Al Pacino Essay

1144 words - 5 pages

Actor, producer, director. Born Alfredo James Pacino, on April 25, 1940, in New York City. Pacino▓s father left the family when Alfredo was an infant, and the young boy was raised by his mother and Sicilian grandparents in Manhattan▓s notoriously tough area of East Harlem. An avid moviegoer, Pacino was known around the neighborhood for his dead-on impersonations of film legends. As a teenager he held various odd jobs, including theater usher and building superintendent. However, Pacino aspired for more creative pursuits and soon enrolled in New York▓s Herbert Berghof Studio, where he flourished in drama and the arts. At the age of 17, Pacino relocated to the Greenwich Village area, which served as New York▓s hub for performing arts in the 1950s and 1960s. Shortly after, he landed his first part in the stage production Hello Out There, which was directed by his mentor and friend Charles Laughton. In the mid 1960s, he worked as an actor at CafИ La Mama and The Living Theatre, where he enjoyed a steady stream of supporting roles and bit parts. Pacino went on to study under Lee Strasberg at the famed Actors Studio. He adopted the Method-acting approach (described as a technique by which an actor seeks to gain complete identification with the personality he or she is portraying), which would later influence his portrayal of some of cinema▓s most complex characters. During the late ▒60s, Pacino worked with the Charles Playhouse in Boston, where he appeared in a number of productions including America Hurrah and Awake and Sing (both 1967). In 1968, Pacino returned to New York and made his off-Broadway debut in the one-act play The Indian Wants the Bronx, for which he earned a Best Actor Obie Award. He soon graduated to Broadway, where he appeared in Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie? (1969), for which he received a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actor, as well as the Drama Desk and Theatre World Awards. That same year, Variety▓s poll of metropolitan drama critics chose him as Broadway▓s most promising new actor. After conquering the stage, Pacino tried his hand at the screen, making his film debut in 1969▓s Me, Natalie. Shortly after, he landed his first lead role (as a heroin addict) in Panic in Needle Park (1971). Director Francis Ford Coppola was so impressed by his performance that he cast Pacino in the coveted role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972). Arguably one of the greatest roles in modern American cinema, studio executives were extremely skeptical when Hollywood heavyweights Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson were passed over for the virtually unknown Pacino. In his portrayal of the brooding Mafia heir, Pacino▓s raw talent exploded onto the screen. The Godfather was hailed by critics and audiences alike, and Pacino received his first Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor in 1972. Two years later, he reprised his role as the more mature Corleone in 1974▓s sequel The...

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