Why Al Pacino Kicked Helen Mirren off of the’Devil’s Advocate’ Set

Al Pacino is one of the most respected actors of all time. His filmography coupled with his long list of accolades has earned the Scarface star praise from many of his contemporaries. One such admirer was Helen Mirren, who might have crossed a line just to meet her idol in Pacino. This resulted in Pacino kicking The Queen actor off the movie set.

Helen Mirren only did ‘Phil Spector’ because she wanted to work with Al Pacino

Helen Mirren wearing a black and white dress.
Helen Mirren | Marc Piasecki/WireImage

Mirren has long been a fan of Al Pacino. So much so that the Hobbs & Shaw actor admitted that Pacino was the driving force behind her decision to star in Phil Spector. In the film, Helen Mirren plays a defense attorney defending music producer Phil Spector for murder. When HBO asked Mirren what drew her to the movie, Pacino was one of her answers.

“Really, it was the opportunity to work with Al Pacino and David Mamet,” Mirren said.

She revealed that she was on vacation when she got the call for the part, but she couldn’t pass up the chance to work with Pacino even when on break.

“I had been thinking, ‘Oh, I’m just going to take two or three months off, I’m not going to work for a while, I could do with a break” when the call came,” Mirren said. But I couldn’t resist working with such incredible luminaries of drama and literature. They wanted me to start in four days, but I asked for a week so I could study the script and so forth. They gave me a week and then I was up and running.”

Upon working with Pacino, Mirren couldn’t help but be captivated by the Godfather star.

“Well, for me, the overpowering experience really was to work with Al Pacino and to realize something that I’ve always kind of known but only from a distance – seeing up close what an extraordinary actor he is,” Mirren complimented.

However, this wasn’t the only time Mirren would watch the Oscar-winner’s performance. When the two first encountered each other several decades earlier, Pacino didn’t want Mirren anywhere near him.

Why Al Pacino threw Helen Mirren off of his ‘Devil’s Advocate’ set

Mirren first met Al Pacino on the set of Devil’s Advocate. At the time, Helen Mirren’s husband, Taylor Hackford, directed the 1997 film. Mirren snuck on the set courtesy of her husband to catch Pacino in action.

“My husband told me to keep a low profile,” Mirren told The Sunday Morning Herald.

However, Mirren’s efforts were in vain, and Pacino caught the Oscar winner spying on him.

“But Al spotted me behind hundreds of people and then I saw him talk to my husband, and Taylor then came over and said, ‘I’m sorry, Helen, I’m afraid you’re going to have to leave the set,’” she recalled.

Mirren didn’t seem too upset by Pacino’s reaction. Rather, she understood where he was coming from.

“It’s a weird actor’s thing where you don’t like being looked at by your peers, so he didn’t want me there,” Mirren confided.

But when the two officially worked together years later on Phil Spector, Mirren couldn’t help remind Pacino of the incident.

“I told him, ‘Al, this is one set you can’t throw me off,’” she shared.

The studio had to pay Frank Sinatra a lot of money because Al Pacino improvised this famous scene

Mirren also revealed that Pacino’s devotion to his craft once cost the studio extra money. According to The New Yorker, Pacino went off-script when he sang Frank Sinatra’s It Happened in Monterey. Mirren was once again impressed by Pacino’s skill as a performer.

“It’s just absolutely out there, surreal and brilliant,” Mirren said.

When Pacino lip-synched to Sinatra’s song, Mirren asserted that the studio paid “a huge sum of money for the rights, but it was worth it.”

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