Al Pacino made an appearance at a Peggy Siegal event on Thursday afternoon to promote his new film, “The Humbling,” directed by Barry Levinson. The lunch was held just hours after news broke that director Mike Nichols had died, and Pacino — who won the Emmy for starring as Roy Cohn in HBO’s “Angels in America” — was devastated. The actor shared some of his favorite memories of Nichols with Variety.
“I loved him so much. I don’t know what I can say. I’m shocked. I knew he had a problem with his heart. I’m kind of shaken by it. At this point, it’s hard for me to mention it, except that if you want to measure civility, that’s the highest I’ve seen anybody go. He was truly a human with such a high-level of sophistication. Certainly, the other day, I was thinking about wanting to work with him again. That’s how alive he was to me.
“I’d say yes to anything he asked me to do. It was such an honor to work with him — and to know him. We almost did a movie a while back, way back in the ’70s, ‘The Last Tycoon.’ And I was almost in one of his other movies, ‘Catch-22.’
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“He was the greatest director, because what a director does is he gives you a feeling that you can do anything and creates an atmosphere on set that is so connected to pursuing whatever you’re doing and freedom and security all at the same time. He makes you feel like you’re taken care of. He frees you as an actor, because you feel somebody is there as the great censor. That breadth in his thinking, his talent.
“On ‘Angels in America,’ the thing that I think of is him sitting in the chair, no matter where we were, and taking it all in with ease. I never saw any risibility whatsoever. He was there and you could see him thinking and you’d go, ‘What is he going to do?’ And all of a sudden, he’d do a little thing, just touch something a little way. I’m going to miss him.'”