He is most famous for his appearances in violent gangster films such as Scarface and The Godfather – but next month Al Pacino is to a entertain a different audience when he fronts programming for BBC Radio 4.
A one-off documentary will see him reflecting on his work as a director, specifically focusing on his latest feature-length project, Wilde's Salome, which is based on Oscar Wilde's 1891 one-act play.
It is partly a documentary about Pacino's own experiences of making the movie, but also features filmed performances of the play itself, in which the actor appears alongside Jessica Chastain, who recently starred in Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, winner of the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival. "It took me years to find out what the hell I was doing and why," said Pacino in a transcript of the BBC programme seen by The Independent. "The truth of it is that I was bitten by the rub of love when I first saw Salome and I pursued it. I kept tying to get people to feel the same way I did and they just wouldn't. So I thought I'll try it one more time and make a movie of it."
Pacino acted in a Broadway production of Salome in 2003, and later in Los Angeles in 2006. He filmed the latter performance and edited it together with interviews about Wilde with Gore Vidal, Tom Stoppard and Bono. "I play Herod because crazy emperors work for me," Pacino says in the film. "As always, the world is his." However, when the movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival last month, The London Review of Books said it was "less a documentary proper than an enthusiast's rambling blog".
Pacino added: "I don't think of myself as a director but I'm making a film. I've found a taste for making movies I can wallow in and figure it out as I go. I've always tried to mix it up a little bit and that's what's kept me going."
A BBC spokesman said: "This programme will explore what inspired Pacino in his interpretation on film. [He] uses a mix of documentary, fiction and improvisation to get to the root of the story, and this programme will try to find out the motivation for this unusual approach." The programme will be broadcast on 14 November.