Actor Al Pacino has recently shared his thoughts about depression, and talked Hollywood politics at the 2014 Venice Film Festival. Pacino was promoting two movies at the time reporters got to him, Manglehorn and The Humbling. In The Humbling, which has received good reviews, Pacino plays an aging actor that has a brief, but poignant affair with a younger lady, portrayed by Greta Gerwig. He expressed what initially attracted him to the role, was the stark contrast between his character’s “tragic moments”, and “nice moments of comedy” said the 74-year-old actor.
He continues, “My character gets older and finds that the intimacies he’s had for his desired work in the past, are starting to fade, so he attempts to make up for that feeling and begins to drift into a sort of madness…confusion really. And then he slowly falls into a depression, which is used in a kind of way, and expresses itself through his work.” When asked by festival journalists, of what he himself thought about depression, he answered, “I could be depressed, although I don’t think that I’d really know if I was. Some folks can go into a deep depression, and that can be really, really sad. And if it lasts, well, then that can be downright terrifying. I’m familiar with that. I can remember having bouts with issues that came very close to that, although with not as much intensity. I can say, or you could say that I’m lucky,” he added.
Playing iconic roles like those in The Godfather, The Scent of a Woman, and talking tough as Tony Montana in Scarface, Pacino’s sense of understanding for the characters dealing with depression, allow him to truly relate to what each character’s about. “Some of the things I look for in a character, are the same similarities I can find in myself. For example, when you speak of depression, I know that’s a part of the world we are in, and it’s a part of the challenges we are faced with as actors,” he confessed.
There seems to be a trend of a few films that premiered in Venice, one being Pacino’s Manglehorn, where he stars as a man struggling with being unable to resume a normal existence after a past love escapes him. The second, is the Alejandro G. Inarritu directed Birdman, which finds Michael Keaton playing a veteran thespian who has lost some of his touch, and tries desperately to keep his chaotic world from crashing down around him.
Pacino, who worked with an actor who feverishly battled depression, in the 2002 movie, Insomniac, with Robin Williams, he also talked about what keeps him going in life. “I am blessed to have three beautiful children, whom I love very much. I would certainly have to say that whole experience, being a dad, a father, has been a tremendous age of enlightenment in my life. In addition to the friends that I have had, some of the people that I have worked with and met through the years, and the majority of relationships that I have been able to maintain. All of those things, combined, have contributed to a wonderful, and amazing journey that I have been on thus far. Pretty much, I feel like I am alright.”
By Theodore Borders