Al Pacino’s Public Service Announcement
CNN has posted a video of Al Pacino talking with Larry King. King asks Pacino about his alcoholism, and Pacino admits that he’s not sober. Pacino is definitely sober in the interview, or at least he’s not a slurring lunatic. His hair is curled and flipped and bouffanted as if he were a stately actress of his age, rather than an actor.
He talks about almost turning down Dog Day Afternoon. He says that his mentor Charlie Long talked him into an abstinence from alcohol. His agent or manager also worked on him until he agreed to quit drinking. He quit drinking for two days, read the movie script and managed to get back the part that he had turned down.
King asks him when he quit drinking, and he hems and haws and doesn’t answer the question. He says it’s a gradual thing and a gradation, and that quitting drinking is “unscrambling the brains.” Well, I think I can relate to that.
Pacino says that the reason that alcoholism is currently such a vilified disease is solely due to drunk driving. He quotes Laurence Olivier and generally makes being an alcoholic seem like a cool thing or like it’s an essential thing for a career in the arts.
I just have to say that I have very little respect for Al Pacino. For one thing, alcohol abuse affects the health and finances and relationships and family dynamics of millions of people who aren’t millionaire actors. To give them the impression that as long as they don’t drink and drive, it’s not so bad is pretty irresponsible. The message I took from his interview is that sobriety is not something that’s required and that alcoholism is a time honored tradition that makes you a hep cat. Yep, I used the phrase hep cat. Al Pacino in an old lady bouffant calls the phrase to mind.
Well, sobriety’s not required if you can drink sensibly. If you can drink sensibly, then you probably aren’t an alcoholic. You can stop with one or two. But can you?