Al Pacino: Playboy Interview (1996)

Al Pacino reflects on his career and latest film "Looking for Richard" in a candid Playboy interview, discussing his life, roles, and enduring friendship with interviewer Lawrence Grobel
Al Pacino in Looking for Richard (1996)

In the early Seventies, when Al Pacino played Michael Corleone, the son who followed in his father’s footsteps to become godfather, it was also a symbolic passing from one generation of actors to another, from Marlon Brando to Pacino. Later, the reclusive Pacino agreed to sit for a “Playboy Interview,” but only with “the guy who did Brando.” So Lawrence Grobel, who had interviewed Brando for Playboy in January 1979, spoke with Pacino, and their conversation appeared in December of the same year. but that wasn’t the end for the actor and the journalist, who became close friends and have never stopped talking.


by Lawrence Grobel

Having conquered such complex characters as Michael Corleone and Richard III, Al Pacino confronts a much tougher enigma – himself.

Outside the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, an attractive woman in an African-print dress spotted Al Pacino standing on the corner. She crossed the street, swallowed hard and hesitantly approached him. “Excuse me,” she said to the unshaven actor whose wrinkled clothes looked more Sears than Armani, “but I’m in the middle of this fixation with you. I’ve been watching your films every weekend, and I just want to tell you how much I think of you.”

Pacino smiled, thanked her shyly and said he hoped she would see the film he has recently produced, directed and starred in. “It’s called Looking For Richard,” he said. “It’s a kind of docudrama about Shakespeare’s Richard III, only it’s more than that. I think you might enjoy it.”

The woman promised to look for it and graciously left without asking for his autograph.

“See what I mean,” Pacino said, encouraged by an exchange that, a few years earlier, would have made him uncomfortable. “I told you if we got out of the house we’d have encounters. People on the street come up to me, they talk to me.”

We walked through the hotel lobby and out to the patio, where we ordered coffee. “Mr. Pacino, I hate to trouble you,” a waiter said nervously. Pacino looked up and smiled. What performance did he want to ask about? Michael Corleone? Tony Montana? Big Boy? Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, for which he won an Oscar in Scent of a Woman?

“The last time you were here you forgot to pay your bill,” the waiter stammered, holding the charges in his shaking hand. “I’m sure it was just an oversight.”

“Why didn’t you charge it to me?”

“You don’t have an account here. I can just leave it, and you can take care of it with today’s bill.”

Pacino nodded, still smiling. He is known as a generous tipper and would never welsh on a food bill.

“You wanted to get out,” I said, laughing. “You’re out.”

Pacino looked over to a young man sitting alone, his head buried in a book. “That guy there, reading and eating, annoys the hell out of me. He’s not tasting his food, I can tell you that right now.”

“I do that when I’m alone,” I said.

“You read and eat? How can you read and eat? You don’t enjoy your food. That’s like reading and listening to music. you read and listen to music?”


“You can listen to Beethoven and read a book?”

“Yes, and I sometimes write with Beethoven in the background, while eating a sandwich.”

“You’re a drag, is all I can say. You’re just a drag.”

“Why shouldn’t I be stimulated while I’m thinking?”

“I say, ‘Who do you think you are?’ That’s what I say. Either you’re listening to Beethoven, because that’s what’s happening, or you’re reading a fucking book. You can’t do both,” Pacino said, his eyes fixed on the guy. “Should I go over and tell him? Think it would matter?”

“Sometimes eating is just nourishment,” I said.

“Then you should do it intravenously.”

“Now you’re being silly.”

“What else can I be? I’ve been talking to you for two days, you haven’t asked me one fucking intelligent question.”

“If O.J. Simpson were sitting where that guy is and came over to shake your hand, would you?” “That’s an interesting question. People think, What would I do if I ran into O.J.? At first you see someone whose face is familiar. Then you have to think about the context. You’d have to decide whether you think he’s guilty or not, and should you be shaking his hand, and you drive yourself nuts. I would trust my reaction.”

“Do you think he got away with murder?”

“I wouldn’t go on the record with that, one way or the other. I would stay away from that.”

“Would you have stayed away from him – or whoever was killing Nicole – if you had been Ron Goldman and stumbled onto that scene?”

“You never know how you’re going to react,” Pacino said. “Something strange happened to me recently in the city. I was coming from my apartment on the East Side late at night, and a woman across the street was being sort of accosted by a guy walking behind her. He wasn’t doing anything physical, but she was nervous. Suddenly I’m in a drama, the knees-shaking kind. I had to do something. So I went out to the middle of the street and started walking in a way that made my presence known. I was monitoring my distance to her and the guy and thinking about what would happen if a weapon were drawn, and I though, I’m in the middle of this, this is nuts. But I did it. She saw me and came into the street and started walking behind me, and I was thinking, What the hell am I going to do if this explodes? Then another guy came out and everything was cool again. Manhattan.”

“The city you can never leave.”

“I ever tell you about the coat I bought when I was feeling cold?” Pacino asked. “I was wandering around the city, it must have been winter, and I saw this tan overcoat in a window. I went in, got fitted, paid the guy. he wanted to do a little thing to the coat, so I left it at the store and was going to pick it up later. But I forgot the store where I bought it. Now somebody’s got that coat, and I paid for it.”

“Somebody also has your BMW.”

“Oh, that was funny. I paid cash, $35,000, for this BMW, and while I was purchasing it I knew it was wrong. First of all it was white, and new, and I’m not really a good car person. I should have a Jeep or something. I drove it to my apartment and parked it in front, but I kept thinking, It doesn’t fit, it’s making me uncomfortable, it looks too showy. So i went upstairs and had a cup of coffee, came down and the car was gone. I just started laughing. It was a vivid moment.”

“Do you lose a lot of stuff?”

“With me it’s a trail of missing things. Lighters, cigarettes, umbrellas. I’ve long given up on umbrellas – that’s why I wear hats.”

“At least those things aren’t expensive, like the car.”

“It’s all expensive. Everything cost $1,000 no matter what it is.”

“Are there things you want?” I wondered. “I mean the way the character in Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King had this nagging voice inside him, saying, ‘I want, I want, I want.'”

“Yeah,” Pacino said, “I’ve heard that voice. It said, ‘I want, I want, I want – pizza.'” He laughed and poured more coffee. “I don’t know,” he said, “we know nothing. If somebody wants – I don’t know what the hell that is. Want what? It’s all relative to me. So Saul Bellow’s guy goes into the jungle – I don’t envy the guy. Where is he now?”

“Still on the pages of Bellow’s novel.”

“Did you ask Bellow if he ever went into the jungle?”

“Only in his mind – he wrote the book never having been to Africa.”

“He probably never goes out of his house. See what I mean?”

“Not really. Why don’t you tell me what you mean.”

“Sometimes you ask a question that is so general, so unspecific, I think you’ve become laid-back or something. When did that happen? That’s California. You used to have those piercing eyes. Now you just say, ‘This guy’s dull, he’s a dull actor, he thinks he’s Don Rickles.'”

“Hey, I have never thought that.”

“I wish I were. Sometimes I get this urge to be funny in public and think that I can do what Robin William does. So I try it and it’s a real turkey.”

“You were pretty funny dancing the tango with Barbara Walters on TV. What was that about?”

“That was about a guy who was hiding. I was terrified, and I managed to reveal very little, which was not her fault because she was scared herself. I was a tough interview. I’m thinking of going on Larry King Live for Richard, but it scares me to death because what happens is you hurt yourself. You can’t help it. You say things you don’t mean.”

“Have you thought about what you’ll be asked by the women who will inevitably call into King’s show?”

“I don’t care about the questions. It’s how I answer them.”

“You’re going to get the marriage questions. Why haven’t you been and will you ever?”

“I don’t know why I haven’t gotten married. It seems simple to me, but I guess it’s more complicated than I admit to myself. There were a couple of times I maybe could have done it, and I sort of feel I should have, at least once. Maybe I don’t care about marriage. Maybe I don’t believe in it.”

“Do you or don’t you?”

“On that subject I am unclear. My mother and father didn’t make it together. There’s a high divorce rate. Maybe people shouldn’t think about that when they’re married. You’ve got me talking about this stuff, and I don’t think I have anything to add to the subject of why people marry or don’t.”

“I think you touched on it with your mother and father.”

“Well then, there are a lot of me’s around, because a lot of people come from broken homes. My dad’s been married five times. The only time I think about it is when somebody talks to me about it. But I know if I were in a situation with someone where I felt it worked for us, I would marry. I have no problem with marriage. I’m as ready to get married now as I ever was.”

“Yeah — you’re not at all ready to get married, and you have plenty of problems with marriage.”

“Would you be asking me these questions if I had been married once?”



“Because you would have gone through the experience.”

“You’d just say, ‘How come you’re not married now?'”

“No, because you would have shown you could commit to someone.”

“This used to be fashionable five years ago. Now nobody talks about it. Look at ‘commit’ in the dictionary. Marriage is not part of the definition. I’ll tell you what, the library’s downtown, why don’t you go there and call me in a week. I think I’m gonna commit you.”

“You know what the antonym to commit is?”


“Al Pacino.”

“You’re out to lunch,” he said, laughing, as the waiter brought coffee. “I’ve committed to people my whole life.”

“On your terms,” I challenged.

“Believe me, it wasn’t always my terms. I don’t know what world you are in.”

“Not the same one you’re in,” I admitted. “You’ve been famous a long time. Ever wish you weren’t?”

“I want to tell you about anonymity for an actor. Very important to me. That’s why I’m reluctant about interviews. Once you know things about an actor, as you’re watching his work you start to read into it. I read a book on Mongomery Clift and then saw him in A Place in the Sun“, which was fascinating. But I was fascinated with the guy I read about, and I wasn’t in the picture, in his performance as much. That’s what concerns me and always has.”

“Did reading about Montgomery Clift diminish him?”

“It’s not a question of diminishing. It alters his work and what he as an artist is trying to portray. But we are in a world of promotion today. So while you do that, you still try to maintain your —-“


“Yeah. I don’t try to be mysterious for the sake of being mysterious. I do it for the work. The over exposure of an actor is a strong idea with me.”

“How come you can talk to me?” I asked him.

“Because somehow we found a mutuality. You were at a certain point in your life, as I was in mine, and the timing was there for it. I knew when I met you, what, 17 years ago? That wouldn’t happen again.”

“Didn’t it ever worry you, to befriend a journalist?”

“In the end,” Pacino said, “it doesn’t matter what you do but who you are. I don’t know why we clicked when we did, but we did. I got to see you and your family and your house and to know you as a human being. We’ve gone through so much. I told you about my having a kid before almost anyone else. The one-on-one as a journalist is a whole other thing. You collect information in certain way. You assume your own rules. Sometimes, you just don’t get it, but, then, you’re coming from a different place. The big thing is that I trusted you because you were fair to me. Do you still think of me as your older brother?”

“Sometimes. When we wrestle. How would you describe yourself?”

“I’m easy. I know you don’t think so. If something were bothering you, you’d tell me, wouldn’t you? You’d trust me?”


“Would you trust me with your life?”

“What does that mean?”

“That in the end, no matter what you think of me, and we’ve been through a lot, I think you would. That says something about a relationship. I’d trust you with a secret, I’d trust you to keep your word, and I think you’d trust me that way.”

“At what point would you not trust me?” I wondered.

“In what way would you not trust me?” he volleyed.

“I asked you first.”

“Yes,” Pacino answered, “but I think there is an audience for this movie. Everybody’s always interpreting it in different ways. This is just another way. I didn’t want to do the entire play; I wanted to do a taste. Maybe that’s what it should be called: A Taste of Richard. It’s not like we’re doing it backward or something.”

“Why did you use your own money to finance it?”

“There’s something liberating about that, because you don’t have anyone to answer to. All you have is your canvas and your paints, and you start putting it up there and seeing where it goes. It’s like writing something on spec, except the paper is very expensive and the pen costs a lot too. But I’m not doing anything that hasn’t been done before. Orson Welles, John Cassavetes, they spent their lives doing that. They’d give up their houses to do a movie. When your passion is connected to it, you go for it.”

“I’ve seen eight different cuts of Looking for Richard over the years,” I sad, “and I still have a hard time pinning it down. Is it a documentary? A film about the making of a play? How do you define it?”

“That’s what I say to myself: What is it? ‘m worried about that. When you say Shakespeare, people aren’t going to want to come. Then you say documentary, and they’re really not going to want to come. The fear is that it’s a documentary of Shakespeare, or it’s a docudrama, and linking those two words is almost insurmountable. So you have to be careful how you pitch it, because it isn’t that. It’s entertainment.” The proprietor brought out our shakes. “They want me to call it a personal film, a personal journey,” Pacino continued. “Harvey Weinstein at Miramax thinks it’s a nonfiction film. It’s a jaunt, it’s jubilant. I enjoy the humor of it; the things that happen spontaneously on the street are very funny. We can call it Funnybones.”

“And will you promote it as ‘Al Pacino as you’ve never seen him before’?”

“I’ve got a problem with that. That stuff has always been a pain in the ass, frankly. Who is Al Pacino? What does that mean? After this many years of being an actor, it’s almost insulting to ask me about who I am. I hope every part I play is as-you’ve-never-seen-me from the last part I played.”

“But in this particular film there are many different you’s: there’s the on-camera director and producer, there’s the contemporary actor struggling to get his part and the meaning of the play, there’s the character of Richard III and there’s the guy I’m talking with right now. So it is like nothing the audience has seen before.”

“You want to say that, go for it. But it seems egocentric. Al Pacino is separate from the part I’m playing, from what I’m trying to say as an actor. Al Pacino is personal. As the actor and the filmmaker, you want Al Pacino to stay out of the way. But at the same time you need him because he’s selling the picture, giving it a kind of identity. But you can’t promote it like that – it sounds artificial, Barnumesque.” He took a sip of his shake and made a face, not liking it.

I said, “There are moments in the film when you’re walking the streets of New York, people are recognizing you, and then you start to become King Richard. It’s a metamorphosis that takes place before our eyes. Where did that inspiration come from?”

“I got that from watching Picasso paint in a documentary. He had a glass he put in front of the camera and it started off as a flower and then it turned into a woman’s private parts and then it blossomed out into the rest of her – this flower became this woman. he finished the sketch in less than two minutes right in front of your eyes, then he stood there with the sketch and it was magical. It didn’t matter that we had just seen him do this. It had its own life. I was inspired by that and wanted to see if that kind of thing could happen in acting — and Richard was the opportunity to do it. In regular movies you want the story to take us away and get us involved, but the nature of this film is showing process, and eventually you get into Richard and you forget about process. You’re into the story and you don’t know how you got there. That’s the trick.”

“This is the second film you’ve done at your own pace with your own money. the first, The Local Stigmatic , you’ve never released. Would it be fair to call these your private obsessions?”

“No. Obsession is a pejorative. I don’t think one’s work, one’s passion, is obsession. I think one has a fixation on something. We spend a lifetime doing stuff that’s out of our hands. I just made a movie, Donnie Brasco, and whatever I did is in that director’s hands,. But I’ll tell you this, Looking for Richard has cured me of documentary filmmaking. It’s easier to do something already written than this freewheeling spinning and putting it together.”

The proprietor came out and asked Pacino why he hadn’t drunk the shake he had made for him. “Tell me what’s wrong with it, because my smoothies are famous.” he said.

“How’d you hear about my not liking it? Was it on the radio?” Pacino asked.

“On Hard Copy ,” joked the owner.

“Don’t worry about it. Maybe my taste is really ca-ca.” when the man left, Pacino watched me drink and wondered how I could put something in my body that tasted like perfume. “I think instead of drinking it you should pour it on yourself,” he said. “Dab it behind your ears. Wonderful scent. Scent of a smoothie.”

“I hope that Oscar hasn’t gone to your head,” I said. “Your puns were better when you were an eight-time nominee rather than a one-time winner.”

“You know, I was surprised how I felt after that. There was a kind of glow that lasted a couple of weeks. I’d never had that feeling. It’s kind of like winning an Olympic medal because you’re the best — with the Oscar that’s not necessarily the case. It’s just your turn.” he laughed.

“You’ve been singled out for recognition at the Venice Film Festival, the American Museum of the Moving Image, the Golden Globes. What has all this glory done for you?”

“I think it has helped my paddle-ball game,” he said, lighting a cigarette. “Every time I lose a point I think of my awards, and I get back in the game.”

“I thought you quit smoking.”

“They’re herbal. You don’t die of cancer, you die of boredom. It smells like marijuana, so you come off kind of cool.”

“When’s the last time you smoked a joint?”

“I smoked dope years ago. I wasn’t big on it, but I liked it occasionally with wine.”

“Why not now?”

“I’m afraid of hallucinogens or mind-altering things. They make me feel muted. It’s like living in a kind of gauze — it takes the power, the energy, the edge out of life.”

“Have you ever done acid?”

“I had acid laid on me when I was younger, in my 30’s. It was terrifying. It was a Mickey Finn sort of thing. I know there was something different happening to me, and it just escalated.”

“You mean it’s not up there with seeing Madonna naked?”

“That’s private information, Larry.”

“But you have seen her?”

“Yes, I have. She was doing a dance and she was naked under her coat. In the course of the dance she became inspired and opened her coat and there it was. She has an extraordinarily beautiful body, like cut out of ivory. One day when I’m old, and I’m wheeled out onto the porch wrapped in a blanket to get a little autumn sun on my face, if I have a beatific smile as I’m basking, I’ll probably be thinking of that.”

Pacino looked at his watch and said that if we were going to play paddle tennis we’d better get moving, because he had a dinner engagement. We got back into my car and drove to a mutual friend’s house off Benedict Canyon.

“Were you much of a womanizer when you were young?” I asked.

“Why would you say I’m a womanizer?” Pacino shot back. “I was brought up with women, I’ve lived with women all my life. I don’t know anything else. They’re my friends.”

“You lost the most important woman in your life when you were 21. Do you think about her?”

“I think about my mother all the time. I heard this kid, Oscar de la Hoya, talking about his mother, who died before he had made it, and how the material thing that he doesn’t seem to have much feeling for, his mother would have gotten a lot out of. I feel the same way. I think my success would have saved my mother’s life, because it was poverty that took her down. She died very young.”

At the paddle-tennis court Pacino put on new sneaker and told an anecdote about hiding in his grandmother’s closet, then jumping out when her leopardskin coat seemed to movie on its own.

“Were those happy times for you, the innocence of childhood?”

“Every time I think of happy I think of h-a-p-p-y. It’s a funny word. I think of slaphappy. What’s happy? There are feelings of well-being and comfort and peace, love, of feeling assured. I guess I was happy the day I got my Tome Mix cowboy spurs when I was six years old — but on that same day my great-grandmother died, so —-

“What’s made you happy since then?”

“Why all this pressure to be happy? What difference does that make? Things are the way they are. Things happen.”

“Maybe happiness is convincing a girl you’re worthy of her.”

“If that’s happiness, how’s this for unhappy: I was once auditioning for a part in a play in acting school and had to sing a little. A girl I had a crush on was waiting out side the audition room, sitting on a staircase with a guy she liked. I didn’t get the part, and afterward I came out and she was there and she looked up at me as if to say, “That was not a very impressive audition.” And with that look she said aloud, “I didn’t know you could sing.’ I said, ‘yeah, and I can fly, too.’ And with that I leaped over her down a whole flight of stars. That really didn’t impress her. And as I was in midair I thought, This isn’t working. I knew that guys who would do that don’t stand a chance with girls.”

We began whacking the ball over the net. Before each serve Pacino looked at his watch, and I asked him why. “Leave me alone,” he said.

“What is it about this game that keeps you coming back?”

“So I can beat you.”

“We’ll stop playing once you win?”

“You only think I can’t. I pretend to lose to you.”

“Of all the characters you’ve played,” I shouted across the net, wondering if Pacino would start complaining about talking and playing at the same time, “which played most havoc with your psyche?”

“I felt the most disturbed when I played that race-car driver in Bobby Deerfield. It was a personal journey into someone who was isolated and depressed. And it was the first time I was sober. I’m not terribly fond of that performance, but I felt close to it at the time because I was moving away from a world I had known – I had a lot of successes in a row, I felt like a I had been shot out of a cannon and I was a little isolated.”

He tried to hit a ball past me as I charged the net, but it went wide. “Oh, Al!” he shouted at himself. We split the first eight games and took a break. I was dripping with perspiration; Pacino didn’t break a sweat. he rarely does. We drank bottled water and he complained of having trouble sleeping. I asked him if he ever dreamed in character. “Yeah, always,” he said. “With Richard I’d go to bed thinking about it, and in the middle of the night get up.”

“What about playing real-life characters — do you like to meet the guys you play? Does it give you any insight?”

“When I met Frank Serpico I saw in his eyes a maverick, eclectic person. I felt I would like to express what I saw in his face, but I was unable to do it. I avoided meeting the guy in Dog Day Afternoon because I had an idea of the kind of person I wanted to play. That was a mistake — it would have served me to meet him. It always does.”

“What about Michael Corleone? Did you ever meet his Mafia prototype?”

“No, but I was lucky there. Francis [Coppola] had created this character, and I clearly saw the way he wanted it.”

“Were you as clear about Godfather III as you were about the first two?”

“There had been a 16-year respite between the second and third one, and it felt odd to pick up that character again. It was also a feeling of, I’ve been here before, so it was easier to play. But the third one didn’t seem so focused as the other two; it seemed unfinished. We missed the Duvall character strongly.”

“How would the film have changed if Duvall had been in it?”

“Michael’s relationship with Duvall’s character, Tom Hagen, was the catalyst for his involvement in that whole thing with the Church. Hagen was under a lot of pressure and his life was being threatened and finally he was killed, and it was Michael’s investigating his murder that brought him into the Church. he wasn’t coming there with hat in hand. A totally different idea. and to suddenly switch that around — as much of a genius as Francis is — that’s a hard one.”

“Was Duvall’s absence because he wasn’t offered as much money as you?”

“That’s what he says, but I don’t know.”

“What else could it be?”

“Think about it. That’s all I’ll say. Just think about it.”

“O.K., I’ve thought about it. It has to be the money — that’s what it always boils down to. Why else would you remove yourself from the third part of one of the cinema’s great trilogies?”

“Because actors are nuts”

“Actors are nuts, but they can make a lot of money.”

“When I was a kid I never had money. I was born and reared in poverty, and as I got older and was by myself, if I didn’t eat, so what? I had a room with a bathroom in the hall. I lived like that, it was part of life. Then when I was superintendent I was making $14 a week. Every time I’d get it I’d spend it in three and a half minutes — I’d have a couple quarts of ale and then nothing mattered. I remember sitting on the edge of the bed in this tiny room thinking, What am I going to do, I have six and three-fourths days left before I get my $14. I’d go to a local party and head for the refrigerator; if there was one meatball n there I’d snatch it. It was really boring to have to always worry about where I was going to get my next meal. it was like a dull, persistent thud.”

“And now, with the money you make, the sounds you hear must be like champagne corks popping.”

“It wasn’t that long ago, the mid-Eighties, when I didn’t work for four years and ran out of dough.”

“That was after Revolution and before Sea of Love. Did your on-screen disappearance have anything to do with your feeling that Revolution was released before you thought it was ready?”

“The idea of presenting something as a piece of work that wasn’t finished was odd to me. At the time it made me feel that I had no recourse, that the only thing I could do was to think about what I could do so I wouldn’t have to have that feeling — and so I went off and did my own little film. I put a lot of money into doing The Local Stigmatic, and then I had a tax bite and owed the government so I had to make some movies. But I don’t feel like I make money. I work, I make films, I do plays. I don’t make money, that’s not what I do.”

“So who’s getting the millions for your services?”

“I like what Charles Bukowski said about money: Money’s magic. It gets you things. You spend it, you use it to make movies, you give it to charity. You don’t just take the money and make more money with it. I don’t feel comfortable doing that. Maybe there’s a reason for it, I don’t know. It’s just the way I’ve been.”

The sun was beginning to set, and Pacino bent to unlace his sneakers. “We’ll meet here in the morning, play a full set,” he said “Maybe we can go to a baseball game one night.”

“I thought you didn’t like to go where you might be spotted.”

“I love to go to the games, but I don’t like when they put the camera on me. That’s why I don’t go to the boxing matches. I don’t want to feel like the announcer is going to come up to me afterward and ask what I thought of the fight.”

His driver arrived to take him to Santa Monica to meet his friend Charlie, then to dinner with Harold and Susan Becker, Ellen Barken and three other people he enjoys seeing when he is in L.A. Before we parted I asked him why he was such a big shot.

“Why?” he barked, hunching his back and becoming his Dick Tracy character, Big Boy. “Because I was born that way. Big shots are born, they’re not made.” He laughed and gave me a look that said, Go ahead, ask me another. I’ve been hitting them back all day.

“If you could have selected your biographer,” I wondered, “what writer would do you justice?”

“Dostoyevsky. Though he’s not a lot of laughs.”

“Do you see yourself as a Dostoyevskian character?”

“No more. A couple of years ago, yea. now I’m more of a Chekhovian character. I was brought up on many different writers, from Balzac to Shakespeare. I know I come from the streets and had no formal education, but I read this stuff, and it’s the Russians that I really felt. Reading saved my life.”

“How smart do you think you are?”

“What’s smart? Am I smart like Stephen Hawkings or Joseph Campbell? No. Like Walter Cronkite? Yes,” he said, laughing, then shrugged. “If I didn’t do what I do, I’d probably be delivering packages to CAA.”

“When’s the last time you were conned?”

“I was Jimmy Caan’d once. And it’s happening now, isn’t it? C’mon, snap that machine off so we can arm wrestle.”

Playboy, December 1996


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Knox Goes Away (2023)

Knox Goes Away (2023) | Transcript

A contract killer, after being diagnosed with a fast-moving form of dementia, is presented with the opportunity to redeem himself by saving the life of his estranged adult son.

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