Al Pacino talks about his TIFF movie, The Humbling, and says although he’s playing the role of a struggling, aging star, it’s not him.

Among the top celebrities who’ll be gracing the streets and movie theatres of Toronto for the next few days, Al Pacino is by far one of the most exciting. The veteran actor who continues to challenge himself and impress audiences will appear next in The Humbling.

Based on the novel of the same name by Pulitzer Prize winner author Philip Roth—and directed by Barry Levinson, the award-winning director of beloved hits such as Good Morning, Vietnam and DinerThe Humbling follows the unfortunately hilarious misadventures of celebrated stage actor Simon Axler (Al Pacino) who falls into a deep depression when he realizes he may be losing his natural gifts. While wallowing in self-pity, Simon meets and begins a fated relationship with a young former-lesbian, Pegeen (Greta Gerwig), the daughter of some of Simon’s close friends. Pegeen reignites his mojo and gives Simon the hope he needs, but when her former lovers come crashing in between them and her parents begin loudly voicing their outrage, Simon could finds himself back at square one.

The character of Simon, an actor losing his edge, is not a role many actors would happily accept but Pacino welcomed the challenge. He admitted he was questioned by his peers about taking on such a taxing role of an aging actor but he also stressed that he doesn’t see himself in that way.

“I see it in the distance and it’s not me, it’s just not me,”he explained about the character. “I can try to understand what he’s going through but it isn’t [me]. I have a knowledge of it, I have a knowledge of the world this guy comes from and the drudgery of it and the pain of it but it’s not me.”

And just in case you’re wondering, just because Pacino admits that Simon isn’t him doesn’t mean that he based his portrayal on anyone else either, though in past he has leaned on this method. “It’s great when you get an idea like that,” he in the same interview. “When [Laurence] Olivier in London got the idea of [Shakespeare’s] Richard III by doing a portion of this guy he knew and it turned out to be spectacular, so there’s that too.”


The Humbling also stars Mandy Patinkin, Dianne Wiest and Greta Gerwig, and makes it debut at TIFF on September 4.



—Sarah Khan

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