Al Pacino says he didn't want to meet Phil Spector before playing him in an upcoming David Mamet film for HBO, because the record producer is no longer the same man Pacino was portraying.
"Phil Spector" focuses on Spector's first trial in the death of actress Lana Clarkson, which ended in a hung jury. Helen Mirren plays his attorney, Linda Kenney Baden. Spector was retried, convicted of second-degree murder, and sentenced to 19 years to life.
Pacino told the Television Critics Association on Friday that he was surprised to recently come across a photo of him and Spector, taken about two decades ago. Though they were captured in the same shot, they had never met — and Pacino had no desire to change that before taking on the role.
"I didn't meet him because he's in prison and he's already been convicted. This person I'm playing is the guy who was there before he was convicted," Pacino said.
"So I thought — not that Phil Spector would have seen me," he added. "I didn't try, simply because I thought, 'Well, you know. It's a different Phil Spector now.'"
Another reason a meeting may not have helped: Pacino said he didn't feel that he was playing Spector, the man. Rather, he said, he played Mamet's conception of Spector.
"When I did Roy Cohn [in "Angels in America"], I don't think that Tony Kushner was writing about Roy Cohn. I think he was writing about this idea of the mythical Roy Cohn, in the same way Shakespeare wrote about Richard III. As has been proven, you know, this is not what probably was the real Richard III."
"Phil Spector" premieres March 24.