This piece was written as a supplement to the AMC DVD_TV Enhanced Version of Scent of a Woman, which aired in March 2007.
Al Pacino, a True Method Actor
Stories of Al Pacino becoming lost in his roles abound – how when he was playing a lawyer and a friend told him he was having conveyance problems, he asked to see his friend’s contract, how he did shifts in a café, tossing pancakes, to prepare himself to play a short-order cook in Frankie & Johnny, how he fell down with his eyes open, as a blind man would, while filming Scent of a Woman.
Legend has it that Pacino became so immersed in his Scent of a Woman character that he actually couldn’t see during filming. Some weeks after the completion of principal photography, Chris O’Donnell received a note of congratulations from Pacino: “Although I didn’t see you, I know you were great.”
Even when he is not performing, Pacino tends to focus on living in a character. ''That's what I do when I'm not working—I learn roles,'' he reports. ''If I'm not appearing anywhere onstage or making a movie, I'm usually learning some role or practicing it or getting involved in some workshop. I can recite Hamlet for you practically verbatim. I can give you Othello or Iago… Sometimes you learn a lot by a role that isn't quite right for you. Sometimes you learn by falling on your face – you learn through the struggle.”
“Pacino Returns to a Favorite Role,” New York Times, 10/23/83
Scent of a Woman Production Notes, Universal Studios Press Release