Irresistible allure of Pacino
Published 26/02/2012 | 06:00
Even at 71, the man many in Hollywood consider the greatest movie star of all time still has the power to make women swoon.
Rougher round the edges but still in full possession of his legendary bad-boy charm and brooding Italian looks, Al Pacino breezed into Dublin this week for a screening of his new film Wilde Salome, leaving female fans who packed the streets outside drooling like love-sick teenagers.
The lady on his arm, Lucila Sola, an Argentine actress 40 years his junior, did her best to grab the cameras' eye, stroking her glistening black locks as the actor spoke of his love for Oscar Wilde (whose play Salome inspired his latest work), but there was no competition.
The lenses, like so many of his female co-stars who have fallen for him headfirst, only had eyes for him.
Since he took on the iconic role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather 40 years ago, he has been nominated for eight Oscars, taking home one for his 1992 performance as a blind army officer in Scent of a Woman.
He has played epic parts in a string of critically acclaimed movies from Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico to Sea of Love and Scarface, his signature intensity and rugged magnetism proving irresistible to many of his leading ladies.
Yet in 50 years of dating some of the world's most glamourous women, he remains Hollywood's longest-serving bachelor and has never married. The enigmatic superstar, who grew up in a broken home of Sicilian immigrants in a Bronx slum, once vowed that he would never tie the knot because he hated the fact that marriage is a legal contract.
"Why have I never proposed in the past?" he has said.
"I hate to say this, but marriage is a state of mind, not a contract. When I think about the law and marriage, I ask myself, when did the cops get involved?"
Like the countless movie offers he has rejected during his career, Pacino has a habit of walking away from relationships as soon as the word husband comes into the frame.
In her 2011 memoir, actress Diane Keaton wrote of her three-year romance with the "unattainable great", which began after a 15-year crush she developed for the actor while playing his wife Kay Corleone in The Godfather.
The Annie Hall star, who was linked to a string of Hollywood actors including Warren Beatty and Woody Allen, fell hardest for Pacino, but he was only interested in two things, she said, baseball and the theatre.
Before long, she started to believe that he viewed her more as someone to talk to than a lover, and in 1990, when they were filming Godfather III in Rome, she delivered an ultimatum: "Marry me, or at least commit to the possibility."
Several months later, distraught after the death of her father, she was sitting in a therapist's office when Pacino turned to her and said he had no intention of marrying her and wanted out for good. It was a break-up which left her devoid of "all semblance of sexy confidence", she said.
"He was charming, hilarious, a non-stop talker. There was an aspect of him that was like a lost orphan, like this crazy idiot savant. And oh, gorgeous.
"I was mad for him. I worked hard on that one."
But she was just one in a long stream of actresses Pacino became romantically entangled with off-screen.
In the early 1970s, before he was famous, he had a five-year relationship with New Yorker Jill Clayburgh, one of the smartest female stars of her time.
Just days after he told a reporter they were planning to marry and have children, he took her to dinner and said he had fallen in love with another woman.
Into the frame came Hollywood bad girl Tuesday Weld, a child actress who dated Elvis Presley and turned down two of the biggest roles in movie history, Lolita, and the female lead in Bonnie and Clyde.
There was a two-year relationship with Swiss beauty Marthe Keller, whom he starred with in the 1977 car-racing flop Bobby Deerfield, and a passionate affair with Californian TV actress Kathleen Quinlan, between 1979 and 1981.
A heated liaison with Penelope Ann Miller, his co-star in Carlito's Way, came as a surprise as he had been living with Australian director Lyndall Hobbs for years.
"Pacino wants to make love every minute of the day and night," Hobbs once said.
Unfortunately, she would soon discover, it was not just with her. Miller, almost 25 years his junior, said the chemistry between her and Pacino was unstoppable.
"Al is a very passionate person," she said, "and he brought out a certain womanliness, a sexuality, a passion in me. I always knew I had it in me, but he brought out a real fire."
Another old flame, Susan Tyrell, compared him to "a stallion with his reins pulled too tight. He needs to have his freedom more than most performers. And when Al is free, he flies."
A brief fling with acting coach Jan Tarrant produced Pacino's first child, Julie. An aspiring film-maker, the 21-year-old has brought more than a bit of drama to her father's life. Last summer, she was arrested in Manhattan after admitting to drinking beer and smoking marijuana while driving.
More recently, his relationship with Beverly D'Angelo, whom he met on a flight from LA to New York, led to one of the bitterest celebrity custody battles.
The 60-year-old star of the National Lampoon Vacation movies, and ex-girlfriend of movie director Neil Jordan, had been dating Al Pacino for four years when they decided to have IVF treatment, which resulted in twins.
Anton and Olivia Pacino were born in 2001, but the following year, the couple went through a bitter separation followed by a lengthy legal battle over access to the children.
Pacino, who is notoriously private about his personal life to the point of sometimes leaving the house dressed in disguise, has admitted that his weakness for actresses may have something to do with the fact that he never settled down.
"I've lived with women since I was 16 and they have all been actresses. Every time I get started with an actress I say, 'hey maybe we shouldn't enter into this'.
"Then I get the classic thing where they say 'I'll give up acting.' And then I'll say 'what the devil do you mean? Don't give up anything for me'."
One of his closest friends, Lawrence Grobel, has put Pacino's aversion to marriage down to his childhood.
"He has a take on marriage. His father left when he was young. He doesn't want to get involved in a bad marriage. And he can be difficult sometimes, and I think he's aware of that.
"To unravel why Al has never married is like onions; there's layers and layers of stuff."
An only child, Pacino had a close but often fraught relationship with his mother, who was highly protective of him and rarely allowed him to leave the house, except on their frequent outings to the cinema.
He was 22 when she passed away, leaving him devastated. Prior to her death, they had not been getting along and she never got to witness his acting success. Some years later, he tracked down his father, who left for California when Al was a child, and they were reconciled.
A chronic insomniac who wears sunglasses night and day to ease his profound shyness, in real life, Pacino is said to be the opposite of the tough guy characters he plays -- a very gentle, compassionate man.
He once commented that it was liberating to act the hard man because he could say things he would never say in real life.
Decades ago, he left behind the drink and drug binges that stained his early stardom, and kicked a two-pack-a-day smoking habit to protect his voice. Today, his only weaknesses are cappuccino and herbal cigarettes, his greatest craving spending time with his children.
As he approaches his 72nd birthday, it seems that fatherhood could be on the cards again following his current girlfriend's recent announcement she is feeling broody and would like to have his baby.