Al Pacino Looks Back at His Breakthrough Role in ‘The Godfather’

By | March 9, 2022

You remember the funeral scene for Marlon, when they put him down? It was over for the evening, the sun was going down. So, naturally, I’m happy ’cause I get to go home and have some drinks. I was on the way to my camper, saying, well, I was pretty good today. I had no lines, no obligations, that was fine. Every day without lines is a good day. So I’m going back to my camper. And there, sitting on a tombstone, is Francis Ford Coppola, weeping like a baby. Profusely crying. And I went up to him and I said, Francis, what’s wrong? What happened? He says, “They won’t give me another shot.” Meaning, they wouldn’t allow him to film another setup. And I thought: OK. I guess I’m in a good film here. Because he had this kind of passion and there it is.

Have you rewatched the film recently?

No. I might have seen it two, three years ago. It’s the kind of movie when you start watching it, you keep watching it.

Do you get self-conscious about watching your own films?

No. I enjoy watching movies I’ve been in. Sometimes I show them. I say, “Hey, come this way! Here it is! Hey, it’s me, yes! Take a look at this!” Well, I don’t go that far. But I would if I could. I think “The Godfather” plays no matter what. But you’re surprised when you realize how many people never saw it.

You’re encountering people who are aware of “The Godfather” as a cultural phenomenon but haven’t actually watched it?

They’ve heard about it. You get that. “Oh, I heard — were you in that? That was a film, wasn’t it?” Yes. So was “Citizen Kane,” by the way — I was in that, too. Why not? They don’t know.

Is there anything about your performance that you wish you could change now?

Maybe I’ve been spared. It’s like when I once lost my wallet in my early 20s. I had no money, but what I had, I had in my wallet and I lost it. I said, Al, you simply have to forget this. Put it out of your mind, OK? You know what will happen to you if you keep thinking about it. So, what I do is, I don’t think about it.

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