The current issue of GQ has an interview with director Francis Ford Coppola in which he takes a swipe at Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson. In his view the trio have gone from raging bulls to ageing bulls, becoming lazy, risk averse and "living off the fat of the land". "I met Pacino and De Niro when they were really on the come", the director said "They were young and insecure. Now Pacino is very rich, maybe because he never spends any money; he just puts it in his mattress. De Niro was deeply inspired by Zoetrope and created an empire and is wealthy and powerful". Meanwhile he said that Jack Nicholson had been waylaid from serious filmmaking by the lure of the Hollywood lifestyle.
But I wonder if Coppola doesn’t see a little irony in his comments. Coppola has directed some magnificent films in his time most notably The Godfather and The Godfather part II, but he hasn’t exactly been living the life on the edge himself. He has a new film coming out shortly but it had been a decade since his last directorial credit (John Grisham’s The Rainmaker – hardly the stuff of Sundance). Over the past ten years he has devoted his energies to executive producing roles and more tellingly a range of pasta sauces, a Californian vineyard, a luxury resort in Belize and a San Francisco restaurant.
Coppola has nothing to prove as a director; Pacino, De Niro and Nicholson have nothing left to prove as actors. It just struck me as amusing that he would accuse them of losing their edge when he has hardly been on the edge himself.