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TCA press tour: Al Pacino takes on Dr. Jack Kevorkian for HBO

January 14, 2010 |  6:12 pm

Jack When he agreed to play Jack Kevorkian in the HBO  movie “You Don’t Know Jack,” Al Pacino was not just taking on a living person who is familiar to many of us from the nightly news. He was also slipping into the skin of one of the most controversial figures of our era.

Kevorkian is the most public face of the assisted suicide movement, and this movie focuses on him as a crusader who is willing to sacrifice everything for his beliefs. “We didn’t set out to do a movie about assisted suicide,” writer Adam Mazer pointed out. “We wanted to make a movie about Jack Kevorkian.”

Sitting on the TCA panel in sunglasses and goatee with hair raffishly spiky, Pacino teased, “Come, you’ll like it!” as his costars Susan Sarandon and Brenda Vaccaro tripped over themselves to explain why they loved working on it so well.
“People who dedicate their complete lives to the absence of anything else in their lives are really fascinating people,” Sarandon said.

Pacino said he was offered the chance to meet Kevorkian, but he turned it down. “I felt with Jack, the script was so complete in its portrait, and I had so much research,” he noted, also pointing out that the Kevorkian he plays in the film is a much younger man. But he seemed ambivalent now about that decision: “Why I didn’t take access to him is a question, and I don’t know why I didn’t.”

When asked about the movie’s title, Pacino insisted that it is apt, “because you don’t know this guy. Hopefully, in the movie, you still don’t. He is more than meets the eye, and that’s part of the appeal for us… It’s a portrait of a zealot I don’t think we see that often."

"You Don't Know Jack" is scheduled to premiere on HBO this spring.

— Joy Press

Photo credit: HBO