Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist

Al Pacino Interview -

Doug with Al Pachino

Al is not easy. It's not easy to get him to commit to a film and when he does it's not easy to work with him because he always wants just one more rehearsal or one more take or one more test screening.

I recall being in the lobby of a grand hotel in Beverly Hills with Al Pacino who was deciding where to go for lunch. His associates hung around aimlessly. The automatic doors opened and closed, swish, swish by the dozen, back and forth and back again, in the time it took one of the most important stars of his generation to make up his mind where to have pasta. A few hours before he began debating lunch he was having a little difficulty with breakfast in a downstairs suite of the hotel.

It was the coffee. You know, regular or decaffeinated? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Bobby ain't easy either. Flashback to his restaurant in New York 's Tribeca and Robert De Niro, after months of negotiations, is mumbling about one of his string of Oscar worthy performances. Quotable? Forget it. He's inarticulate when he's asked if he would like more to eat. Blueberry pie? Strawberries? That other most important star of his generation took one of those long pauses. It wasn't effective. He still couldn't decide.

Al and Bobby. Bobby and Al. When Michael Mann finally got them together on screen for the first time (they never shared a moment in ‘Godfather 2') he, thankfully, had to make the decisions. His movie ‘Heat' which is going to be one of the most talked about works of the year already runs for 172 minutes. Just think of the time that Al and Bobby, the marathon minute men, could have added to that.

Mann's stars are back on top form in a cleverly formed crime thriller which pitches good and bad and all the abrasive anomalies associated with cops and robbers into the tarnished tip of Los Angeles .

Pacino is the cop Vincent Hannah. A detective with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) he's as dedicated hunter. De Niro is the clever psycho Neil McCauley who is equally driven. His gig is to commit spectacular hold-ups and if a few guys get blown apart that is just part of the business.

This isn't cat and mouse but a couple of veteran foxes on the loose. Never mind the town -- the world's not big enough for both of them.

Mann who made ‘Manhunter' ( Scotland's Brian Cox co-starred creating the first cinema version of Hannibal Lecter) and ‘The Last of the Mohicans' as well as starting the men's fashion of dressing like after-dinner mints with his hugely successful television series ‘Miami Vice' is, by intent and CV, a stylist.

By getting Pacino and De Niro on screen together he has also proved his patience and his talent as a diplomat. The actors have been rivals for major movie roles for a quarter of a century. Pacino won an early contest when he won the lead in the landmark ‘Panic in Needle Park ' in 1971.

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