'The Humbling' - Photocall - 71st Venice Film FestivalIt’s Al Pacino day here on the Lido. The actor is in town for two very different films, Barry Levinson’s out-of-competition The Humbling and David Gordon Green’s competition entry Manglehorn. Pacino stars in the former as an aging theater actor at a crossroads who has an affair with Greta Gerwig’s younger woman. It’s based on the Philip Roth novel and adapted by Buck Henry. In Manglehorn, Green revisits his beloved Texas with the story of a disenchanted locksmith who pines for a lost love and ultimately breaks out of his self-imposed prison. Both have received some mixed notices here thus far. Never mind, the faithful were out in droves for packed back-to-back press conferences this afternoon to hear the venerable Pacino wax on a wide array of subjects.

Pacino said The Humbling, to which he acquired the rights, attracted him because of the juxtaposition of the protagonist’s “tragic fall” with “a lot of comedy.” The character is “getting older and the feelings he has for his work are becoming less available to him, so he tries to compensate and becomes a little off and confused and slips into a kind of depression that expresses itself in his work.” Of himself, Pacino said, “I may be depressed but I don’t know about it… People go into depression and it’s very, very sad and it can last and it’s terrifying. I know that, I’ve had bouts with stuff that comes close to that, but not with that intensity. I feel spared, I feel lucky.” A little while later when the question was revisited, he added, “In Godfather II, I would imagine Michael Corleone was depressed.”

Asked about his work with The Actors Studio, Pacino reminisced about its impact on his career and how important it was that it didn’t cost anything to attend. “They took me in as a 25-year-old with no money to pay the rent – you could also get free shoes there.” He praised Inside The Actors Studio host James Lipton’s efforts in promoting the organization, but also said, “The Bravo show is not The Actors Studio, it’s a wonderful show, but The Actors Studio is a different ballpark.” He called it a “cause” and gushed, “I can’t say enough about it.”

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On Hollywood, Pacino took a different stance to Peter Bogdanovich’s yesterday. “I don’t have much to say about Hollywood because basically a movie is a movie, a film is a film. I don’t know it, and I never did know what Hollywood does. Apparently, it’s in LA,” said the die-hard New Yorker. He talked about the old days of Tinseltown, before his time, when the industry “exchanged ideas, there was communication… To me, that is no longer there, but that’s only natural.” With different people running the studios, it’s “no better or worse; they’re doing some great stuff,” he said. He then got a big hoot out of the audience when he gave Marvel and Disney a plug: “I just saw Guardians Of The Galaxy… It was amazing. I did find it the most entertaining, inventive, beautiful film. So I’m not anti-that at all.”