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Elliot Norton Reviews; Al Pacino, Paul Benedict, David Wheeler: Richard III


Transferred from videotaped 2/13/1973. Dubbed 3/31/1993.

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Elliot Norton Reviews
Al Pacino, Paul Benedict, David Wheeler: Richard III
Series Description

Boston theatre critic Elliot Norton interviews prominent actors, directors and producers on their craft. (Aired from October, 1958 to 1982. Winner of both Peabody and Tony Awards.) Series release date: 1958

Program Description

Elliot Norton interviews actors Al Pacino (Richard III) and Paul Benedict (Duke of Buckingham), and director David Wheeler about a production of Shakespeare’s “Richard III” in the Church of the Covenant on Newbury St by the Theater Company of Boston. This production drew national attention because of Al Pacino, who had made his breakthrough the year before with The Godfather. Norton notes that Pacino started out opening night with a slight accent and he was nervous that the actor had “gone Mafia.” Pacino blames this on nerves, claiming that when he is nervous, he inadvertently slips into accents.

Pacino explains that he has always wanted to do Shakespeare, because of his love of language. He used to do soliloquies from Hamlet and Macbeth alone in his room and chose to perform Shakespeare scenes for acting classes. He is inspired by the language and feels that as an actor, “language serves you,” as opposed to the other way around. He believes that today people are lazy and do not open their mouths to speak, so this is an opportunity to really use language. Although this is his first professional Shakespeare production, he talks about performing the first half hour of Richard III at the Actor’s Studio three or four years prior. In this production, he did not use a director, which he claims is the “best way to do it,” casting a sheepish look at director David Wheeler.

Norton commends Pacino’s ability to balance playing the demon that kills his way to the crown and the comic that enjoys himself while opening up to the audience. Norton likes the way Pacino addresses the audience and sets it up as a ‘game’ in which he is enjoying himself and encourages the audience to do the same. Pacino feels that he connects so strongly with the audience that when he tells them about the crimes he committed, he starts to wonder about what they will do to him.

Other subjects that were discussed include the decision for modern costumes and the use of the church as a playing space.

Director: Russ Fortier. Taped 2/13/1973.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Talk Show
Performing Arts
Chicago: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Al Pacino, Paul Benedict, David Wheeler: Richard III,” 02/13/1973, GBH Archives, accessed May 26, 2024,
MLA: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Al Pacino, Paul Benedict, David Wheeler: Richard III.” 02/13/1973. GBH Archives. Web. May 26, 2024. <>.
APA: Elliot Norton Reviews; Al Pacino, Paul Benedict, David Wheeler: Richard III. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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