This Iconic Actor Was 'Unnerving' to Work With Even for Al Pacino: 'He's a Giant'

This Iconic Actor Was 'Unnerving' to Work With Even for Al Pacino: 'He's a Giant'
Image credit: Netflix, Legion-Media

If you know anything about Al Pacino, you know he’s not the one to scare easily.

There are very few actors like Al Pacino in the movie landscape. Memorable in every role, he has that animal magnetism to him that makes his every part unforgettable, and his performances in criminal dramas throughout the decades have largely defined the genre for years to come. Al Pacino is a giant in his own right, no doubt.

But back in the day, it was a whole different giant, arguably, an even bigger one, whose mere presence next to him was “unnerving” for Al Pacino. Who was it?

Al Pacino’s The Godfather Role Was a Risk

Francis Ford Coppola’s most iconic movie trilogy, The Godfather, saw Al Pacino play the part of Michael Corleone, the mafia boss’s son. When he was offered the gig, the young actor couldn’t believe it: he was barely a rookie at the time, only having played in a few plays before. But that’s where the director noticed him — and brought him along… Right toward the scariest encounter in Al Pacino’s life by then.

“My first introduction to Marlon Brando came when I was just sixteen years old. <...> In my early years growing up, the image of Marlon became my source of inspiration. <...> To work alongside Marlon Brando in a movie was initially a little unnerving to me,” Al Pacino shared with Phillips.

But while the presence of his powerful and scary idol — the one he referred to as “a giant on every level” — was stressful for the young actor at first, he quickly learned that of all the people involved with the movie, it was Brando who was on his side.

Brando Defended Al Pacino Against Everyone

This Iconic Actor Was 'Unnerving' to Work With Even for Al Pacino: 'He's a Giant' - image 1

Initially, young Al Pacino was terrified of playing Michael Corleone: he found the part too difficult for his level. But as his confidence grew, he developed his own vision for the character and wanted to work with it. Both Francis Ford Coppola and the studio had reservations about Al Pacino’s approach — but he had a very powerful ally.

“The studio heads were trying to get me fired. I knew how I wanted to play the role, but no one could see what I was doing. <...> Marlon took me under his wing and told me he was really happy with my performance. He said, ‘I want you to know that I really want you for this part.’ He defended me to Francis and the studio, saying, ‘The kid is doing great,’” Al Pacino recalled in the interview.

Whether this is a lesson about overcoming your fears or just a story of how great of a person Marlon Brando was is for you to decide.

Sources: Interview, Phillips