'The Irish': The Twilight Of The Gods: Why Al Pacino And Robert De Niro Have Been Wasting Their Talent For 25 Years | ICON

His status as living legends is as indisputable as his career. One, Robert De Niro, is the best performer in film history according to data from a British studio. The other, Al Pacino, holds enough unforgettable roles to cement a religious faith upon them. "I don't believe in God, I believe in Al Pacino," repeated an evangelized Javier Bardem. But the last decades have not been easy for his blessed. Pacino (New York, 1940) and De Niro (New York, 1943) meet again on the big screen in The Irish, the new Martin Scorsese that opens on November 15 in theaters and on the 27th of the same month on Netflix . Considered by critics as one of the best films so far this year and sure contender in the awards season, it is also seen as the two-star swan song that has been wasting its legendary talent in streaming purgatory for decades. With a recent filmography full of police thrillers with desktop aspirations and comedies rated by some critics as "load-bearing", what have the performers done this century to be closer to the Razzie (prizes for the worst of the year) than the Oscar?

"How big can De Niro's debts be? I think he has a couple of ex-women, the Nobu restaurant and the Tribeca festival, it's not so much … What does he spend the money on then? Pacino also does a lot of crap," he criticized. Anjelica Huston on the trajectory of the two


Since they began their career there in the sixties, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro add 16 Oscar nominations. In the last 26 years, however, between the two they have only achieved one, the one deserved by De Niro as Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Good Side of Things. According to the praises received with his latest film, the drought may be nearing completion. The Irishman tells the story of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a hitman who is credited with more than twenty crimes related to the underworld and allegedly ended the life of the famous trade unionist Jimmy Hoffa, played by Pacino. In an interview with EL PAÍS, they recognize that the project “completes a professional circle” that began in 1974 by sharing a poster – which does not take place – in The Godfather II.

His last collaboration to date, dating from 2008, did not raise the same expectation. In Just Murder they claimed the most cliché in Hollywood by giving life to two police officers about to retire trying to solve a pending case. The film was a box office failure and criticism, whose most forgiving comment was signed by Peter Travers for Rolling Stone: “Some people think that De Niro and Pacino are great to see even reading the phone book. Well, bring that guide. ” The duo regretted so much of having put their face in the thriller that, they say, was the trigger that led them to strive to adapt The Irish, a script that wandered for years through the drawers of large studios without obtaining funding.

But Just Murder is not the only movie they can be ashamed of in the last decade. Pacino has starred in projects that not only failed to premiere in commercial theaters but are questionable even as an ambient sound during the nap. Not even the most fanatic can defend titles like Queens Police, Jack and his twin, Legal types, We are not animals, Corruption and power, The pirates of Somalia or The game of the hanged man. De Niro, although with some success of billboard more like Her parents or the recent Joker, can not boast a good eye to select roles. Under his belt there are potential classic video clips from another decade such as Human Chase, The Great Wedding, Plan in Las Vegas, The Order, Bus 657: The Beat of the Century or Dirty Grandpa, a compilation of jokes present in all the worst lists of the year.

Al Pacino and Robert de Niro in a scene from 'The Irishman', the movie that reminds us that they are great actors.

The recent trajectory of these two myths has been meat of debate in the industry. In 2015, an article by The Guardian explicitly asked De Niro for definitive retirement. "I think he has some kind of severe work addiction," said John Patterson, who compared the agony of his career with Pacino's: "His decline has been no less painful to witness."

Other generation partners – Gene Hackman, Sean Connery or Jack Nicholson – did, and actresses like Oscar-winning Anjelica Huston believe they should take note. “I would not like to see Jack (Nicholson) doing her parents. How big can De Niro's debts be? I think he has a couple of ex-women, the Nobu restaurant and the Tribeca festival, it's not so much … what does he spend the money on then? Pacino also does a lot of crap. He is more experimental, but Bobby (De Niro) … I don't remember the last movie I've seen of him in which he thought he was doing a great job, ”said the interpreter in New York Magazine.

During this time, Pacino and De Niro have concentrated their greatest efforts on films that are distributed directly on streaming platforms, sharing homes with interpreters such as John Travolta, Meg Ryan or Burt Reynolds. Although this VOD (Video On Demand) sounds contemporary, journalists like Nick Hasted of The Independent believe that the phenomenon has been repeated for decades. “When people like Burt Lancaster and Robert Mitchum turned fifty, they left Hollywood to make westerns and thrillers in Europe, where they could keep five years of a name they had lost at home. Today, when the nobility of Hollywood loses its box office kingdom, they are exiled in this type of streaming films ”.

The film industry has little to do today with what one day raised two New Yorkers who appeared as a lightning bolt in the industry boasting method. For a whole generation of moviegoers, betting on either is as complicated as choosing between Pele and Maradona or Lennon and McCartney. They have shared parallel lives, a “close” friendship and, according to their promiscuity, also the way to channel the last years of their career. "My only mantra is‘ keep working, "Pacino confesses, ruling out that the economic obligation is a factor when accepting papers. Vulture calls Pacino "a workaholic, a genius," someone willing to always do whatever he wants no matter what they will say. “He has made so many bad movies that you wonder why he agreed to make them. And then you remember the masterpieces and forgive everything, ”says the publication.

Robert de Niro in 'Dirty grampa' (2016), one of the many expendable films he has made in recent years and that critics have crushed.

So, as Norma Desmond would ask in Billy Wilder's movie The Twilight of the Gods, are the stars the ones that aren't so big anymore, or are the movies the ones that have become small? In the current scenario, the rise of superhero productions and family franchises has suffocated the medium-budget dramas in which such actors can shine. Martin Scorsese himself has recently starred in controversial headlines for his outrageous defense of a way of understanding cinema in danger of extinction and executives of large studios argue that "classic Hollywood dramas will continue to evaporate" from the billboards.

Regarding this paradigm shift, actress Illeana Douglas (Robert De Niro's co-star in films like One of ours) also reflected in the podcast of writer Bret Easton Ellis. “The environment that was created to interpret and make a work of art no longer exists. I mean the atmosphere in which Marty (Scorsese) made all team members take off their watches and if De Niro caught someone watching the time he shouted at him. Now it must be a challenge to work when you barely have an hour to take the shots … and if nobody cares about anything, why will it matter to you? I really believe that De Niro still has that talent, as do the other great actors, but you have to create the right atmosphere for them. ”

And who but Scorsese to address Douglas's claim? In full 2019, the same year as the megalomaniac Avengers: Endgame busts the international box office, four septuagenarians can boast of leading another of the most anticipated premieres of the course. Scorsese (76), Pacino (79) and De Niro (76) have been joined by another of their own, Joe Pesci (76). In The Irish plays the head of the Pennsylvania mafia, Russell Bufalino, a role he has rejected on dozens of occasions. "The only thing that answers me is‘ fuck you, "De Niro explained. Pesci's trajectory is diametrically opposed to that of his colleague in Casino. The Hollywood glamor allergy caused him to abandon his career at the height of it and for posterity will be the acceptance speech of the statuette for the Best Secondary Actor (for One of ours) that synthesized in a concise, “is a privilege, thanks. ” In the last 20 years he has only left the retreat to do three minor roles and an auto-podium advertisement for a chocolate bar. But the everlasting insistence of the trio ended up persuading Pesci to get back in front of the camera.

'The Irish' is the great return of Joe Pesci (in the picture with Robert de Niro in a scene of the film) to the interpretation after his retirement in 1999. Since then he has only made a cameo in 'The Good Shepherd' in 2006 and returned fleetingly to star in 'Love Ranch' (2010).

When, after 210 minutes, black founds the screen and the Irish credit titles appear, many will think that they have witnessed the twilight of two gods and a way of understanding art that will no longer return. However, and to the annoyance of many others, neither Pacino nor De Niro think about short-term retirement. Like Morgan Freeman, Clint Eastwood or Woody Allen, these legends bet that death catches them working, even in movie sets that they would not recommend even their worst enemy. More than anything because, according to De Niro, they are useless: “I don't know what I would do if I didn't interpret. I don't feel old when I look in the mirror so I guess I'll keep going. ” And moviegoers who care about the tainted legacy … well, they will always have the rewind button.

You can follow ICON on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or subscribe here to the Newsletter.