In an interview with Anthony DeCurtis for the Oct. 17 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Al Pacino, now appearing on Broadway in Eugene O'Neill's Hughie, discussed his current work on two different films concerning Shakespeare's King Richard III.
Not only is Pacino attempting to bring the tragedy of an monstrous conniver to the screen (starring himself, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin and Winona Ryder), but he's filming a documentary about the process, titled Looking For Richard, which opens Oct. 11.
According to DeCurtis' article, the documentary has a scruffy-looking Pacino wandering the streets of New York and asking the people he meets what they think of Shakespeare and King Richard. He then intercuts readings, research and rehearsals for the actual narrative film of Richard III.
"I try to set the stage for you, so that when you get to Shakespeare, you can get into it a little bit more relaxed," Pacino told DeCurtis. "Some of the scenes have given you a chance to understand what the characters are doing and why they're doing it, so you're then able to receive the vintage Shakespeare, the real power of his vision."
Pacino, 56, already has some film directing under his belt, having done the short film The Local Stigmatic, based on a one-act play by Heathcote Williams, back in 1992. Pacino is currently selling out his self-directed production of Eugene O'Neill's Hughie on Broadway. Asked by DeCurtis why, at middle age, he's suddenly taken to directing on stage and screen, Pacino kidded, "If you're still hanging around, why not direct? I mean, I'm still here, what the hell? Why not try this?"
DeCurtis then asked Pacino whether other characters he's played have a connection to Richard. "Richard was familiar to me because I had played it three times onstage. I understood the play... Sometimes I do certain characters to help play others. Look at Arturo Ui, by Bertolt Brecht. I did that play many, many, years ago, and some of that character turns up in Big Boy Caprice, in `Dick Tracy...' There are commonalities; you find them."