Al Pacino On Why He Turned Down Apocalypse Now – Exclusive

The Irishman – Al Pacino

by Ben Travis |
Published on

Of all his iconic roles – Tony Montana! Frank Serpico! Vincent Hanna! – the quintessential Al Pacino character remains Michael Corleone of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather trilogy. As well as playing the part three times in 1972, 1974 and 1990, the actor could also have ended up in one of Coppola’s other classics. He was offered the role of Benjamin Willard in Apocalypse Now – but decided not to take the trip upriver with the filmmaker, the character instead being portrayed by Martin Sheen.

Speaking to Empire in the world exclusive The Irishman issue – on sale Thursday 5 September, and available to pre-order online here – Pacino spoke about his decision to turn down a role in the ultimate Vietnam War epic. “I just wasn’t ready to do it,” he says. “I was at a certain point in my life and not in the right space for going away and doing a movie like that. I remember Coppola saying at the time, ‘Pacino won’t do a film unless you do it at his house.’ I said, ‘Yes, come over to my place. We can do Apocalypse Now here. Look, we’ll get somewhere with it.” Considering the film’s famously tortured production, Pacino probably got off lightly by deciding against joining the project.

Apocalypse Now
Martin Sheen as Benjamin Willard in Apocalypse Now

Coppola recently cut a new version of the film to mark its 40th anniversary – Apocalypse Now: Final Cut – with a 181 minute runtime that falls between the shorter original cut, and the lengthy 2001 Redux. The new version, which is also a 4K restoration from the original camera negative, hit UK cinemas recently, and is being released on Blu-ray on 16 September.

Read the full Al Pacino interview in the new issue of Empire, on sale 5 Sept, and pre-order your copy online here with free UK P&P. The Irishman issue is the only place you can find the full story of 2019’s most anticipated film, with exclusive new interviews with Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and more, plus never-before-seen images from the movie.

Empire – October 2019 – The Irishman cover

_The Irishman_comes to Netflix on 27 November, preceded by a run in select UK cinemas from 8 November.

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