I personally believe that Al Pacino is the most versatile actor ever. Debuting at the age of 29 with a minor role in a 1969 film; Me, Natalie, Pacino has a career spanning over 51 years and counting! During his career he has played countless characters with utmost grace and exceptional acting.
Al never gives an average performance, but here are five of the most exceptionally amazing characters played by him. These are mainly based on my personal opinion.
Antonio Montana from ‘Scarface’
Let’s just cut to the chase, Al Pacino himself has admitted that Tony Montana is the favorite character which he played. The Cuban refugee who turned into a drug kingpin is the favorite of many including me, my father and my father’s younger brother. The way that Montana showed that even “bad guys” can have principles has made him one of the most influential gangster character in Hollywood. In a more positive light however, this film showed how things end up when the pride of power gets to your head.
No one could’ve played Montana nearly as good as Al Pacino. As the story proceeded we see Tony transcending into an extremely damaging person, not just to himself but to the ones closest to him. The way Pacino made that gradual change seem natural is just insane. His mildest expressions were enough to make someone fall in love with his acting. Pacino acts with every muscle and every gesture of his body which makes his performance look super natural and realistic. Tony Montana has to be hands down my favorite character that Pacino has played.
Colonel Frank Slade from “Scent of a Woman”
For this role, Pacino won an Oscar for the Best Actor and it was well-deserved. Col. Frank Slade is a retired Army Colonel who lost his sight in an accident. Colonel Slade spends the Thanksgiving weekend with a high-school student who signs up for the weekend job as the retired Army Officer’s caretaker. The level of depth in Colonel’s character is unbelievable and you can count on Pacino to handle the depth of a character by putting his soul into every scene, every dialogue and every expression.
Playing the role of a visually impaired person is exceptionally difficult. Pacino spent weeks with visually impaired people to understand the challenges and behavior much better. the way Al kept his pupils fixated to a certain point is the portrayal of the pinnacle of discipline and concentration. Apart from keeping up with the visually impaired look, Pacino also had to keep up with the behavior of the Colonel whhose basic nature was like a cocktail of aggression, depression, courage with a touch of optimism. Al totally deserved an Oscar for this performance which not any actor can do.
Michael Corleone from “The Godfather Movies”
We all know Michael Corleone and we all know how Pacino blew up in popularity after The Godfather (1972). We see much more of Michael in the second film which is considered to be the best out of the trilogy by many. The cool-headed Mafia boss is not an easy character to portray because most the times it’s just the facial expressions and eyes doing the acting. Michael’s character transforms slowly over the course of the three films.
Michael has all the leadership qualities that a Mafia boss requires and proves his worth to his family in the first film and later becomes the Head of the Family after Vito Corleone’s death. He is seen taking decisions with a steady mind and does not like to talk much. We can see how Pacino can go from a maniac drug kingpin like Montana to someone as calm as Michael effortlessly.
Lieutenant Vincent Hanna from “Heat”
Michael Mann’s Heat has to be one of the most beautifully created crime film. Al Pacino plays the role Lieutenant Vincent Hanna and I always think that this is the kind of role which Al can perform with no effort at all, as if it’s the way he is in real life, or maybe it’s his class acting that makes us feel that “Damn, he must really have that kind of behavior in real life cause this cannot be acting.” It’s too damn real.
Al Pacino knows how to wear his character’s skin. Vincent Hanna comes across as a snappy and loud-mouthed officer who wants to catch the criminals ASAP and doesn’t want anyone to waste his mother****ing time!
Frank Serpico from “Serpico”
Frank Serpico is also a pretty unique character played by Pacino. Frank was a cop in New York City who refused to take bribes unlike other crooked cops in his force. Pacino did an excellent performance and portrayed his character as an honest and courageous cop. The struggle for justice was quite long and the end was bittersweet.
Every aspect of his character spits simplicity and Pacino really showed the extent of the versatility in his acting. The police force saw him as a danger because of his honesty. Most of his time fighting crime was spent inside the force itself.