In an exclusive interview with David Rubenstein as part of the 92nd Street Y's People Who Inspire Us series, Hollywood legend Al Pacino shared his thoughts on his illustrious career and the role that got away. The 82-year-old actor looked back on his rise to fame and discussed his decision to turn down the role of Han Solo in the iconic "Star Wars" franchise.
Rejection of Star Wars
Despite being offered a significant sum of money, Pacino revealed that he simply "didn't get" the script for "Star Wars" and ultimately turned down the role that would later be portrayed by Harrison Ford. "Well, I turned down Star Wars," said Pacino.
"They gave me a script called Star Wars... they offered me so much money, but I didn’t understand it, I read it... So I said I couldn't do it. I gave Harrison Ford a career."
Acceptance of The Godfather
Pacino also spoke about a role that he did accept, that of Michael Corleone in the legendary film "The Godfather." The actor shared that he recently re-watched the movie after not seeing it for 25 years and reminisced about a meeting with the film's director Francis Coppola.
Pacino remembered Coppola saying, "'You know, I had a lot of faith in you. And you're failing me,' I'm standing there thinking 'What the f**k, what did I do?'" The actor went on to recall the infamous scene where Michael shoots the cop, saying, "The Sollozzo scene, where Michael shoots the cop.
Coppola pushed that up, because he thought Paramount was about to fire me. I do the scene, they liked it, and they kept me in because I shot someone."
Overcoming On-Set Challenges
Pacino also shared an interesting anecdote about a challenging moment on the set of "The Godfather." "One day, we're shooting, fighting -- 'Say hello to my little friend' -- I shoot thirty rounds, I get hit, the gun goes down, and I'm supposed to be wounded," said Pacino. "I go to pick up the gun, and I put my hand on the barrel.
My hand stuck to it, and I had to go to the hospital. I was out for two weeks." The actor added, "I was gone, but they shot the s*** out of it. They shot so much while I was away. Spielberg came down and had a crack at shooting someone.
Everyone wanted to do it." Pacino's reflection on his career decisions serves as a reminder of the risks and opportunities that come with being a successful actor in Hollywood. And, as he noted, he gave Harrison Ford a career.
The original "Star Wars" film, with Ford as Han Solo, grossed $775.8 million at the worldwide box office on a budget of just $11 million, solidifying Ford's place in the annals of movie history.