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Al Pacino on TV: How His Star Power Went Beyond The Big Screen

By    |   Wednesday, 15 Apr 2015 08:19 PM

Long a star on the big screen, Al Pacino joined the cable-driven rush to TV roles, and he didn't disappoint there, either, with three award-contending contributions to the HBO lineup.

Here’s are three roles Al Pacino's star power conquered  the small screen:

1. Roy Cohn, “Angels in America” (2003)

Red-baiting McCarthy-era lawyer Roy Cohn is coming to the end of his days in this miniseries, adapted from a play about AIDS suffering in the Reagan years, and HitFix reviewer Kristopher Tapley said the portrayal may “may stand among Pacino's finest hours.”  Tapley added that Pacino gives the viewer “finds grace notes of humanity as Cohn's mind and health slip away, but he never once lets Cohn off the hook.”

Nathan Rabin, of Onion A.V. Club, reviewing
the DVD release, called the Cohn portrayal “a showy role that demands (Pacino’s) brand of near psychotic intensity.”

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The role gave Pacino the 2004 Prime-Time Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie.

2. Dr. Jack Kevorkian, “You Don’t Know Jack” (2010)

Taking a Forrest Gump turn in this biography of the infamous “suicide doctor,” Pacino’s digitally inserted into archival footage of suffering patients who are talking to the real Kevorkian, said Amy Chozick of The Wall Street Journal.

However, Time magazine’s James Poniewozik praised the way Pacino brought the infamous Dr. Death to life, particularly his “modulated read as the cranky, impatient old man who can’t understand why the rest of society doesn’t have the empathy to embrace his work, the logic to see that it’s medically legitimate, or the foresight to recognize him as a great man.”

Poniewozik, a Michigander, was also pleased with Pacino for “attempting an actual Michigan accent,” even though the accent bounced all around the state, from the flat diction of Detroit to the more singsong intonations of the Upper Peninsula.

Still, it was good enough for the 2010 Prime-Time Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for Pacino.

3. Phil Spector,  “Phil Spector” (2013)

Peering out from under a backlit fright wig, Pacino portrays the “Wall of Sound” music impresario convicted in the 2009 death of actress Lana Clarkson. You know how this “based on real-life events” drama is going to turn out, so it’s up to the players to make the journey interesting — including, as critic Roger Ebert noted “Pacino’s work as an articulate and eccentric painter of his own portrait.” 

The New York Times' Alessandra Stanley inimated that Pacino might have turned in a better performance than Spector deserved: “Mr. Pacino is palsied, choleric, and monomaniacal, but not entirely repellent,” she wrote.

“There is an occasional flash of self-awareness in his eyes and a glint of humored reason in his grandiose diatribes.”

Pacino was nominated for a Prime-Time Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie in 2013.

Vote Now: Which of These Actors Stands the Test of Time?

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Long a star on the big screen, Al Pacino joined the cable-driven rush to TV roles, and he didn't disappoint there, either, with three award-contending contributions to the HBO lineup. Here’s are three roles Al Pacino' star power conquered the small screen.
al pacino, tv, star, power
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2015-19-15
Wednesday, 15 Apr 2015 08:19 PM
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