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On my second day with Pacino, I happened to be parked in front of his house as a tour bus rolled up. His comfortable house, with its absence of texture, is remarkable for its indifference to externals: no paintings, no designer furniture or fripperies. I like it.”He pointed out a watercolor beside the fireplace. ‘New York in the Fall,’ ” he said, then steered me back into the living room and deposited me on a sofa to watch “Wilde Salomé,” a docudrama he directed, starred in, and largely bankrolled, which premières this month.
Pacino’s focus, the house makes clear, is resolutely inward. And I understand myself in that way.” Pacino has given complex shape to some of his era’s most memorable creations: Michael Corleone, the college boy turned Mafioso, in “The Godfather” trilogy (1972-90); Frank Serpico, the police whistle-blower, in “Serpico” (1973); Tony Montana, the Cuban drug lord, in “Scarface” (1983); the hapless thief Teach, in “American Buffalo” (1983); Sonny Wortzik, the would-be bank robber, in “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975); the gangster Big Boy Caprice, in “Dick Tracy” (1990); Ricky Roma, the smooth-talking salesman, in “Glengarry Glen Ross” (1992); and Roy Cohn, the closeted lawyer, in the HBO version of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” (2003)—to name just a few of the more than a hundred roles he has taken onscreen and onstage. The film represents Pacino’s eight-year attempt to “inhale” Oscar Wilde by chronicling the mounting of a 2006 Los Angeles production of Wilde’s 1891 tragedy, in which he was Herod to Jessica Chastain’s Salomé. I think it was a mischievousness, a subversiveness.” Pacino relates to Wilde as an outsider.
Performing, for him, is not so much a profession as a destiny. “If you don’t have that alacrity of spirit, then you have to check yourself—because where’s the pony in all this horseshit? “I worked for United Parcels once, and I don’t want to have that feeling with my own craft—that it’s just a job.”Because of the protean nature of his attack, Pacino has often been compared to Brando, another truth-seeking force of nature. Pacino is the director yelling at the crew to hurry up; he’s the lubricious Herod eying his gorgeous daughter; he’s the interviewer prodding Tom Stoppard, Tony Kushner, Gore Vidal, and Bono to talk about Wilde; he’s the professor offering tidbits of Wildeana; and he’s the anthropologist trudging through the desert with kaffiyeh and camel.
(Pacino, who has never married, also has a twenty-four-year-old daughter, Julie Marie, an aspiring writer and filmmaker.) Every half hour or so, an open-topped tour bus crawls its way along the wide, manicured boulevard where Pacino holes up for most of the year, with a cargo of rubbernecking out-of-towners, cameras at the ready. At that moment, Pacino was reclining in a deck chair at the far end of a wide lawn behind the house, doing business on a cell phone.
Inevitably, they stop in front of his rented house, which, like the actor, is elegantly dishevelled. Beyond him was a fenced-off swimming pool, and beyond that was what he calls “the bunker” (as in “I hunker in the bunker”), a drab beige outbuilding, where he sometimes goes to incubate his roles.
” But, with two new movies waiting in the wings (Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” about the man who supposedly killed Jimmy Hoffa, and a Brian De Palma bio-pic about Joe Paterno), and a David Mamet play, “China Doll,” in the works for Broadway in 2015, the answer is not soon. The den is a sort of Camp Pacino, overflowing with toys: a pinball machine, a drum kit, electric guitars, dolls, a mound of games, balls, rackets, and swimming gear crammed into baskets against the back wall. “There are more demands put on you when it is on the stage,” he said.
A low table holds a sprawling Lego construction in progress. To Pacino, there is no such thing as a fourth wall.