Thursday, June 11, 2020

The question rarely asked of Al Pacino

I asked all the people in classes with me, “Who’s the greatest stage performer of all time?” and they all said, “Al Pacino.”

Obviously, I needed to meet Al Pacino. I just needed to figure out how to make that happen.

A couple of days later, I was having dinner with a friend. Anna Strasberg, Lee Strasberg’s widow, was in the restaurant. My friend knew Anna and introduced me to her. So I did what I do, which is ask questions.

Here’s the widow of the best acting coach in the world—of course I was going to learn whatever I could. How could I be the best? What should I do? What would Lee have told me to do?

Turned out Anna liked me because I asked all these questions about how to improve my acting. It also turned out that Al Pacino is the godfather for her two sons. When I heard that, I immediately asked for an introduction to him. I told Anna that I wanted what Al Pacino had. I wanted to be the best stage actor, so I needed to find out what he did.

Anna agreed to introduce us, which is how I ended up playing touch football in the snow with her two sons and Al Pacino and then went to his house, where he spent three hours breaking down the next fifteen years for me.

I told Al, “All the kids in my acting classes tell me you’re the best stage actor of our time. I want that. Can you tell me how to do that?”

And he said, “Yeah, I can tell you. But you might not like the answer, because it’s going to take you fifteen years.”

I said, “Cool. I work really well with that sort of timeline.” Obviously, Al didn’t know about my crayon-and-paper twenty-year plan. Fifteen years would be a snap.

Al Pacino told me I had to get onstage—any stage, anywhere, as often as I could. We spent three hours playing pool and laying out a road map for my success.

And at the end, I thanked him, and I said, “You must get this sort of question all the time from actors.”

“No, you’re the first,” he said. “I have actors ask me how to get famous, or can I get them a part, or can I introduce them to my agent. You’re the only one who’s ever asked how to be the best.”
Source: There's No Plan B for Your A-Game by Bo Eason

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