Al Pacino wouldn’t be an actor without the Actors Studio

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Interview

Al Pacino wouldn’t be an actor without the Actors Studio

The organization celebrates its 75th anniversary on October 27 and Pacino is the host.

Al Pacin.


Long before Al Pacino was Al Pacino, he was a struggling New York actor, entrenched in the downtown theater scene and busying himself with odd jobs to pay the bills. One of the first steps on his road to becoming a Tony, Oscar and Emmy winning icon was the Actors Studio.

“If you were a young actor, that’s where you wanted to go,” says Pacino. The longtime actor admits his profession started almost as a lark. He started playing at school to get out of his most boring classes. “I never thought it was going to happen. I kept doing it, and then finally one day, a long time ago, I thought, ‘I can express myself here.’ He also adds that playing “saved my life”.

Pacino loves the Studio so much that he is now co-president of the Actors Studio alongside Ellen Burstyn. The Actors Studio celebrates its 75th anniversary with the screening of the Oscar-winning film dog afternoon, followed by a live interview with Pacino. The event will take place on October 27 at the United Palace in New York. VIP tickets include premium seating and a backstage meet and greet with Pacino after the screening.

The Studio was founded in 1947 by three members of the Group Theatre: Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford and Robert Lewis. It was founded as an artistic home for actors, writers and directors to work on their craft without the commercial pressures of success. Legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg became manager in 1951. The Mid-Century roster is not only a who’s who of Hollywood celebrities, but also contains names that seemed to redefine the American actor. The era shifted from the mid-Atlantic accented pattern of Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant to the more natural, effortless deliveries of Marlon Brando and James Dean. Other Actors Studio members include Eli Wallach, Jane Fonda, Robert De Niro, Ellen Burstyn, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Anne Bancroft and, of course, Pacino.

“By the time I got there it had become very popular,” Pacino said. Studio membership is free, but an audition is required, and Pacino admits he even had to audition twice before being accepted in 1966: “It was a glorious feeling. I had almost never felt anything like this. For the young Pacino, the Studio became an artistic home in a tough city for young actors, where “you’re lucky if you don’t have to pay to act”.

Pacino speaks reverently of the Studio, as an artistic institution where his creative work has led to self-discovery. “I could try things that I knew I would never have the opportunity to do in the professional world,” he says. “I was able to play roles that I would never have imagined playing without the pressure of having to succeed, or having to do something in such a way that it would be applauded. It was about developing , to discover and to seek.

One such role was King Oedipus in Sophocles’ Greek tragedy, which Pacino played at the Studio with a young Dianne Wiest and Estelle Parsons. “I would never think of doing Oedipus,” he said. “To make OedipusI would have to go downtown and find a theater to do it, and the performances would have to be limited.

The 75th anniversary event and Pacino’s participation stem from his admiration for the Studio and his deep love for his craft. “I love performing in front of the audience. I love the excitement it brings,” he says. energy, the sense of a piece, the excitement of it.

Pacino laughs a bit at the idea of ​​a perk for actors: “I think people are like, ‘What is this Actors Studio? A lot of actors go there to work and I’m going to pay for that?’ But the Studio, beyond its community of actors, writers and directors, also provides financial support to its members through various memorial funds. And what he also does is teach young actors to dig into the material and try unconventional approaches, like the way a young Pacino spoke up when he played Hamlet opposite Meryl Streep in the 1970s.

“I don’t think Hamlet was my role, I have to be honest. Hamlet talks to the ghost, and I remember saying to [director] Joseph Papp, ‘I’m not interested in talking to my dad right now as a ghost. I want to save this. I’m interested in talking to my dad before he becomes a ghost. Shortly after, I got fired,” Pacino laughs.

“But that wouldn’t happen if I was at the Actors Studio,” Pacino says of his artistic home, where exploration is always encouraged.

For tickets and more information on the 75th anniversary screening of dog afternoon with Al Pacino, click here.

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