I drew this portrait of Al Pacino as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice in 2011. Actually, I drew a couple of sketches of him in the New York production. One I posted, but never came back. This one sat in my bag folder I carry daily, along with other numerous drawings of possible luminaries I might come across. Last Sunday he was at London’s BFI for the screening of Salome (the film) and WIld Salome (the doco). I was not optimistic as I positioned myself in a pen with a pen sat the beginning of the red carpet.
He made his Broadway debut in Don Petersen’s Does A Tiger Wear A Necktie? at the Belasco Theater on Februry 25, 1969. Although it closed after 39 performances Al received rave reviews, winning the Tony Award.
Al played the Bard’s ruthless Venetian Jewish money lender in the summer of 2010 in a Shakespeare in the Park production of The Merchant of Venice. It transferred to the Broadhurst Theater in October and continued there until February 2011, with Al being nominated for another Tony.
He can be difficult to get a ‘graph from because everyone wants him, and if you do get one, it can be unrecognisable. He’s very quick. The customary ‘Al’ has many variations, especially when you’re caught up in the maelstrom that surrounds Alfredo James Pacino.
A climate change protest in Central London grid-locked the traffic, including Al’s car. We were warned he will be late, will do press and go in… but never fear, he will come back to sign. All that happened, but not necessarily in that order. He would talk to media, then slip over to the baying crowd and sign a bit.
On one such sortie, he came down the line to me, but it was mayhem and he pulled away to head back to the press. He then noticed my sketch and came back, took it and signed a great ‘Al’ on it, gave me the thumbs up, handed it back and moved back to the media scrum. My folder was one sheet lighter and my collection now included one of the greastest actors of our time.