and John Legend. Al Pacino isn't known for musicals, so we'd venture to say the thespian may stay one Grammy short of joining the EGOT club — but he's a lot closer to joining that club than you might realize.

Al Pacino won his first Tony award in 1969, for his role in Does A Tiger Wear A Necktie? The role brought him to the attention of film directors, and helped secure his role in The Godfather. His first Emmy win came from his 2004 performance in the miniseries Angels In America. The series managed to sweep the Emmys in every acting category that year. Pacino's first Oscar win came in 1993, for the film Scent of A Woman. He wasn't nominated again until The Irishman in 2020

Now, most of us picture singers and songwriters when it comes to Grammy nominations. But there are also awards given for spoken word projects, such as audiobooks. Pacino was in fact nominated for a Grammy, for his reading of Shakespeare's sonnets in 2001. He didn't win, but the possibility of an EGOT in Pacino's future remains.

Al Pacino has never been married

A staple of Hollywood tabloids is the gossip surrounding the relationships of the stars. The dating life of celebrities carries with it an inherent intrigue — they're beautiful, they're visible, they're envied — which has earned a reliable pool of interested onlookers from the dawn of the film industry to the modern day. The tabloids most likely find themselves digging for scraps when it comes to Pacino's love life, however.

Pacino does indeed date, and some of those relationships do, in fact, end. But Pacino's relationships don't end in any court battles, unfortunately for the tabloids, because he has never been married. Given that Al Pacino is just shy of 80 years old, it seems as though he is committed to not being committed. Most recently, in early 2020, he split with his girlfriend Meital Dehan, 43, with her stating that the age gap between the two had become an issue, and that they were at two different places in their lives. Most famously, Pacino had a  relationship with Diane Keaton, which ended when he wouldn't commit to marrying her. Funnily enough, Keaton now celebrates the fact that she never got married, saying she's "really glad" she never tied the knot.

Al Pacino started in stand-up comedy

It's hard to imagine Pacino, in all his gruff intensity, spot-lit on the stand-up stage, delivering zingers. But that was once a very real part of the famed actor's life. According to the man himself, Pacino started out on comedy stages, working as a stand-up comic. Apparently, he was gifted at physical comedy, but quickly realized that he "didn't want to be funny all the time, only when [he] felt like it." Such is the burden of the jester. It's interesting to picture an alternate reality in which Pacino is a hybrid of Lewis Black and Bill Hicks, screaming obscenities at audiences. This Pacino would no doubt be exhilarating to watch: He has proven himself to be a dynamic performer, in a way that might have been honed towards comedy, had he the inclination. Perhaps in that alternate universe, he's a legendary comedian. But in our world, we seldom find ourselves giggling at his intense deliveries. Unless he's doing a caricature of himself, of course, a la Dick Tracy.

Scarface wasn't widely beloved -- until rappers stepped in

When Scarface first hit theaters, it did not have the immediate cultural impact one might expect. In fact, critics trashed the movie for a myriad of reasons. Many of them mocked the lack of authenticity in Pacino's accent. Others claimed Scarface was surface level nonsense offering only the shallowest performances from its impressive actors. For a variety of reasons, audiences ignored these reviews, and Scarface has become essential cinematic viewing — especially in the hip-hop community.

See, Scarface had begun to fade from our cultural subconscious, until a number of celebrated rappers stepped in and gave it the credit it deserves. A resurgence in popularity occurred when it came to light that rap icons such as Nas, Diddy, and Snoop Dogg all shared a love for the 1983 cocaine-fueled flick. There was even a 2003 documentary on the fandom, called Scarface: Origins of A Hip-hop Classic. Hip-hop artists were drawn to the story of Tony Montana and his determination to rise up from his life on the streets. His ascension to glory may be mired in blood and mayhem, but it's an ascension nonetheless. Thus, Scarface became cemented in the public's consciousness forevermore.

Al Pacino has one Oscar -- and nine nominations

Al Pacino's prolific career has been acknowledged by several generations of audiences. But the upper rung of success in Hollywood remains tied up in getting that shiny gold statue at the Oscars. Al Pacino practically has a seat reserved in the grand theater, but despite being nominated for an Oscar nine separate times (most recently for The Irishman), he has only received the statue once. 

It gets weirder: Until 2020, Pacino actually hadn't even been nominated for an Oscar since his first and only win in 1993 for Scent of A Woman. This sole win felt like a long time coming on its own, considering it was his eighth nomination at the time. Though nine nominations is nothing to sneeze at, it's truly remarkable to see just how many dry spells the man has gone through. And, when you compare his Oscars track record to an actor of similar age and range, like, say, Jack Nicholson, who has more wins and nominations to his name, it becomes truly baffling. Come on, Academy — stop holding out!

Al Pacino, Razzie winner

Any career in entertainment undoubtedly involves enduring some degree of criticism. Even the greats are subject to the whims of pessimistic critics — and Al Pacino is no exception. Consider the Golden Raspberry Awards, commonly known as the Razzies. Started by a publicist in his living room in the early 80's, the awards are given out to the worst films and performances of the year. Presentation of the Golden Raspberry is modeled after the Academy Awards, but with a deliberately tacky veneer. It's all in good fun ... though some who receive the "honor" might disagree.

With a career as illustrious as Al Pacino's, you wouldn't expect to see his name among the list of past Razzie winners. But a long career comes with misses as well as hits, like 2011's Jack And Jill. This Adam Sandler-led film was a massive flop, which most of us are happy has faded into history. That's probably why it's so easy to forget that Al Pacino played himself in this film. Not Pacino's finest performance, but probably one of his most unique.

Pacino took a four year hiatus after a devastating flop

Al Pacino is not immune to failure: The performer has had his fair share of critical lashings. Scarface, for example, was not well received — and his next film would open to an even harsher reception. In 1985, Al Pacino starred in the mega-flop, Revolution. This disaster of a film failed on every single level. Critics bashed Pacino for his New York accent, tore apart the film's choppy editing, and lambasted it for feeling like a soulless recounting of historical events. Celebrated film critic Pauline Kael referred to the movie as "a certifiably loony picture; it's so bad it puts you in a state of shock." That is certainly a level of cinematic hatred that would hit an actor at his core. The film also had a sizable budget of $28 million, which saw little return — it barely earned $350,000. 

After enduring harsh criticism for two films in a row, Pacino stepped back from acting for four years. Thankfully, he returned in the early '90s. Pacino stands by Revolution to this day, despite the fact that it has not enjoyed the sort of positive critical  re-evaluation Scarface has.

Pacino was nominated for two Oscars in the same year for two different films

After a rough patch in the late '80s, Pacino was coaxed back into the spotlight. He started the decade off strong with an Oscar-nominated performance in Dick Tracy. His portrayal of a cartoonish mobster spiraling into existential crisis was a captivating and highly amusing performance that delights audiences to this day. Pacino didn't stop there, though: He charged into more roles that expanded his range and showed off what he could really do. In 1993, he was nominated for not one, but two Oscars in the same year. This is a feat few have achieved, especially among male actors, but Pacino beat the odds.

Not only was Pacino nominated for Best Actor for Scent of A Woman, he was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Glengarry Glen Ross. Pacino walked away with one statue in the Best Actor category, a well-deserved honor for his portrayal of a blind, retired army officer. While he is considered Hollywood royalty, Al Pacino wouldn't be nominated for another Oscar for another 27 years.

Robert DeNiro and Pacino didn't appear in a scene together until 1995

There are several actors who seem to go hand-in-hand with one another: Think of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, or Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Robert De Niro and Al Pacino seem like they should be this sort of iconic duo. They both have had similar careers spanning several decades. They both had similar upbringings, with De Niro growing up in Manhattan and Pacino spending most of his time in the Bronx. They both have become renowned for their gruff portrayals of mafiosos with a certain simmering intensity. Yet while they're both in The Godfather Part II, they never actually share a scene together. These acting legends never stepped into the same frame, in fact, until 1995, when they starred together in Michael Mann's Heat

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro starred together again in 2020's The Irishman, in which fans finally get to watch the two spend some serious time on-screen together. There had to have been interesting banter between the two on set — especially when you consider that De Niro has Pacino beat by exactly one Oscar.

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