Hollywood has provided some great stories, films, and directors throughout the years, but what has always stood at the top of the mountain has been the actors. From Gene Kelly and Humphrey Bogart to Will Smith and Tom Hanks, there has never been a shortage of star power in Tinsletown.
No matter the generation, there has been one who has stood among the best over a five-decade era. Al Pacino has provided viewers with classics characters, from Tony Montana to Jimmy Hoffa. Even at a time when Hollywood was trying to put actors in a box, Pacino strove for more and he wanted fans to see his versatility.
10 Frank Serpico (Serpico)
Al Pacino on the other side of the law is still a thing of beauty to watch. Serpico is one of his earlier films, but the star power was evident back then. As a cop who shuns the dirty side that some of his fellow cops decided to follow, Frank Serpico puts a target on his back when he drops the dime on those not living up to their badge.
Based on a true story, Pacino shines in a role that viewers still have a hard time believing fits his style. Corruption is the name of the game in this film and Pacino delivers a performance that helped earn him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
9 Vincent Hanna (Heat)
By now, fans were used to seeing Pacino basically play the bad guy. Well, maybe not bad in terms of hatred for his character, but just on the opposite side of the law. In Heat, Pacino was a dialogue wizard. No signs of Carlito or Tony Montana, but more along the lines of Michael Corleone with a badge.
Lt. Hanna was tracking a group of bank robbers led by the great Robert Deniro and his impressive resume. This was their first time on-screen together and it resulted in one of Pacino’s best performances. Heat was and still is considered a classic film that never got its due respect in the Hollywood circle.
8 John Milton (The Devil’s Advocate)
If there was one person pegged to play the Devil, Al Pacino was the man. John Milton ran a successful law firm in New York City and tabbed a young lawyer, played by an up and coming actor named Keanu Reeves as his understudy. But there was more to his plan than meets the eye. Pacino displayed his calm demeanor, only to switch to an arrogant, and yet, still brilliant role of Satan.
To be fair, the script was not the best. It was predictable, but Pacino gave his all in the project. His rage was understandable and his no remorse attitude was exactly what the role needed. To this day, there has not been a better Satan.
7 Jimmy Hoffa (The Irishman)
One of the most talked-about mobsters in history was brought to the screen in a large way that many didn’t expect. Al Pacino finally teamed up with esteemed director Martin Scorsese and gave a performance many were waiting for if these two were ever to get together.
The history of Hoffa is well documented, but to finally see him portrayed in such a way that viewers understood his life and death, put Pacino into the upper-level as a veteran actor.
6 Frank Slade (Scent Of A Woman)
Scent Of A Woman is never discussed as one of the great films. However, it’s viewed as one of Al Pacino’s most iconic roles. By its release, he was almost typecast in the gangster role, but his portrayal as Frank Slade gave the studios the green light to see him as more. Playing a blind army veteran stuck in his ways was a big Pacino coming out party.
Slade was crass, wore his heart on his sleeve, and didn’t take no for an answer. But then he showed a softer side to his young counterpart, Charlie Simms, played by Chris O’Donnell.
5 Carlito Brigante (Carlito’s Way)
The drug business is a messy affair. For Carlito Brigante, he did put his work in, did his time and now he just wanted out. However, he would learn that it’s never that easy as one can imagine. Coming back into the old neighborhood proved to be costly in a few ways.
It may not have been his best work, but Pacino gave Carlito’s Way a pulse. He was the driving force and his portrayal of Carlito helped usher in another avenue for hip-hop artists and other movies to reflect on the pitfalls of leaving the gangster life behind.
4 Lefty Ruggiero (Donnie Brasco)
Al Pacino was in his bag as Lefty Ruggiero. The oldest of the crew, Lefty took a young guy under his wing named Donnie Brasco. Unfortunately, for Lefty, Donnie was not who he said he was. Pacino was in true form in this film, but it was his love for Donnie that drew fans in.
Pacino took a role that he was built for and added an element that underworld movies were lacking — heart. Lefty ended up paying the ultimate price for his decisions, but it was still unfair how things ended for him.
3 Any Given Sunday
Sports movies will always be a big draw no matter the size of the screen. But Any Given Sunday was such a different look into the world of professional football that fans still regard this as the truest film about the popular sport. From Al Pacino to Jamie Foxx and LL Cool J, Pacino stole the show.
As a coach on his last leg, losing his team and his grip on reality, Pacino gave viewers insight into what it’s like being the head of a sinking ship. Tony D’Amato was angry, depressed, and lost in his own world, but he loved the game and wanted it played the right way.
2 Michael Corleone (The Godfather Trilogy)
Before The Godfather, Al Pacino has credits under his belt. But after The Godfather, Corleone would go down as one of the greatest characters ever. But here was a young kid keeping pace with some of Hollywood’s biggest acts. As Michael Corleone, Pacino did what he could to stay away from the criminal life his family was involved in.
Micheal was the bookworm, but due to circumstances, he had to trade his books in and became what he despised. As the head, he was no longer dodging businessman with suits, he was now giving orders and dodging suits with guns.
1 Tony Montana (Scarface)
With one character, Al Pacino changed way more than the Hollywood scene. With Tony Montana, Pacino changed the way the world views hip hop culture. Montana was not a good guy, he was pure evil. He entered the drug game with bodies already under his belt, but it was just something about him that pulled everyone in.
Pacino was so stunning in this role that viewers left the theater now rooting for the bad guy to win. After Scarface, it would have been easy for studios to typecast Pacino in certain roles. He was that believing. Tony Montana is arguably one of the greatest characters ever written.
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