An undeniable Hollywood great, Al Pacino has brought an indefatigable sense of simmering intensity to numerous roles across a 50-year career.
The actor, who celebrated his 80th birthday on Saturday, is among the few performers to have received the triple crown of acting – winning a competitive Oscar, Emmy and Tony award.
He has also had success behind the camera with 1996’s Looking For Richard and Salome in 2013 among others.
Known for a reserved acting style punctuated by wild outbursts, four of his nine Oscar nominations came in the 70s alone.
Despite a wide-ranging filmography, Pacino is best known for playing an array of compelling mobsters.
Among his famous roles are Michael Corleone in the Godfather films, Tony Montana in Scarface, and Lefty Ruggiero in Donnie Brasco.
Alfredo James Pacino was born in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York City to Italian-American parents, who divorced when he was two.
He moved with his mother to the Bronx to live with her parents, who were Italian immigrants from Corleone, Sicily.
In his teenage years, he was known as Sonny to his friends and had ambitions to become a baseball player.
He acted in basement plays in New York’s theatrical underground but was rejected as a teenager by the Actors Studio, a famed method acting school in Hell’s Kitchen.
Pacino joined the HB Studio, where he met acting teacher Charlie Laughton, who became his mentor.
As he worked on his craft, Pacino was often unemployed and homeless, sometimes sleeping on the street, at friends’ houses or in theatres.
He eventually gained entry to the Actors Studio and studied under acting coach Lee Strasberg.
He said of his time there: “The Actors Studio meant so much to me in my life. Lee Strasberg hasn’t been given the credit he deserves. Next to Charlie, it sort of launched me. It really did.”
His breakthrough role as Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 mobster epic The Godfather is regarded as one of the greatest performances in film history.
Since his debut, he has appeared in some 50 films, bringing a brooding seriousness to roles in Scent Of A Woman and Dog Day Afternoon.
Pacino’s latest triumph came in 2019 as union leader Jimmy Hoffa, alongside Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese’s Netflix film The Irishman.
This was the first time Pacino had been directed by Scorsese, and his turn earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.
Pacino has never married and has fathered three children.
Since 1994, he has been joint president of the Actors Studio.