Al Pacino rose to fame in the early 1970s and remained one of the most sought-after leading actors throughout the rest of the 20th century. From the early 2000s, following his 60th birthday, Pacino demonstrated his diverse talents with appearances in Insomnia (2002) and S1m0ne (2002), the latter of which he plays a struggling film director.
Pacino is best known to many as a wise-cracking New Yorker who puts in stylish performances, with Academy Award nominations under his belt for his role as Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972)and The Godfather Part II (1974).
He is also among the most famous smokers on the planet — a status helped in no small part by his role in Scarface (1983), which shows Al Pacino smoking Cuban cigars in many scenes as a symbol of his character Tony Montana's success.
So who is this charismatic Cuban smoker, and what has kept him at the top of his game for over 50 years? Let's take a look in more detail at Al Pacino and his long-held association with cigars.
Who is Al Pacino?
Alfredo James Pacino was born in New York City on April 25th, 1940. Following his parents' divorce, 2-year-old Pacino and his mother moved to the Bronx to live with his maternal grandparents, James and Kate Gelardi — Italian immigrants from Corleone in Sicily with a name that would later give Pacino his breakthrough role in The Godfather.
Growing up, Pacino saw little of his father. His grandparents and mother were protective of him that, on the few occasions Pacino left the house, it was often only to go to the movies. He would perform the parts for his grandparents when he got home and was also known to fabricate details about his past when talking to classmates at school.
Pacino started drinking and smoking at a very early age and would go on to become one of the most famous smokers on the planet. While filming Scent of a Woman (1992), Pacino reportedly smoked with his co-stars off-set but refused to cut or light anyone's cigars because he remained in character as a blind war veteran.
Rise to fame
In the early 1960s, Pacino lost his mother and grandfather in close succession. A turbulent decade followed, but again acting proved to be an escape, and in 1969 he made his cinematic debut in Fred Coe's comedy-drama Me, Natalie (1969). After signing with the talent agency Creative Management Associates, he secured representation the following year.
Just two years after that, in 1972, Pacino earned global fame for his portrayal of Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather. Despite the studio's objections, Pacino was chosen ahead of Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and another emerging talent named Robert De Niro.
The star's upward trajectory was set from that moment on. A surprisingly varied career has seen him play everything from gangland villains to romantic leads, including his role opposite Michelle Pfeiffer in the underrated 1991 romantic comedy-drama Frankie & Johnny.
What is Al Pacino best known for?
While he has appeared on stage and the small screen, Al Pacino is best known as a leading light in Hollywood movies. His New York accent and Italian looks have led to several appearances in mobster movies, but he can also play the good guy. This versatility led to a well-received showdown with Robert De Niro in the 1995 Michael Mann movie Heat (not to mention the greatest shootout scene in cinematic history).
One of Pacino's most well-known lines in Heat resulted from a long day's shooting as, after repeated takes, the star decided to go a little extra on the cut that made the finished movie. His character, Lieutenant Vincent Hanna, delivers the immortal putdown: "She's got a GREAT ass, and you've got your head all the way up it!" Co-star Hank Azaria's reaction in the film is genuine, as he admits he was "actually terrified" by the ferocity of Pacino's delivery.
But Pacino's gangland characters will undoubtedly be his lasting legacy. Michael Corleone, Pacino's protagonist in The Godfather trilogy, propelled the actor to stardom with critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination. Meanwhile, Pacino again put in a captivating performance in Scarface as ill-fated Tony Montana, a character rarely seen without a Cohiba cigar or two by his side.
The cigar legacy of Al Pacino
Scenes of Al Pacino smoking cigars are common throughout the star's films. Scarface is perhaps the best example of this, with Cuban cigars featuring in most scenes once Pacino's character Tony Montana hits the big time. Because of the Cuban embargo, the smokes featured in the film are likely Cohiba Cigars, or at least something similar.
Pacino's on-screen cigar legacy has continued in recent years. In 2019s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino tells an alternative history of the Charles Manson and Sharon Tate story. Pacino appears as Hollywood agent Marvin Schwarz, who tells Leonardo Di Caprio's character how he loves to screen a movie with a glass of cognac in one hand and a Cuban cigar in the other.
If you want to try a Pacino-style smoke, we'd suggest you go for the 6 x 60 Cohiba Black Gigante, a bestseller and at your local Casa de Montecristo store. Fat enough to satisfy even Tony Montana, Cohiba Black comes in boxes of 20 and is one of the best ways to try Cuban cigars that pack a true Pacino punch.