Al Pacino: Manglehorn

Screen legend Al Pacino talks Manglehorn, fatherhood, feeling young at heart and the physical realities of ageing. 

David Gordon Green, the writer-director of Manglehorn, said he wanted to make a projection of you. Is the film about you? 

I don't think he got into my private life, if that's what you mean. I think he has his own, I won't call them issues, but he has a torn kind of relationship with his dad and his family. I guess that moves him and he wants to talk about it. That's all I can think. I don't have that.” 

You're a dad like Manglehorn. Has having kids changed you? 

I think it's affected my desire to work. As a matter of fact, I preferred being with them for a period of time. And I still do. However, I would say that I'm drawn to the work when I feel that need.” 

Your kids live in LA, don't they? 

Yeah and I have been there for a long time. I moved there from New York because their mother lives there, and I rent a house and see them 50% of the time. So I've been more or less a hands on dad. I'm not necessarily an advocate for that, but I see that my being there has helped.” 

Your dad moved out when you were two? 

I never really knew my dad. I had a grandmother and grandfather and my mother, and so that gave a dynamic to the family life that I always enjoyed. I have fond memories of that. Feeling like I was a part of something. But the kids grew up in this split home, which they got used to early on.” 

You're ageing well and still really seem to be enjoying life and work. 

I am young in spirit and having children sort of supports that because I just love it. And I knew I would. My first child was a little different because she wasn't planned. Turned out to be great, though.” 

You recently played a Jagger-like rock star in Danny Collins. Did you ever think you'd both still be grooving in your 70s? 

I like being compared to Mick Jagger. You said the right thing! Let's have a drink afterwards.” 

Do you ever worry about ageing? 

I try not to think about it because you're not in control of it. Things happen and best thing is to just keep going. One morning I get up and I can't move my neck. The next morning I get up and I'm just fine. It's sort of like the drinking days. So you learn to take aspirin before you go to sleep when you've had a night's drinking. I recommend it. But I don't drink any more, and haven't for decades.” 

You started to really drink when you became famous after The Godfather. Was it a new reality that you found hard adjusting to? 

Naturally. I also think it was sort of a different world then. Almost 59 years ago, believe it or not. But the tone was different in the media, in the world, in terms of this whole idea of fame. It wasn't a part of our vocabulary as it is today. Now it's a more natural thing. It's what people aspire to.” 

But now you're an icon and can presumably do whatever you want. That must be great? 

“Well that is an extremely complicated idea when you think about it. I don't think about it much, but it's there. It's informed a lot of my life. So you get the great perks from it, but there's a dark side to it too. So you work with the balance as you go along. As somebody once said, it's a double-edged sword. And you're very grateful and you have what a lot of people want, and you also have a knowledge they don't have about it.” 

How do you adjust to everyone having preconceptions about you? 

Hey, that's okay. Because what happens is I try to maintain an anonymity. That's one of the reasons early on why I wasn't so accessible to the press, because I always thought that knowing the character I am playing is more important to everything. To reality. To sanity. You know, I could have gone into a life of repertory somewhere, like other actors have, but I was lucky to be in these projects that took me this way. And so you say, 'The play is the thing.'” 

What has helped you keep your feet on the ground?

 My kids. When I come home from any outing, whether it's a movie or some film festival stuff, I open the door and walk in and it's not about you any more. And there's a real relief to that. At first you're a little stunned like, 'Hey, wait a minute?!' Then you get back to reality.” 

Do you ever look back at your career, at films like The Godfather, Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon, and just think, 'Wow!'? 

Well I don't have a real memory of the 70s. But things were happening, right?” 


But no, I don't look back and I would imagine that might be a blessing. I thank God for it. But you know what I like? I like when I meet someone and they say to me, 'Gee, I met you 10 years ago,' and then go, 'You were so nice to me.' I think, 'Oh, wow!' It's like seeing a biography of yourself and you say, 'Oh, I'm not a bad guy.'” 

Manglehorn is released on DVD in the UK on November 2

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