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Al Pacino was glad he lost an Oscar because he was too high

Al Pacino reluctantly attended his first Oscar ceremony in 1974, when he was nominated for Best Actor but didn't win, which is good because he couldn't move.

Al Pacino in The Godfather

By the time Al Pacino was 36 years old, he’d been nominated for four Oscars. Controversially, he was placed in the Supporting Actor category for the first Godfather movie, which kind of soured him on the Oscars after that. The first ceremony he attended was in 1974, when he was nominated for detective movie Serpico, where he was shocked to discover that it wasn’t an hour long.


In a fascinating Playboy interview with Pacino which took place in 1979, while he was filming William Friedkin’s Cruising, Pacino discussed his distain for the Oscars. Regarding The Godfather category fraud, Pacino said; “That was outrageous. It’s things like that that get you a little sour. I decided to pass the ceremonies by.”

“There were certain people around me who wanted to write a letter, who wanted to announce that I would not accept the nomination. I would always say, ‘Let it go. Let it go. Don’t make waves.’ But then, even though I didn’t go, I watched it on TV. I felt bad. I didn’t care for that kind of contradiction.”

Regarding the 1974 ceremony, Pacino said, “I was at the Oscars once, for Serpico. That was the second time I was nominated. I was sitting in the third or fourth row with Diane Keaton. Jeff Bridges was there with his girl. No one expected me to come. I was a little high.”

“Somebody had done something to my hair, blew it out or something, and I looked like I had a bird’s nest on my head, a real mess. I sat there and tried to look indifferent because I was so nervous. Any time I’m nervous, I try to put on an indifferent or a cold look.”

Al Pacino in Serpico

“At one point, I turned to Jeff Bridges and said, ‘Hey, looks like there won’t be time to get to the Best Actor awards.’ He gave me a strange look. I said, ‘It’s over; the hour is up.’ He said, ‘It’s three hours long.’ I thought it was an hour TV show. Can you imagine that?”

“And I had to pee—bad. So I popped a valium. Actually, I was eating valium like they were candy. Chewed on them. Finally came the Best Actor. Can you imagine the shape I was in? I couldn’t have made it to the stage. I was praying, ‘Please don’t let it be me. Please.’ And I hear, ‘Jack Lemmon.’ I was just so happy I didn’t have to get up, because I never would have made it.” Check out our guide the best drama movies.