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October 22, 2014

Al Pacino thinks through a simple question about Jack Kevorkian - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Jan 15th 2010 11:29AM
Al Pacino and Susan Sarandon at the Winter 2010 TCAsYesterday was cable's first day at the press tour, and a morning full of panels by the Discovery networks and a few other assorted cable entities was followed by three hours of star-studded panels for HBO. I mean, we're talking about one huge name in entertainment after another: Claire Danes, David Simon (The Wire), Rosie O'Donnell, Susan Sarandon, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Ricky Gervais. Oh, and Al Pacino.

Pacino is playing Jack Kevorkian in the HBO movie You Don't Know Jack (Sarandon is also in the movie), and during the panel discussion, Pacino was acting a bit... odd.

How odd? He wore sunglasses on stage for the first half of the panel. His answers were often rambling statements punctuated with occasional insight. And the Bronx native spoke in a modified Midwestern lilt that made us think he hadn't gotten Kevorkian out of his system yet. When asked what it was like filming a movie for HBO, he replied, very Zen-like: "Well, it's television. It's HBO, and so HBO is television."

The height of Pacino's oddity was when I asked him a simple question: Did he ever meet Jack Kervorkian? I'm printing the answer below in its entirety, un-edited, to show Pacino thinking through the question right on stage, to the point where he realizes that, huh, maybe meeting the guy he was playing was a good idea:

"I didn't meet Jack. I hope I will now in the future. Sometimes, for some reason, I don't take access to that, and sometimes I do. And I felt with Jack it would be because I thought the script was so well was complete in its portrait. I mean, it felt as though there was room, and I had so much research.

"And with the media the way it is, there's so many things you could see and study and to read his books and get close to him in that fashion. Also, Jack was about ten years older then because he had gotten out of prison. We don't do him that age. We're when he's younger. And I wanted to I just felt this instinctively.

"Now, (director) Barry Levinson met him and got a great deal out of it, and there were times when I wish I would have. But in the end, I felt close to him in another kind of way.

"There are characters you do it with, and it works, and there's some characters you just you back away from doing. I don't know why. I didn't do for instance, I'll give you examples. With Frank Serpico, I studied and went with Serpico everywhere. I got to know him, to go back into the past. Anyone who saw that movie, it was him that I got to know.

"With Dog Day Afternoon, I didn't feel like I wanted to know that guy for this role and my interpretation. Now, I may have made a mistake. I don't know. I still to this day think I did.

"And with this, who knows. I probably did here too. But if you have the opportunity to meet someone as an actor, it's just great fodder for you. It's wonderful source stuff that we die for. And so that I didn't take access to it, you know, is a question, and I don't know why I didn't."

Wow, right? At the end of the session, the near-70-year-old Pacino made like he was going to leap off the stage into the waiting scrum of reporters, which would not have ended well. All I'm saying is that, whatever Al is taking for his various senior ailments, I may want some of that when I get to his age.

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