Background: Al Pacino is the screen writer and director of "Looking
for Richard" which had it's
world premiere at Sundance. Portions of Richard III are interlaced with
Richard, acting, theater and Shakespeare. It features: Al Pacino, Winona
Baldwin, Aidan Quinn, Kevin Spacey, Estelle Parsons, Kevin Kline, Kenneth
Branagh, Sir John
Gielgud, James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave. Al Pacino is here to answer
the press may have concerning Richard.
HOW DID IT FEEL TO DO A MOVIE YOUR WAY, VERSUS HOW THE STUDIO WANTED
I've always been in movies, I never did them on my own. Maybe because I
didn't start out to
make a film. It started out as an experiment, an idea I had. It reminds
me of a short Italian film
where the mayor comes to lay the first brick in a building and everyone
applauds. So he lays
another one. And they cheer. So his assistant says to do another. And pretty
soon he is
doing the whole building. And this is the same kind of thing, one thing
led to another. It started
as a thing I thought I would do and send out to schools. I thought it had
some kind of
educational merit. And because I think the seed of it started in schools.
In the late seventies I
went out and was touring some schools, colleges and I would recite poetry.
I would take
sections of things I enjoyed myself and there would be back and forth questions.
these I would mention Shakespeare and I was surprised at how few of the
kids had even read
Hamlet. And I remember that I would talk about the play and then read an
excerpt. By doing
that they would get tuned, they would find the equinox from their world
to the Shakespeare
world and make the jump. And I forgot about it. Years later I was asked
to do Richard III as a
movie, I had done it on stage, and I though I wouldn't do it as a movie.
I couldn't see myself
doing it. Olivier had done it and it was done. Then I got this idea and
this would be a way of
doing it. It gradually turned into this. I thought it would be on television
or something. Then six
months ago I thought it might get theatrical release.
WAS DIRECTING AN INEVITABLE STEP FOR YOU?
No, I don't think of myself as a director. You see by the film that it came
out of my head, it was
my idea and I was just doing it a step at a time. If I were to direct again
it would have to be
something that I have a strong feeling about because it is a whole way of
looking at things.
And I don't have that as much. But the good thing about it is the control.
HOW DID THE PROJECT EVOLVE?
I thought I would free associate. You'll notice I have different looks in
the picture, It went on for
years. And I had wonderful help from the editors to construct the story
I had in my head. I
would take a situation and I would set it up.
HOW DID YOU GET ALL THOSE WONDERFUL ACTORS ON BOARD?
Knowing the right people. (Laughs) Some actors just wanted to watch, it
was such chaos.
There are some American actors who would like to do Shakespeare and they
could do it
without the onus on it, so much commercial pressure. Some actors did it
for nothing. I know
because we didn't pay them much but they sent me the checks to put back
into the movie. It
took three and a half years to make it and I made three movies in between
and two plays. And
documentaries take that long, but I'm not sure what this is.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH SHAKESPEARE?
In school we read Romeo and Juliette, I saw Marlon Brando in Julius Caesar.
And all the great
English actors. I talk in the movie with James Earl Jones about what it
is like to be able to
express yourself through Shakespeare. I enjoyed that.