Al Pacino to Play Joe Paterno in Biopic

Published 3 years ago by

Al Pacino Cast as Joe Paterno in Biopic Al Pacino to Play Joe Paterno in Biopic

After tackling numerous high profile roles throughout his career – The Godfather, SerpicoDog Day Afternoon, ScarfaceHeat, and more – Academy Award winner Al Pacino’s next challenge will be the portrayal of legendary Penn State football coach, Joe Paterno.

ICM Partners, who represent both Pacino and Paterno author Joe Posnanski, is packaging the film, which will be based on Paterno’s life adapted from Posnanski’s New York Times Bestseller. So far, the package includes Pacino in the lead role and Pacino’s manager, Rick Nicita, as producer.

According to Deadline, instead of focusing merely on Paterno’s fall from grace and the sex abuse scandal involving Penn State University, the film will be a biopic, chronicling the life and career of a man many consider to be the greatest football coach of all time.

Paterno, often referred to as Joe Pa by Penn State fans and students, accumulated over 400 wins as a college football coach in a career that spanned six decades. He was dismissed from his head coaching post at Penn State in 2011, after serving 45 years with the University for his involvement in the scandal that broke that year. Subsequently, the NCAA vacated all of Paterno’s wins that dated back to 1998, 111 in all. Paterno died in January from lung cancer.

Pacino is no stranger to taking on roles of real-life controversial figures. Pacino played assisted suicide advocate, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, in the 2010 HBO Films biopic You Don’t Know Jack, a performance for which he won his second  Emmy Award.

Al Pacino in HBOs You Dont Know Jack Al Pacino to Play Joe Paterno in Biopic

Al Pacino in ‘You Don’t Know Jack’

Obviously, the project is still in the earliest stages of development, with no script, no director attached and no deal made as of yet. It is also unclear whether the film would be made as a big budget feature or as a cable TV movie.

One thing is certain. Pacino is a great talent who could bring a lot of authenticity to the role. He previously played fictional football coach Tony D’ Amato in Olver Stone’s Any Given Sunday.

As always, we’ll keep you updated as this untitled project continues to take shape.


Sources: Deadline

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  1. Not for me

  2. Seems like a perfect casting choice. Both from Brooklyn, voices are similar, close enough.

    I just hope for the truth, and not what most media outlets spew about it. If it truly is about Paterno and his life it better not make it seem like Joe had anymore to do with things than he did. Which if you know is basically he was told something in not much detail happened ONCE, and didn’t know what to do and waited a Weekend to tell his higher-ups. And thats really it…but of course that’s not enough for most media outlets.

    If this is a true biopic it really will only come at the end when he is fired after the board gets pressured into doing it by the media, and his heartbreak basically helps lead to his death.

    But right now it seems like a cash grab on the heels of a tragedy and the monster in Sandusky who did it… until I see it is a true biopic.

    • Unfortunately Joe Pa waiting a weekend was not the only thing he did wrong… Even he admitted that much.

      • Elaborate

    • To me it doesn’t matter if he held this information only once. His wins as a coach do not out way his decision to hold this information. Fans will remember him for the wins. Everyone else will remember he could have blown the whistle a long time ago but chose not too. Protecting Sandusky is almost as bad as the act.

    • As a PSU fan, I agree with you to some extent. I doubt anyone on here will agree, judging by the comments. You can’t get non-fans to understand the greatness of the man b/c of the horrible events that obscured him.

      It’s such an ugly situation for me, b/c my family has been going to PSU for generations. Millions of blue-collar Pitt & Philly families loved this man, as I did. He was the epitome of class. Then, everything was shattered.

      I don’t know what he was told, or what he actually knew. I do think that he was too tuned in to football that his brain had no idea how to process something like that. Not saying that is right, but it’s what I think. As you said, though, he was smeared by the media even before anything was confirmed. I don’t even know the extent of what he was told to this date.

  3. It all seems a bit too soon. No one will watch and not think of the Sandusky scandal. They’ll be criticized for having too little of it or having too much of it. They can’t win.

  4. At least it’s a role where Al can be great in. We need him to do more dramas.

  5. Al Pacino is excellent casting but, as a feature film, this can’t be about Paterno’s life and career. Average moviegoer will be interested only in the last ten years: from the time Paterno knew of Sandusky’s pedophilia.

    • If they do what they should, you will see the greatness of the man and the tragedy that struck him down. Or should I say stupidity? Being a Penn State fan, I think it’s both, but it depends on who you ask.

      The thing they need to portray, which is indicative of most great minds in football, politics, or whatever, is that they put all their energy and focus into their craft that they don’t understand how to operate in normal society.

      Ex. Many great statesmen, such as Ben Franklin, wrecked their social lives because his mind was geared toward other things that made him a great man. If they made a miniseries about Franklin, it would be a wild success.

  6. Given Pacino’s own age and the makeup required, it wouldn’t make much sense for him to play Paterno much younger than he is now. Besides the most recent years are the most interesting. Obviously not from a football point of view, but I think that is a side story. It’s really about what happened behind the scenes. Wonder what his family thinks about this.

  7. I have to say no even as a cable movie.
    There’s just no way to make this a movie that feels worth watching. 1st off we already know it will end in a terribly tragic way. 2nd if it focuses on the 1st 95% of his career people (including me) will say it’s just a fluff piece to try to change the publics opinion but if it focuses on the last 5% and the scandal people (including me) will say it’s just trying to sensationalize the terrible events of the Sandusky trial. It’s a loose loose every way you look at it…
    Now just as a movie fan and a football fan combined I don’t want to see this movie. 99% of all football movies are terrible and Pacino was terrible in Any Given Sunday so based on that I again have to say no to this film.

  8. There are some things that do not need to be made into movies. This is one.

  9. I will not be seeing this, ever. I have no interest in padding the pockets of Hollywood bigwigs who want nothing more than to leech as much money as they can off of a movie that will made as quickly as possible to bank on the recent publicity while it’s still fresh like the soil on Paterno’s grave.

  10. Here are the stars they are considering for the role of Sandusky –

  11. Not even remotely interested and listening to people like ACE try and justify Joe Paterno’s inaction makes it even less appealing to me.

  12. “You’re tearing this team apart!!!!”

  13. ICM Partners, who represent both Pacino and Paterno author Joe Posnanski, is packaging the film, which will be based on Paterno’s life adapted from Posnanski’s New York Times Bestseller. So far, the package includes Pacino in the lead role and Pacino’s manager, Rick Nicita, as producer.