On December 27, CBS aired the 39th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, celebrating the careers and contributions of singer-songwriter James Taylor, pianist Martha Argerich, singer Mavis Staples, actor Al Pacino, and rock band The Eagles.
Each year, the Honors commemorates five artists with speeches and performances by their friends and fans in the industry. During the tribute to Al Pacino, two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey roasted his friend before breaking into a meaningful thank-you. Spacey broke down the three key steps to the perfect Pacino impression for the audience, which included President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, before pulling back to a serious note. “Look,” said Spacey, “the reason we all love to do an impersonation of Al Pacino is because he has created characters that are unforgettable, and that’s because for Al Pacino it’s not just business, it’s craft.”
Pacino is an Oscar winner (having also been nominated seven times prior to his win) and a two-time Tony Award winner (for his performances in Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie? and The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel). He was Tony-nominated in 2011 for his performance as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, which first ran as part of the Public’s Shakespeare in the Park. His co-star from that production, Lily Rabe, also appeared in the tribute to Pacino.