In a moment that still seems to linger in the half-light of a private bathroom, legendary star of stage and screen Al Pacino recited a monologue from the 1999 film 'Any Given Sunday' into the mirror.
After splashing cool water in his face, Pacino, a film icon widely regarded as one of the finest actors of his generation, stared hollowly at his age-ravaged reflection - and suddenly saw his lips begin to move. He didn't know where the motion came from, but with the instincts of a lifelong performer, he followed it.
‘I don't know what to say really,’ began the locker room speech he'd memorized nearly fifteen years ago, but hadn't thought of since.
The film, directed by Oliver Stone from a script co-written with John Logan, depicts a fictional professional football team called the Miami Sharks coached by Pacino and owned by Cameron Diaz. It received mixed reviews.
‘You know when you get old in life, things get taken from you,’ he whispered. ‘I mean that...that's part of life. But you don't realize that til you start losing things.’
Eyes moist, hands clutching the sink, Pacino paused a long moment. Then, finally, he went on: ‘You find out life's this game of inches.’
Swallowing, bringing up eyes famous for their luminosity and expressiveness to meet their counterparts in the streaked bathroom mirror, his voice started to gain strength.
The sight of his own, endlessly photographed face carried him back decades to the first moment he knew there might be something special about him - his title role in ‘The Godfather’. His breakout performance in that undisputed masterpiece both launched and overshadowed his entire subsequent career, glittering with iconic roles though it was.
But it wasn't his casting as Michael Corleone that did it for him, any more than it was the critical and commercial success the film enjoyed. It was the moment when the studio insisted that he be fired - only to relent after seeing the dailies of his performance in the famous restaurant scene.
‘Because that's what living is!’ the 73 year-old found himself screaming in the empty twilight of near-dawn. ‘The six inches in front of your face!’
The loudness of his own voice seeming to shock him, Pacino fell silent for a moment, then went through the rest of the lines in an even tone.
‘Now,’ he said, his photographic memory conjuring the words on the page of the script he'd once memorized, like so many others. ‘What are you going to do?’