Pacino, Al: AFI Life Achievement Award 2007

Al Pacino has received the American Film Institute’s highest honor, its lifetime achievement award. “It means so many things to be honoured like this,” the Godfather star, 67, said at a gala reception in Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre. “It feels great”.

Later, he joked: “Seeing my life in the movies, I have one question, and that is: Why aren’t I in rehab”

Many Hollywood filmmakers, such as Oliver Stone and Andy Garcia, paid tribute to Pacino at the reception. “The depth of your artistry is only more overwhelmed by the generosity of your spirit and your warmth,” said Garcia, who worked with Pacino on The Godfather: Part III and Oceans 13.

Stone, who wrote 1983’s Scarface, lauded the actor’s “wicked sense of humour”. “It is with great love and respect that I say goodnight to the bad guy,” he said, recalling one of Pacino’s famous lines from the gangster movie.

Pacino’s sister, Roberta, also spoke of her brother’s love of performing. “He’s one of the greatest artists who ever lived, according to me,” she said.

The actor is still best known for playing Michael Corleone in the “Godfather” movies, but he won the best actor Oscar for “Scent Of A Woman,” in 1992. In the same year, he was also nominated for best supporting actor for his role in “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

But before his film career took off in the 1970s, Pacino’s first love was the theatre – which was where actor Kirk Douglas first saw him.
“Forty-five years ago I was in a theatre and I thought, ‘Who is that guy'” recalled the 91-year-old. “I look at my little program and it said Al Pacino. “I said to him, ‘You’re going to be a star.’ But I didn’t expect 45 years later to be here.” “You’re Van Gogh,” Douglas said in his tribute. “You’re Modigliani. That’s who you are.”

Pacino recalled that he discovered acting while growing up in New York. “By age three, I was doing Al Jolson,” he said. “I found, in the theatre, this place I could go to. I found this peace.” He said he was looking forward to taking on new projects, including a reunion with Robert De Niro, and a biopic of Salvador Dali.

Pacino has won numerous acting accolades during his career, which spans over 40 years. He has been nominated for an Oscar eight times and was also the recipient of the Golden Globes’ prestigious Cecil B. DeMille career achievement award in 2001.