The great actor, who turned 75 on 25th April,
on fame, his tailspin at 22, and the enigmatic Michael Corleone.
by Francin Cohen in 'The Guardian'
I’ve learned to live without anonymity. I haven’t been in a grocery store or subway for years. It’s hard for my children to go out publicly with me. Fame is different now than it was 20 years ago – I don’t know what the hell it is now! If I have a rare time of being somewhere and not being recognised, it’s a luxury.
It’s never been about money for me. There were times when I was young when I could have used money: after college I was often unemployed and at one time I slept in a storefront for a few days. But I’ve never been materialistic. Except that I am, of course, because my lifestyle makes me a spender!
My grandfather, James Gerardi, taught me about work. He was a plasterer and work – any kind of work – was the joy of his life. So I grew up wanting to – it’s what I’ve always chased. The joy of work is what keeps me going.
The conclusion of my teachers was that I needed a dad. I wasn’t an out-of-control teenager, but I was close. My parents divorced when I was two and my father wasn’t in my life from then. I wanted to be different with my children [Julie, 25, and twins Anton and Olivia, 14]. I wanted to be responsible to them, so I divide my time between two coasts.
Kids changed my perspective. Before I had my three, I’d walk around in my own head, not noticing anything. Acting used to be everything; now, because of them, it’s just a small part.
I’m not lacking in friends. We can all get caught up in our lives, our careers, but I’ve always understood there’s a certain tenacity needed for friendship.
The lowest point of my life was losing my mother, Rose, and grandfather – they died within a year of each other. I was 22 and the two most influential people in my life had gone, so that sent me into a tailspin. I lost the 70s in a way, but then I gave up drinking in 1977 and decided to focus on the work.
I understand the value and power of social media, although I don’t really do it myself. I have a Facebook page that 5.4m people “like”. What does that mean? I don’t know, although I do appreciate that these platforms are good for getting your message out there.
Michael Corleone in The Godfather was and still is the most difficult role I’ve played. I didn’t see him as a gangster; I felt his power was his enigmatic quality. Unfortunately the studio couldn’t see that at first and were thinking of firing me. It was during my early career, a major movie with Marlon Brando, and no one other than Francis [Ford Coppola] wanted me for the part.
My grandparents came from a town in Sicily called Corleone. Fate? Yes, maybe – it’s very strange. But then life has so many twists and turns.
People think there is rivalry between me and Robert De Niro. I know Bobby pretty well. He’s a friend and he and I have gone through similar things. I love what he does with comedy; it’s pure genius.
I believe I have reached my stride, which is why I persist. As long as you have passion for the art, keep working, because age catches up with you.
Courtesy: The Guardian