Published on May 20th, 2015 | by Allan Brown4
An Evening with Al Pacino – Review
It was 8.30pm on Tuesday 19th May 2015 that Hollywood legend Al Pacino graced the stage of the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow for a night of unrivalled intimacy, discussing his long and illustrious acting career from past to present, spanning a dizzying fifty three films and numerous stage performances.
After a rousing montage of clips spanning his 47 year career, ranging from Scarface, The Godfather, Carlitos Way, Dog Day Afternoon, Heat and all the rest, the 75 year old superstar took to the stage where he was met with rapturous applause, in a venue that was packed to the rafters with ecstatic giddy patrons.
“We love you!” shot out from a crowd, to which Pacino warmly replied “Hoo-ah … HOO-AH!”, referring to the phrase he coined during his Oscar-winning portrayal of Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade in the film; Scent of a Woman.
Pacino was then joined on stage by Scottish journalist Billy Sloan who set him up to talk about his tough childhood living in the Bronx, his teacher who inspired him to become an actor – giving him his first role at eleven, his time at the world famous Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute – where he not only honed his craft but embraced the art of method acting.
Sloan then guided him on to talk about his time in Greenwich Village in New York during the 1950s, where he would sometimes perform up to 8 shows a day in the theatre café’s, just to make ends meet. Despite those times being difficult for the then fledgling actor, Pacino recalls them with a fondness and vibrancy. The conversion then steered towards the countless iconic films and characters he has graced the silver screen with over the years. Despite this line of discussion being why most of us where there, I couldn’t help but feel the format of the interview (at times) seemed to rein Pacino in, or hold him back in some way. These are of course questions he has no doubt been asked a thousand times before. So when he spilled over how the studio didn’t want him play Michael Corleone in The Godfather, his engagement with real life Mafia members post The Godfather Part 2, the origins of Hoo-Ah! or his memories of Marlon Brando, the actor appeared tired, perhaps even bored. However, when the opportunity presented itself, he would come alive, jump to his feet to enact something, tell a story, recite Shakespeare, or tell one of his many amusing antidotes in the full commanding Al Pacino gravitas, the Pacino we all know, remember and love.
The second act fell to the audience to ask the questions and despite Sloan reminding ‘us’ that “this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to ask an acting legend a question”, therefore “we don’t want any, can you say hello to my husband, he’s your biggest fan” types of questions. Sadly this was exactly what went down.
Ending on a cringeful note, a string of wasteful questions hurled out of the auditorium, ranging from pretentious name dropping “I was talking with Jay Leno in LA last weekend….” to “we have a picture of Tony Montana up on our wall, as my husbands a huge fan, can you say hello to him ….” To the utterly inappropriate “Can you say rest in peace to my dad who died last week” to which Al seemed, shell shocked, baffled, uncomfortable and lost in translation, as we, the remaining audience members, squirmed in our seat uncomfortably.
Other audience members were not so wasteful with the questions and these insightful nuggets prompted Pacino to give some fascinating incites. When asked about the roles he turned down, Pacino cited, “You know who I gave a career to? Harrison Ford. I was offered Star Wars, but I didn’t understand the script. He’s still not thanked me” he joked. When asked, who out of the ‘young’ actors of today he sees going the distance, as he has. Pacino replied “Leonardo DiCaprio”. Declaring, “he is an actor that constantly challenges himself, takes chances and risks in every role he embraces”.
In the final act, Sloan left leaving the stage to Pacino, and this is where he truly came alive. Yes, he acted!! Versing everything from Oscar Wilde to playing SEVERAL parts (at once) from David Mamets play American Buffallo, before ending on Eugene O’Neill stage play, Hughie, which may have been a little indulgent for some of the more mainstream fans. Nonetheless, for me, it was a thrill to watch one of my biggest all time hero’s take to the stage and do his thing.
By the end, it was clear to see why this warm, charismatic, engaging and utterly captivating 75 year old Thespian, has become THEE defining actor of our time. What a night!!