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Crash course: Actor Al Pacino



The Panic in Needle Park, 1971

Pacino had his first leading role playing Bobby, a young heroin addict, in this doleful love story

The Godfather, 1972

Michael Corleone, the vengeful son of Marlon Brando's Mafia boss, was his break-out role and one he twice reprised

Serpico, 1973

Known for playing characters on both sides of the law, Pacino's next big role was real-life police whistle-blower, Frank Serpico

Dog Day Afternoon, 1975

Now among the most bankable of movie stars, Pacino won his fourth Oscar nomination as a frenetic Brooklyn bank robber

Scarface, 1983

"Say hello to my little friend": his biggest film of the 1980s spawned iconography that still adorns many a student living room

Scent Of A Woman, 1992

Finally won an Oscar as a blind, cantankerous ex-army man, with a big speech that set the template for many later roles

Heat, 1995

Michael Mann's LA thriller pitted Pacino's cop against Robert De Niro's criminal, the first time the pair had shared the screen together

Looking For Richard, 1996

Part-documentary, part-showcase for his talents as a Shakespearean actor – and his first attempt at directing

Angels In America, 2003

He could still surprise, playing a Republican heavyweight hiding the fact he has Aids in the acclaimed TV mini-series


For Al Pacino's latest dramatic role he gets into both the mind and the extraordinary hairpieces of Phil Spector, the innovative music producer behind some of the 20th century's biggest pop hits.

The movie Phil Spector explores the case of Lana Clarkson (an actress who had a small role in Scarface), who was found dead in Spector's Californian mansion in 2003, and his subsequent trial and conviction for her murder.

Helen Mirren teams up with Pacino as Spector's defence lawyer, Linda Kenney Baden, and much of the David Mamet-directed film focuses on the relationship between the defendant and his attorney.

Despite featuring real characters and exploring events that actually happened, the film made a strange disclaimer to viewers: "This is a work of fiction, it's not 'based on a true story'."

This may be due to the frosty reception from both Clarkson's family and Spector's wife Rachelle, who didn't like the crazed, gun-waving portrayal of her husband, who is currently serving a prison sentence of 19 years to life.

By Luke Blackall


Kevin Spacey recently surprised Al on live TV with a spot-on impersonation of him. Here's how you, too, can perfect your Pacino...

Comedian Rob Brydon does a good "young Pacino", a quieter man than later incarnations – demanding respect for "the Family" in the first two Godfather films in a sinister high-pitched Italian-American inflected whisper.

The key, however, to a good Pacino impression is the transition from the younger murmur to the screaming, ranting older Pacino seen in Scent of a Woman, Heat and at its hammiest (perfect for mimicking) in The Devil's Advocate.

Complete the impersonation with a little bit of Pacino physicality: shift suddenly from steady composure to frantic twitchiness. Wave your arms, point and occasionally lick your lips. And you've got it. "Hoo-ah!"

By Charlie Cooper