Al Pacino hadn't even stepped on stage last Thursday before "TheGodfather" references began.
"I should have brought cannolis tonight," the guy behind me said aswe waited for "Pacino: One Night Only" to begin at the Hard RockLive in Hollywood.
It was a "Hoo-wah!" kind of evening, with a boisterous crowdshouting catchphrases from his movies ("Attica! Attica! Attica!")and a charming, animated Pacino talking for more than two hoursabout his astonishing career, backed up by film clips on a giantscreen.
Naturally, the biggest cheers were reserved for "The Godfather"films and the made-in-Miami "Scarface." But it soon became clearthat there wasn't time enough to scratch the surface of a career --"Dog Day Afternoon," "Serpico," "Heat," "Donnie Brasco," "Scent ofa Woman," "The Devil's Advocate," "The Insider," "Glengarry GlenRoss," "Dick Tracy" -- still going strong now for 40-plus years.
The length of that career was thrown into stark relief when theaudience burst into a spontaneous sing-along of "Happy Birthday" toPacino, who turned 73 on Thursday. He was clearly tickled andmoved.
And dressed in all-black, tanned and trim, sporting bedraggled hairand a funky "Carlito's Way" beard, with a chunky black ring on eachhand, Pacino didn't come across as retiree-eligible, but as adevilishly alert, aging rock star, which he said was the next rolehe was playing. No wonder the evening ended with a beautiful blondein the audience proposing marriage. (He said he'd think about it.)
Age doesn't mean much to Pacino, anyway.
"I told my girlfriend last night, she's 37, I'm 73, you turn itaround, it's the same number," said Pacino, laughing. "Plus, Idon't think old."
He credits that to children (his youngest is 12), good health andthe upbeat makeup of his father. "My dad had that kind of thing. Hehad a certain bounce to him."
In an interview-and-clips format that he has performed around theworld, "Pacino: One Night Only" touched on everything from histough, impoverished South Bronx childhood when he was known as"Sonny" Pacino, to why "Scarface" has lasted and "The GodfatherPart 3" failed to, well, what he likes to wear under his pants:
"I like to wear silk lining in my pants," he revealed. "I just getitchy. It's my sensitivity."
Although Pacino has never opened up that much to the press over theyears, he was quite dishy Thursday night. He started by thankingteachers and his mother: "My friends would come by and yell, 'Hey,Sonnnnnnny!' She kept me from going out late at night. All she didwas save my life, I think."
He deflected praise for classic Pacino movie moments. He said anassistant director told him to yell "Attica!" during the making of"Dog Day Afternoon." The famous "Hoo-Wah" line from hisOscar- winning role in "Scent of a Woman" came from a militaryadviser who used the phrase for a job well-done.
Speaking of Oscars, he has a theory: "I'd rather not get nominatedthan lose." (He's lost seven times.)
And his favorite Al Pacino film? "Goodfellas!" (Kidding. It's "TheGodfather" and "Scarface.")
So, yeah, he's known for gangsters. Fuhgeddaboudit, though. "Youcan't say Michael Corleone is the same as Tony Montana. You try tostay away from the stereotypes and invent something new."
He recounted how he almost got fired on "The Godfather" because, inthe early scenes, the studio heads couldn't see how he was evolvingCorleone from a quiet veteran to a stone-cold killer. Plus, he saidhe suggested to director Francis Ford Coppola that Marlon Brando becast as his father:
"So, now the studio had two actors it didn't want," he said, with alaugh.
After it was a success, he was offered a boatload of money for "TheGodfather, Part 2" but the same magic didn't happen on the thirdfilm. Pacino said it was because Coppola was forced to do massivere-writes when Robert Duvall declined to return as consigliere TomHagen.
In the original version, Michael gets mixed up with the Vaticanbecause Hagen is killed there and Corleone wants to find hiskiller. "It was a different movie, entirely."
At the end, Corleone was supposed to be gunned down coming out ofchurch, as wife Kay (Diane Keaton) cradles him in her arms. "Shesays, 'Michael, Michael, are you dying?' He says, 'No.'... He(Corleone) never changed. It was so wonderful. But it didn't gothat way."
When asked about the original reaction against "Scarface," which isnow considered a hip-hop classic, Pacino said: "If it came out thisFriday, people would have the same reaction. But it's lasted. Asthe guy says, 'I'm still standing here.'~HOA~128~128~"
The audience couldn't get enough of the "Scarface" talk. One personasked Pacino "what kind of bump" they were using during the makingof the film. "I don't remember," he said with a big grin. (For therecord, Pacino said he's laid off the smoking and substances foryears.)
Being an actor isn't all glory. Pacino recalled how he didn'tprepare enough for his recent revival of "Glengarry Glen Ross" onBroadway and would forget his lines: "I was really terrified." Andthere was the pain of making "Revolution," a Revolutionary War filmin which the studio didn't invest enough time to make it right."When that happened, I didn't make a movie for four years."
He's always been a fan of movies, though, since childhood. It nevergets old.
"If I'd seen Indiana Jones when I was 11 years old, I'd still bethere. I'd never leave."
The audience didn't want Pacino to leave Thursday night, as morepeople lined up at microphones for questions than time allowed. Atthe end, people were handing him scripts, asking him to signautographs and grasping for a handshake. Good preparation for thatupcoming role as an aging rock star:
"I got to give the Rolling Stones some new competition."
PACINO SAYS ...
Some more quotes from his Thursday night show
On talent: "I think it comes from desire. I'm starting to thinkthat desire trumps talent."
On the way he uses hi s voice: "I've been accused of being too big,too loud. But I like it. For some reason, it works."
On the 1970s being a golden age of movies: "They talk about the'70s being a Renaissance in movies. It's because the moviesexpressed what people were feeling. Today, it's TV ... realityshows that do that."
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