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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  June 11, 2015 12:00am-1:01am PDT

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>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, a conversation with one of the world's greatest actors, al pacino. >> it's a form of speaking acting. when i first started, i think what kept me an actor was when i realized that i could speak through this-- through this venue and that i could speak about things in life that i couldn't speak about before. i just didn't know how. i couldn't find the words. but the playwright allowed me to express something. >> rose: al pacino for the hour, next.
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>> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: al pacino is here. he is an oscar tony and emmy award-winning actor. lee straussberg the long- time director of the actor's studio once said of him: some actors play characters. al pacino becomes them. here a look at just some of his work. >> i needed it. >> i take you back and you steel my -- >> i was going to go out and score for you. >> i love you. >> if you love me -- >> i was going to did out and score for you. >> reality is that we do not wash our own laundry. it just gets dirtier.
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>> are you in trouble! >> i don't care if i'm in trouble. i don't care without et gos it any more including myself. because if i have to go to outside agencies-- to get somebody to hear my story, where in i going to go. where am i going to go? >> i know it was you, fredo. you broke my heart. you broke my heart. >> get over there, will you? >> he wants to kill me so bad he can taste it! atica! atica! atica! atica! >> do you want to play rough? say hello to my little friend. >> you want to learn the first rule, you would know if you ever spent a day in your life. you never open your mouth till you know what the shot is.
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>> there was a time i could see, and i have seen. boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out their legs ripped off. but there is nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit. there is no prosthetic for that. >> if it's between you and some poor bastard whose wife you're going to turn into a widow, brother, are you going down. >> this guy is a top scientist in the number tobacco company in america. he's a corporate officer. you never get whistle-blowers from fortune 500 companies. this guy is the ultimate insider. he's got something to say. he wants to say it. i want it on "60 minutes." >> you may call it mercy killing. i call it something else. i call it a medical service for an incureably suffering patient. that's what i call it.
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>> rose: over the years, many of his contemporaries have spoken about him on this show. >> it is almost impossible almost impossible for him to do anything false. he doesn't know how to. the lines will go. he won't be able to get out of a chair. there's a line of truth in it that's inviolate. and where you really see it to it's magazine any sense, in the "godfather." >> he knows where the camera is, every mark, every hit he hits the mark. never fails. you know. he knows what-- the cutting, the editing. and then within that very structured form which film is, very, you know very tight, he is utterly free and it's just so inspiring to be around. >> rose: pacino has also inspired a younger generation of actors.
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>> i am a shy person and i used to be really self-conscious and insecure and had difficulty like, really standing up and speaking for myself. and he is a great cheerleader. my very first audition, my callback that he was at, i just started reading from the play. and as i was acting, i could hear "oh wow! oh my god!" like, i could hear him in the audience saying all these things, that made me feel like yes! i'm doing great! and working with him on that making that movie-- it still has not come out-- making that movie, he's been such a great teacher for me for film. >> i'm watching pacino, i'm watching pacino in the sense of when i first met him, i was a little in awe of him because i had to go meet him
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at shutters on the beach. >> a hotel in santa monica. >> or some place. and as i walked in, i said i'm getting ready to go meet scar father. i ran them together i was so nervous. he was sitting under the dim light in the corner. and people came as if they were giving, like giving a sacrifice, mr. foxx, mr. pacino. and the walk was like oh, man, an when i get there shall like godfather and scar face, scar father, it was all put together. and i said, "mr. pacino, hi i'm jamie foxx." >> hey, you like cran berry juice. >> i was like cranberry juice? he just opened up and made me feel comfortable as a person. >> this past january pacino starred in a film adaptation of philip roth's novel "the humling." >> hello! >> oh, hey. look at this! >> this is emily.
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>> emily. >> beauty, let me take that. >> thank you. >> oh, oh, oh my god. are you hurt? are you okay? >> yeah. >> oh no look at what happened to him. >> what's in here? >> some of my things, isn't it, baby? some of my things. >> you know, i was thinking don't you think it's time you told your parents about us? >> in a film just released called danny collins, pacino plays an aging rock star who receives a letter from john lennon and decides to change his life. ( cheers and applause ) >> hello l.a.! >> you got to choose your friends danny! >> surprise! >> oh, no way. you don't surprise a guy my age. you'll give me a heart attack. >> do you remember an interview when you were a kid, "time" magazine. >> you write like lennon man. >> john lennon read it.
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and he wrote you a letter in 1971. >> can you believe it! >> dude, danny collins, stay true to yourself, stay true to yourself. stay true to your music. my phone number is below. we can discuss this. i'm a joke. i haven't written a song in 30 years. >> i'm having a breakdown. i'm broken. i'm broken. ain't noct left to break. what would have happened if i got that letter when i was supposed to. i want to cancel the rest of the tour. i need a plane. jersey. >> welcome to the hilton. look who it is. >> i see. so you're staying indefinitely here? >> are you on drugs? >> currently or in general. >> currently. >> nope. dinner? >> you're asking me to dinner. >> i think so. >> i'm going to have to decline. >> you're not a fan. >> currently or in general. >> in general. >> no. >> but we have good pata. why new jersey? >> i'm meeting someone for the first time. how do i look? >> well, you look slightly ridiculous. >> nah. see you at 7:00. >> no, you won't.
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you expect it to be easy meeting your grown son for the first time. >> hello. >> hello. >> why are you here? >> i'm just making some in my life. >> in a few minutes my husband will walk through that door and this will be the last time i see you. >> you have every right to be angry. >> i'm not angry. have a good life. >> family can be messy but you shouldn't give up. >> i haven't written anything in a long time. >> you're nervous? >> yes,. >> i love that. >> i spent my entire life trying to become the man you aren't. >> i don't know what to say? >> i don't need you to say anything, man. i just need to you leave. >> you're going to have to deal with it because i'm here. ♪ we all shine on. like the moon and the stars and the son ♪ >> you can't buy redemption. >> dinner tomorrow. >> you know what i like about you?
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you never give up. >> some dinners are worth fighting for. ♪ we all shine on ♪ >> rose: danny collins terrific cast. >> never saw that. yeah, what a cast. >> rose: when you see that montage, what do you think about this career and acting that you have had and continue to have? >> it baffles me. it's-- you know, you spend your life just moving on you know. it's one of the-- one of the perks but also one of the issues you have when you are with a group of people and are you with them and you are in a company. and you know, we all sort of feel that way. actors, they're transient, you know. >> rose: somebody once said gypsies, all actors are gypsies. >> they are. they have that in their spirit. so when i look at things i've done before, there is a
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certain-- mercifully, there is a distance you have. and you look at it and say it's all part of, if you want to call it development or you want to even call it-- i remember cassan, they had a special evening for cassan, and they showed all the movies he did, and he said, "wow, how am i still walking around? how does this happen?" i remember once they did one for me, actually. and i went up there and i thought there's no rehab in this-- where is the time i was in rehab. i never was in rehab, you know. >> rose: but the question posed in john lennon's letter "danny collins," stay true to your zchl you have stayed true to yourself for the post part, haven't you? >> well, you know, i guess so, here and there. i veered off, i think. i don't know.
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i don't make those kinds of-- don't-- i done think of myself as that at all, that i'm being true to myself. i can feel when i'm not. i can feel that i've gone off the track. >> rose: in your personal life or in the performance? >> in both. more in the performance than personal life. personal life is a little bit too random for me in the way, in how-- i mean i'm playing characters who have lived these lives around the world and stuff. and gone through, you know, the accessibility of things in our life, in our world you know, that you travel in. >> rose: do you keep saying yes to parts? i mean you've got these two movies coming out and others. you keep saying yes, and yet the questions when i see him making a movie, i want to walk theother way. >> that's true, i do. i think i've gotten out of something when i am finished with it. when i see i'm on the street and i see people with the campers and they've got the wires on the floor and the cameras, i just-- i just go to the other side. because i feel as though, i know what they're going through. i know the-- it's different
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when you direct a movie because are you in every part of it. and it's also different for an actor who you prepare for a movie. because there's the rehearsal period which we don't have enough of in film today. but the old movies early on movies i did in the '70s, we had really substantial rehearsal periods. to develop characters and relationships with other actors and here you are just-- so in this movie, we had no rehearsal in "danny collins." so we would pete-- . >> rose: because of the budget. >> yeah, that's what it is. that's the budget. is the budget is what we're always facing. and we would rehearse at my house on weekends to get what we could. because it's-- . >> rose: but why do you do it? because you love it? because it is who you are? it is-- i once said to a
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fighter, i said, why do you do it? you've made all the money in the world. you have a great family. you have all the things that anybody would aspire to. international fame and he said, "charlie, it's what i do. do." >> rose: it's what i do. >> yeah. >> rose: i'm a fighter. and you would say i am-- i'm an actor. it's what i do. >> it's funny. you have the text. you see, i live by the text. the play is the thing, and when i see that text i don't want to act, for instance, i don't want to do it, i mean i don't want to -- >> you don't need to be in movies. >> i don't need it. i don't think i need it until i read it, you know, and then-- and, of course, the process and it's ever changing because you know there's a time when you want to do something because it challenges you. and you feel you'll learn something from it and you'll do it and you can fall flat on your
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face and there's that. but mostly you're trying to evaluate things in your life. and deal with the very-- i have children and things. things come up. but at the same time, that script, you know, i read a script the other day. i won't say what it is. but i hadn't read anything. and, oh, they pull me back in kind of thing. >> rose: because you think about where i could do with this character, you think about the excitement of getting inside of the character? >> yeah, it's the world a writer creates. it's the text. it's oh, what an opportunity. i have an opportunity to do this again. and there's something about the homelessness thing is what i do, like you said, it's almost an obligation to get involved in it, i feel. >> rose: that this is for you. i can-- as they say in business, add value to this. >> yes. or i can find something in a thing that i'm doing that
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relates to something inside of me that i've been wanting to express or talk about in some way. it's a form of speaking to acting. when i first started, i think what kept me an actor was when i realized that i could speak through this venue, and that i could speak about things in life that i couldn't speak about before. i just didn't know how. i couldn't find the words. but the playwright allowed me to express something. >> rose: the coming together of the actor and the text. the actor and the words give you the possibility to make it something bigger than even the writer intended. >> that's right. >> rose: that's what an actor adds. >> and to move on from a life you know to a life you may not know and find out about it and get a sense that you're involved in something that is-- that's bigger than your life.
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the "humling," philip roth 209 novel. you liked it. >> i liked it, yes. >> rose: what attracted you to it in terms of, as an actor, did you see there things that you have thought about, things that -- >> well, yeah, i thought that-- >> rose: losing your skills in a sense. >> well, yeah, i-- >> rose: how did you see it? >> well, i saw it as a potential movie. at a certain point in life you know, there are certain things you can't do any more. you know, your age comes in and you're trying to find something that is suitable, that is appropriate. >> rose: that happens to everybody. >> yeah, i hope. >> rose: it does. i mean, i see people every day without are athletes. >> the athletes, is more obvious because-- the actor, they have, you know, the grandfather slots. >> rose: the interesting thing about acting is it is a bit like people who say
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you shouldn't read tolstoy until you're 30 because you won't fully understand it. >> they say you shouldn't do hamlet until you are at least 40, except you've got to do hamlet earlier because-- no, because you won't do it if you wait until 40. you will learn too much and know it's impossible. so the best thing is to get in there. i love when young actors do it. i didn't do it. i never felt i was right for hamlet. i loved the play. probably my favorite play of all shakespeare. >> rose: and you never did it. >> i never did it i did scenes from it. i just didn't feel i could exist this that play is in the way i-- i thought like other people have, that when i get older i will understand it more. there's a question of understanding it as an audience and understanding it as an artist. and that's the separation for me. >> rose: was it elia kazan who once had you do a read ago. >> that was strasberg. glfs it?
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i was afraid to do anything. i was very young. i got into the actors' studio at a very young age and i just sat around there and watched them. and then i would go home. but throughout my life i had learned, i committed to memory certain monologues that i liked. >> rose: you were almost a teenager then, weren't you? >> well, i was in my early 20s. and so i thought, gee, i have got these monologues in me, great eugene o'neill monologues. from "the iceman cometh." and i had the wonderful rogue what a rogue and peasant slave am i, you know, from shakespeare. and i had them committed to my mind. and so i went up for the first time. i was sitting there, six months. finally i got up the nerve to sign up for the, annually straussberg looks at the paper and says-- i love that he was able to pronounce my name-- al pacino. most people said pi-keany.
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he said al pacino. >> yes. >> what's this? hamlet? and "the iceman cometh." okay. let's see, you know. we take all kinds in here. so i got up there and i did a ferocious rogue and peasant. and then i went wild with the, you know, the eugene o'neill-- >> rose: were you playing hickey. >> right. and i was really giving it the old gung-o, stepping on the gas and stuff. wasn't really that good. and it was over. and he was looking at me. and the audience got kind of cheery about it because i had a lot of commitment and energy, and i was young. and he said, "listen al" here is what i would like to do, immediately, this was the genius with him. he said i want to you do hamlet as hickey from the iceman cometh. and-- hickey as hamlet. and what i did was immediately went into it. and he was very happy about that. i didn't pause and say well,
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what do you mean. i just switched it. >> rose: so you had the character of hamlet and the text of hickey. >> yes. and then the text of hamlet and hickey as hamlet. >> rose: as the presence he had. >> i learned more that day than i have in my entire life. >> rose: the first line of philip's book is called "he lost his magic." do you fear that? >> oh my, you can imagine. to know that you -- see as you get older too, that the stamina to do, especially what this character does in the humling. he does theater. so you know, that's an eight performances a week job doing this enormous roles. i don't know if you ever saw the movie, the dresser. >> oh, yes. >> they don't even know what character they are playing. they did three a day. so we do one a day. however, the exhaustion and the tools you have as an
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actor, which is your own energy, your own appetite, because i don't think you get up there and do king lear if you don't have an appetite. it's just impossible to do. there are certain things we can do if we don't feel like it. but you have to find it somewhere. you can't do lear if you don't-- you can't like walk through it. maybe if you are doing a movie of it, it's possible. but-- >> rose: not in one sustained performance. >> no, no, you can't. >> rose: do you want to do lear? >> no, not particularly. >> rose: not yet or not ever. >> no, there's another one that i-- actually i have had offers to do it all the time as a movie. i could see myself possibly doing it one day as a movie possibly. because it's great, of course. but i haven't found my way to lear. and i don't think it's my role. >> rose: but you love richard. >> i love richard. richard i could possibly do again. i did a reading of it-- actually
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i was at philadelphia philharmonic. i was doing, i was hosting believe it or not, the 158th anniversary of the theater there. it was a wonderful thing with a great orchestra. and i was the emcee of the thing-- i don't know how that happened. >> rose: it's not easy. >> no, and i found myself doing it, and was really mainly talking about the first time i heard serious music or classical music remember the old lewiston stadium here. >> rose: oh, sure. >> i heard stravinsky "rite of spring," i was there when strabinski himself conducted it and that was-- we were talking about inspiring moments. i will never forget that. and we were talking about or the first time. and anyway i did richard. i did several poems by ee cummings with the music behind me. so this was a new experience. i loved it.
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i thought maybe i should do this. actors do, chris plumber does it from time to time. so i did richard, and my great friend charlie lawton had told me -- he passed on a couple of years ago. before he-- he and i were talking and he said you know you should try richard again. i am seeing things in you now. and i said, yes, i wonder why he said that. then i went to philadelphia and two years later, i'm up there doing richard. and it was so different. it was so much a part of me in a way. and i added something. >> rose: richard hadn't changed, you changed. >> i have changed, yes. you know what i used to do with richard when i was first in boston. i was young, early 30s. this was me doing richard. i would be in the dressing room. and we were-- i was in the rectory because we did it in the church. the church of the coventry was
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the only time we really got it a little bit. it was in the midst of real turmoil in my life. hi just become a kind of movie star and i was drinking. i was in this state constantly. so before i would go on and i would come out of the pulpit, i can just say now is the wirnteder, over a microphone in this church. >> now is the winter -- >> but i wouldn't go out. i would stay in the dressing room which was in the recognize ory. and i had this girl, i won't mention her name but she was spunky girl very young apprentice. i think she was at harvard. she was so smart and so much fun to be with. but she was just my assistant. and i so would be there in the rectory making up for richard. and she would come in and say it's, you know, five minutes out. five minutes. i say well, doesn't matter what it is. i would say, this would happen every night. she would say what do you
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mean? i would say i'm not doing it. i said i'm not doing it tonight. she says oh no, no, no, no. you have to do it they're out. i said no, you know. you know i'm not doing it you are not going to make me do this. she said i'm to the going to make you. oh, yes, i am. i said stay away from me. she said no, no, no, you're going on that stage. i say stay away. you do it. and we would have this huge fight and all of a sudden i would hear, "places!" and i would go off into it now that's preparation is. >> rose: you were ready to go. >> i was ready to go then. i don't know what kind of preparation is that i never heard of that. but the point is you get it when you can. it comes to you in the moment. >> rose: and you have to find it? >> yeah. and i think-- at least when you are doing-- i would call the richard idea the church of the covenant i would call that inspired richard. after that i think the richard i did was basically a lot of it by the numbers. a lot of it trying to remember what i had done before. and it didn't have the same flavor. it didn't have the same-- it wasn't coming from the same place of expression, so to
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speak. >> rose: in inhabiting a character, do you have to find a hook for you? do you have to find something about the character that i'm going-- someone once said-- i think this may have been olive a-- "when i put on the suit i know who the character is," or something like that. >> it does help. >> rose: when you're unlocking the character, because you're going to inhabit the character what do you look for? anything other than what the text says to you? >> well, yeah. you look for-- um-- that thing that-- that moves you. i don't know what it is. i like repetition. there's a saying that goes, "repetition, repetition keeps me green." >> rose: yes. >> i love that saying. >> rose: "repetition keeps me green. >> "keeps me green," fresh. the idea that we do performances over and over again. you say doesn't that get boring or stale?
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no? it's in the repetition that the creation comes, that the expression comes. because-- i'll give an example i was doing richard once-- not particularly well-- and the show was anything on, and we couldn't get this court scene with a lot of people in it. i didn't understand what i was doing in the scene. so we would call rehearsals. we would rehearse it and stuff and talk about it think about, it you know, like all this kind of work where people together are trying to figure out something. is it theand the 85th performance of richard on my 85th entrance, i knew the court scene. i understood it. i was there. i could play it. >> rose: the butt not in 84. >> not in 84. i might have been getting close and didn't realize it. i gave you want ghost, i guess. i just gave it up and said, "screw it. it's not going to happen,," and just keep going on and i got it.
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remember the great actor sam levine? i was watching the roim family once in the theater and sam levine comes in, comes in-- just opens the doors and comes in. and i was a young actor at the time and i thought, wow! as soon as i saw that i said whoa! >> rose: that's an entrance. >> it wasn't an entrance. it was something else. it was a gift. he was opening the doors to something spectacular with light in it and everything and energy and joy. and you know what it was? >> rose: what? >> he's done it for 50 years. >> rose: yes exactly. yes. >> so that's a big thing. >> rose: did you ever use that yourself in terms of request performance. >> i put a lot of stock in that. i've done performances and they just got worse until they got better. >> rose: because you're searching? >> here's the thing i did in "american buffalo yes once when i was doing it. i did it all over the world. and at first i remember people talk about wow you know, guto see al and he's like a tiger. he struts back and forth like a
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leopard in a cage or something." i thought that was very nice. ask probably that's what i was doing for a while. and i no longer-- after doing it for four years on and off i found myself in boston at-- i think it was the curran theater there. and we were doing this-- or was is san francisco? no boston at the wilbur, that's right. and i came out and i say the opening sill we in "american buffalo" beautifully written by david mamet. and i come, in the whole thing and i'm on stage for about 10 minutes-- that's a long time, right? and i realized i hadn't moved. i hadn't moved from the spot. so what happened is economy came. that thing came. it wasn't there for years. and then it just came. that's what i mean about -- >> but some people say that the act of art is as in sculpture is
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getting it down to a size. it's taking a role or taking-- or a painting. it is in a sense defining it down to where it works for you. >> that's right. >> rose: stripping away. >> stripping away. >> rose: so that what you see is the essence of a character of a scene. >> you see it in sports a lot too. you say "he didn't do anything. he didn't do anything." so, of course, it's what you go for. glu mentioned david mamet. what is it about the two of you? you're going to be with him again in a new flay playgee, a new play is coming out in the fall. i don't know. >> rose: is it that his words speak to you? is it he has a sense of a character? >> he understands-- he presents a world in a way and i think he-- he and i just hear it-- like, for instance, we're colleagues this play he's doing collaborating, of course, he's doing all the work, but i'm there. you know it's good to have
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someone-- even for him to bounce off. so i'm-- i'm home thinking about something. so i see him a few days later air, week later, and he's written down what i was thinking about. so i think okay, just go with that. just go with that. and i don't know why -- >> the power of observation. >> wow. so it was just-- he's such a-- you know to call him a great writer is, of course, is a redundancy. but at the same time he surprises me because he understands-- you know, he was an actor too. like i believe shakespeare was an actor. >> rose: "merchant of venice you love." you've done that more than once. >> i was in the movie. >> rose: i know. >> and then i did the play. >> rose: i know. >> and i knew the great dan sullivan director wanted me to play him. and i thought, yes. this is the time to play it because i learned about it in
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the movie a certain way and i took a tack on it, because it's a movie. with theater you can explore more, i think. movies pretty much-- it's hard to explore. >> rose: you can explore night to night too, can't you? >> yes, of course. but i knew it would be a different shilock. so it was a great adventure for me to do that part, i'm very grateful -- >> do you want to do "macbeth?" >> i've been told about that a lot, too. >> rose: i know. >> i can't even mention the name, you know, you're not supposed to. >> rose: it's an old-- a myth of the theater that you cannot mention the name. >> yeah. i love the play, of course. who wouldn't? but i don't know. i think that's another one that's been shelved for me. it's just great but -- >> what cels on that list? >> well, i guess-- maybe doing richard again, if the-- i wanted
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to play otello. that's a part i wanted to play. >> rose: you said "wanted." do you still want? >> i wanted to play it it-- the thing is, the cart is before the horse. sometimes you just get it and you go. to sit around wanting it-- you know, in my off time, for years what i'd do-- i mean, i practically know-- it's the longest written part in shakespeare is yago. and i know hamlet and i know the parts. i know the words. i know the text. >> rose: because practice-- >> i practice it. of course, everything changes when you get in the real-- it's like shadow boxing until you get in the ring. it's a different story, and then you-- i love the idea of driving a car-- lee strasberg would talk about it. you have no car you have key you haven't gotten in it yet.
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i say i can do this. and turn the key and the car goes, and pretty soon you're like oh, man! what is this? and you're duck cars and going on the sidewalk. and that's the difference between rehearsing alone and then getting in there with other people. but at least you get a familiarity with it, because i love the the plays. i love doing it. i love learning. it. it's just fun to say some of those words gling you almost dropped out of high school, department you? >> i did drop out of high school. >> rose: to go act. >> actually, i went to work. i went to work because i-- we needed money in my family, and so i -- >> it was an economic necessity. >> economic necessity at the time. but i did go to the village age 17, and i did-- i was really fed by all of that, that was going on in the 60s and that i was-- the coffee houses in the village, and doing 16 shows a week of whatever play, and passing the straw basket around,
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the audience would drop something in twe'd each! >> rose: charles laughton. >> my friend. >>. >> rose: yu friend. what's the nature of the friendship? >> you could call it symbiotic, but at the same time menton. >> rose: how did it start? >> i was 17, and he was teaching at h.p. studios. and he was a student of lee strasberg. great people. and i was there as a kid-- a teenager, really. anyway i heard about him but i took one look at this guy and i knew it was-- i came from that. there was a familiarity. >> rose: i want to talk about some of the things you have done. i know you talked about this before, but i mean, when you did requested dog day"dog day afternoon" did you know you and sidney created something? >> it was interesting because we
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were doing it, and i remember saying-- we rehearsed for a long time. and then i remember as charlie once said well, you know, with this picture, you pull the pin let it go. because as-- as-- as sidney said to me, he said, "it has its own life al." while we were shooting it. he said, "it has a life of its own." i thought yeah, wow. i couldn't tell because i would be-- marty bergman, very wisely i i was drinking in those days too. put kind of an apartment under the bank, and both me and judith would be hitting on weed back-- judith melina-- she played by mymother-- they were all upstairs and i was downstairs alone and-- and-- because sidney moved. first of all we had rehearsed for a month, so he just moved the actors along. he was all about-- pretty much
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about performance and stuff. but when i would-- when i would go up there and, you know-- and i was again it absorbed me. but when i had to have a re-shoot, i came back to the bank and sidney wanted me to reshoot because he sort of saw after the last shot, the fellow that i was channeling in some way-- whatever that character was-- evaporated. just went out of me like that. was gone. and then when i had to come back, i had to recreate something because we had to reshoot something. i couldn't get it. i couldn't get it. >> rose:s in the akin to the idea of how long does an actor take a part with him? does it stick with you for a week or a month or-- >> well, when i was younger -- >> and once it evaporates suppose you have to reshoot, you can recapture askt?
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>> i think things have changed for me now. i think doing it so long i let it go relatively easy. >> rose: just let it go. >> yeah. >> rose: not hard to do, just let it go. >> i used to go back when i was younger i would go back, we were in boston, and i just went in the dressing room when i would leave the part and i would say "i'm going now so you gotta move oso i'm going to leave you here, "and hummel would say to me," i'm all right. i do all right." that was a line from the play. >> rose: oh, yeah, yeah. >> and that was kind of thing-- i had to literally do that. but it does-- it does stick with you. "godfatherrer" stuck request me for a while there that part, that kind of place i had to go to, especially really the first two. >> rose: you didn't see hip as a gangster did you? >> i never saw him as a gangster. >> rose: you say him as-- >> i saw him as someone who
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inherited this thing and this was there. >> rose: did not want to expect to be there at an earlier time this his life. >> no. >> rose: but then understood that it was his responsibility to family and to-- >> yeah. it was his destiny. >> rose: destiny. >> yeah. i always felt bad about him. i thought he-- he had certain ingredients that would allow him to do what he did but-- and his father saw that in him early on, and that's a long story with that one. because i never wanted to play that part. i didn't-- i didn't-- that was francis that got me to do it. he got me to do it. he wanted me to play that part. >> rose: he fought for you too, didn't he? >> fought for me, completely fought for me, to such a degree it was like-- i kept saying, "francis it's all right. i'll do other things." i was afraid of the role, by the way, just for -- >> some actors say that's good is when they're afraid of the role. >> it is, yeah. >> rose: that's the best thing
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they can have. if they're not afraid of it, some tell me, they don't really want to do the part. >> yeah. >> rose: it has to scare them to be motivated to do it. >> well, that's certainly helped me with that, but like when anyone sees you in a role, you go through a period where you become well known or you become what is known as "bankable "you start to-- it's dubious because you don't know whether somebody wants you because they see you in the part or because you can bank the movie and you can get confused by that. so sometimes you do roles but the best time is when a director wants you. >> rose: how well did you know marlon brando? >> well enough to love him. i knew-- i didn't know him as well as other people have. i found him to be the most-- the kind of sensitivity where he can sort of feel you. he feels your-- your stuff and
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he-- he gets very concerned. he was concerned about me because at the time, there was so much controversy, and that i was going to -- >> this is after "godfather." >> no, while we were shooting it. >> rose: he was concerned about you. >> because he came up to me once and just was doing my shoulders just giving me a little massage on my shoulders because he knew that i was going to go. i was-- i was a man who didn't have long left for the set because francis wanted me. the studio didn't. they didn't want brando, either. brando, you know. but me, it didn't matter. they just-- they were just shocked that francis wanted me. >> rose: did francis bring in panic-- >> "the panic in needle park," i don't know if you saw it? >> yes. >> jerry schatzberg, he was a photographer, too, right? >> yes.
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>> rose: francis brought them in. >> brought eight minutes from "the panic in needle park" and showed it to them, and that got me in. and then i started -- you know, there are scenes-- see the part of michael corleone is sort of built. it's constructed in such a way that it starts almost like kind of a shadow and turns into this presence. and that was the way i thought of getting final-- finally getting to that, so by the time you see him in the end he is a kind of an enigma, and that's part of the power of him. we don't know where he came from. so it has that feeling to it it. it's almost mythical. >> rose: does it make you like "2" better than "1?" "godfather 2?" >> i like them both. one has the story, the original it's a great story. "2" has francis' story, i think.
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he talks about himself in that movie, you know. a lot of him is in it, a lot of his personal feelings he gets out about himself and everything. and that's what gives it that power. >> rose: i always wanted to ask you this. brandbrando became interested in this show and he would watch it all the time and he would call me up and he would send me notes and he would call himself "brand flakes." >> i heard that. >> rose: what was his gift? >> that's hard to define it. the genius of character, i guess. that's all i could say. i don't mean to be-- put he-- but he did cross that line where he had the great beauty as a inform star. >> rose: right? >> and he was a character actor. one of few. you can paul muni before, that a great actor. but never did you have a movie star it's great movie stars and great actors include gary cooper and cary grant wonderful to
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watch. but marlon was a character actor and that means that he playd roles that were different from each other very distinctly different from each glrg and how you have managed to be a star to this day and not playing character roles as much as you're playing stars. you're at the center of these two films. >> well, again i'm going by the. >> rose: is it box office? >> what i'm feeling. >> rose: is it an-- you tell me. >> i think it's always been-- you know some movies i've made that aren't character driven different characters i play, i don't know. i find it-- it's a mystery to me it really is, a mystery that i'm actually here talking to you, and that i am still doing this thing. but i-- i started early, too. as an actor.
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and i was-- i was seen in new york in a play called "the indian wants the bronx." >> rose: the indian-- >> the indian wants the bronx. and i got an obe award that year. and it was faye dunaway who saw me in this play and told marty bergman -- >> a great producer. >> a great producer. and i made movies with him. there was something in that play-- it's a beautiful play. john cassale was in it, too. and i had been acting maybe 10 years before that. so i was quite young. mid-20s. and it just started to sail along. and i did feel, oddly enough when i talked about it, that i went from being this explorer in my work in a way experimenting and trying to learn more about the classics and myself in connection to it and doing things i got a lot of joy out
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of that. i was in a place called the actor's gallery in soho, which nobody could even find in those days. but as i said, the continuing in the village and all. and then to finally be lauded in a way and suddenly everything upped the stakes. and the star thing came in. and name above the title came in. and somehow i was sort of trying to preserve something i thought i understood earlier on because i then found myself in another world, which i liked. i thought it was a good thing. and i still think it was a good thing. it was a lucky thing. things happen that way sometimes. there was a-- maybe something happened that was somewhat new. a new kind of person that wasn't-- wasn't comparable to other things people were
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seeing-- came out of the 60s. came out of this time in america where people like me were being given an opportunity whatever. i don't know. it was a combination of things. i remember one time i did a scene, charlie,ing we had this scene in the berg dorph studio. i'll never forget this, i saw him on his death bed night and i said to hip "charlie remember the time when they were doing this big thing and i was one of the scenes in the school and every teacher brought their student in that they wanted to show their work, how they were doing. and i went into this thing and i did this scene. i said and remember when i came to scene, you charlie grabbed me and said, "good stuff al, good stuff."
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and then the teacher got up and went crazy against me. thought it was the worst. said "who do you think you are luther adler? you come up here. you do this." and i was thinking what is this about? and i told charl nethe hospital, i asked him, do you remember that time" -- >> this was on his death bed. >> yes. i said, "what was that? why was he doing that? why did he get so upset?" he said, "he saw a new time air new era." and i thought, that that in some way-- i think it's very dramatic it hear that, i don't know that it's true. but i do know that it was interesting because that was happening. youun, it happens today too. something new comes along and it's either-- you know, we get used to it. in the old days actors had to be a certain-- pronounce things a certain way and be a certain height so they'd be seen in the audience. there was the-- i don't mean to cop pair myself with people like
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edmund keene but i-- i was always reading books about actors. about edwin booth i'd read about edmund keene and edmund keene came at a time-- he came from a whole other climate a whole other world and when he went on the stage it-- it was new. and i think there was something about the roles i played and the situation and the times we were in that connected, and i got lucky, really. and then it's been this thing all my life, and so i-- i have to say-- i know you've heard it a lot everybody says it but it's true-- it's luck and timing and i remember saying once to someone who said to me "al--" we're all together actors. i'm no better than anybody else, really in that way. because i've seen people do such great stuff. i wish i could do.
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but at the same time i remember this guy saying to me, "al you're doing so well--" this was a few years into it. "what is it? why do you" -- >> why you? >> why you in? why not me? i always wanted this. i want this stuff that you have. i said, "yeah you want it. i think i had to have it." >> rose: oh, wow. "had to have it." >> "had to have it." in a way that's an interesting distinction, you know. one doesn't know. i'm just mouthing now because i don't know. i just think that there was a period -- >> that you had to have it. >> i had to have it. and believe it or not, i could tell when something-- it's-- i knew at some point this was my time. i never thought it would turn into this naturally. but i knew it was my time they would be seen in some way that enough had happened and that
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this part in play-- you know, i went up to about i did two three plays there repertory. i went to do a part in a play, and i-- there's no way. they all wanted me-- they said, "you're going to be great for this part." i thought maybe i will be. but i got up and did it and it was not good at all. as a matter of fact, i remember that-- that-- that i was in the dressing room and somebody came down and i heard it on the speaker. it was my entrance was coming up. and this guy in the dressing room was really excited by this review he was reading of the play we were doing. and i said, "what's that?" and he tried to cover it. and i thought why is he covering it? i said, "can i see that, john?" he said, "yeah yeah, okay, here." and he pushed it over to me. and i looked at it, and i saw this great review, and this person, that person, how great with the one exception. ( laughter ) it was al pacino in the role of
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so-and-so was terrible. and i read that, and as i was reading it, my cue came on the speaker and i had to go on stage so i had to perform after reading that in the play he was criticizing me in. but i laughed. i think when a certain time the ability to look at something like that and laugh might have helped me a little bit. i don't i felt-- it hurt, it hurt. and another part i didn't want to do i was okay in. so it's-- it's always the question of what do we do? i mean, you know, you're walking along the street, you see a certain tree, you either take a picture of or you get the canvas out and you paint it. you never know when it's going to happen, you read a script-- with actors, if you don't try tyou're not going to know. and what happens is if you start to censor yourself, i think when you start science org yourself it gets a little-- because we don't know. i don't know -- >> yeah, but you've been willing
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to take risks. >> yeah. yeah. >> rose: you have to take risks. >> you have to, i think. a lot of people do. you have to finally take that risk. i took this risk with "danny collins" doing music singing. >> rose: i know, you're singing in "danny collins." >> yeah. singing in the rain. but it's okay. i hope i get by a little bit. but it's-- it's that i took it because the director really wanted me to do it. and when you think back, i took "godfather" because the director really wanted me on. >> rose: francis wanted. >> that's what he saw. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> great pleasure. nice to talk to you. >> rose: "the hum ling" and "danny collins." two proifies of an actor looking at their own life and where they are and what they might have missd missd and where they
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might go. thank you for joining us. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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>> rose: additional funding provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide.
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this is nightly business report with tyler mat and sue herera. >> stocks surge. the tou shoots hire, having is best day in a month but there's one sector investors are paying close attention to. >> pay raise. will millions of american workers become eligible for overtime pay? new rules expected soon, but businesses are already issuing a warning. >> not so sweet. should ads for sugary drinks have a warning likeand tobacco? a major city say yes. all that and more tonight on nightly business report for wednesday, june 10th. good evening everyone. i'm sharon