Al Pacino to Play Joe Paterno: Top 10 Facts You Need to Know

al pacino joe paterno

Acting legend Al Pacino is slated to play (disgraced) college football coaching legend Joe Paterno in a new movie. Here’s what you should know.

1. It’s Based on a Book

al pacino joe paterno movie posnanski

The film will be based on the biography Paterno by Joe Posnanski. It recently debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, but sales have slowed.

2. The Book Was in Progress Way Before the Scandal

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Posnanski was near the end of writing the book and was embedded with the family when the s**t hit the fan. He had to work the scandal into a story that was already well-formed as the rise of an iconic hero. How well he did that is up for debate, and the book has been widely criticized. He wrote this in USA Today: “I suspect I will never have a more difficult task as a writer — I’ve been told by several authors that no biographer in American history has had a book change so drastically in the course of reporting.”

3. The Film Will Highlight Paterno’s Glory as Much as His Disgrace

If it follows the book (see above), the film may draw similar criticism for focusing too little on the Sandusky child-rape scandal and Paterno’s coverup of it, and too much on Paterno’s heyday.

4. The Movie Will Be Produced by Rick Nicita, Pacino’s Manager

Nicita recently launched his own management company with Pacino as an early client. He was previously co-chairman of Morgan Creek Productions and managing partner of CAA, where he managed Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. In April The Hollywood Reporter said his plans for the new business included “getting into the production of Broadway shows, as well as film finance and production.”

5. Pacino Starred as Another Football Coach

In 1999’s Any Given Sunday Pacino played fiery pro football coach Tony D’Amato. It was some of his best work in the last 15 years and made good use of his penchant for screaming.

6. Pacino Starred in Another Biopic

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Pacino starred in another biopic playing another controversial character, “Dr. Death” Jack Kevorkian, in HBO’s You Don’t Know Jack (2010).

7. The Author & Actor Share an Agent

ICM Partners, a talent agency that represents both Posnanski and Pacino, is shopping the movie.

8. It is Unknown Who Will Play Jerry Sandusky

Who is good at playing the worst person who ever lived? Anthony Hopkins maybe?

9. It is Undetermined Whether it Will be a Feature Film or Made for TV

10. Al Pacino is Old

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Al Pacino is 72 years old. Joe Paterno died at 85. So the end-of-life stuff is no problem. But how does he play Paterno as a young man? Bring in Mario Lopez?