Five Favorite Films with Andy Garcia

The star of City Island also discusses working with his daughter and his friendship with Al Pacino.

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Andy Garcia

Andy Garcia is truly a modern renaissance man. The Oscar-nominated actor is best known for his roles in such movies as The Godfather Part III, When a Man Loves a Woman, the Ocean's franchise, and The Untouchables, but Garcia also produces, writes, directs, and even composes music for film. As a lifelong music lover, he's also produced Grammy-winning albums for and toured with the band of the legendary Cuban musician Israel "Cachao" Lopez, about whom he also directed a feature-length documentary.

Garcia's latest film is City Island, a dramedy in which he plays the patriarch of a dysfunctional New York family whose propensity for keeping secrets hurtles them (sadly, but often humorously) towards an inevitable confrontation. Andy was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule to chat with RT about his Five Favorite Films, his ongoing friendship with Al Pacino, his acting process, and what it's like to have children in the industry. Like many before him, Garcia admitted that his Five Favorites often rotate: "These are the ones that came to me today; you know, tomorrow, the list might change. Probably three out of the five might not change, but the list can kind of change, depending on what you remember." Read on for the full interview!

The Godfather (1972, 100% Tomatometer) & The Godfather Part II (1974, 98% Tomatometer)
The Godfather Well, you'd have to start with The Godfather. You'd almost have to put Part I and II together, because they were so close together, and they're so innately tied into one another. Not to exclude Part III as a bad movie, but... I don't see it that way, but I can't vote for Godfather III because I'm in it. So I have to group those two together. I think those are joined at the hip, in a way.

I believe Francis Ford Coppola said something to the effect of the third Godfather film serving as an epilogue to the first two.

Right, exactly. It functions in a different way. Although, I must say that, every day of my life, I get people screaming at me in the streets, saying, "Hey, when's Godfather IV?" I think they look at it as an ongoing serial, and they want to know more about what's going on. So, I'm sure there's still a franchise there if Francis wanted to approach it or Paramount wanted to approach it. I'm not sure how the dynamics of that would work these days, but I know the interest is there, only because I'm field testing it every day. Well, in the sense that I'm sort of like the barometer because people in the street go, "Hey man, when's it going to happen?"

It certainly sounds like you're up for it, if it happens, but regardless of that, does it ever get to a point where you tire of hearing it everywhere you go?

No, no, not at all. I'm honored to have been associated with those films, are you kidding? I mean, Godfather Part I was a movie that, certainly my generation of actors, if not every generation after it, was deeply inspired by. To be part of that was an extraordinary blessing. I don't get tired of it. If someone says, "When's Godfather IV?" I say, "I'm waiting along with you." If they want to do it, that would be an extraordinary thing. Working with Francis is like working with Aristotle. He's an extraordinary creative mind; I found that to be very stimulating.

Being There (1979, 95% Tomatometer)
Being There Then I would have to go with Hal Ashby's Being There. I was struck by the tone of the film and the extraordinary performances in it, starting obviously with Peter Sellers. It was one of the most sublime movies I had ever seen.

When The Pink Panther 2 opened, you mentioned how you had grown up watching Peter Sellers in the original Pink Panther films.

Right, sure, of course. He was sort of the comedic hero of the 1960s, you know. So he did a lot of those movies, and After the Fox, and I was always a big fan of his. So when they called about doing the Pink Panther film, it was just a gas to be in that credit sequence where I could be alongside an animated Pink Panther, and the [Henry] Mancini theme. Plus, it had a very nice cast, and I had good fun with it. Lighthearted.

Serpico (1973, 92% Tomatometer)
Serpico Then I would have to -- and it's hard to pick just one of his -- but I would go with Sidney Lumet's Serpico. Again, a performance-driven film, but there's a sort of a reality to Sidney Lumet's movies. I had the great pleasure of working with him, and there's a reality, a sort of documentary quality to his films, you know? And it's hard to pick from the lot of his films, whether it be Network or Dog Day Afternoon or Serpico. But there's something about Serpico that has an emotional depth to it that was very touching. And also, it's easy to identify with someone who's trying to fight against the system and rise above it and do well, and the price that he pays for doing that. And Al Pacino's performance in that movie is quite extraordinary.

Knowing that you were a fan of his, what was it like to meet him and work with him in Godfather III?

He was extremely generous, you know, very easygoing. He's all about the work, and about the enjoyment of the work. We got to become very close allies in the movie. He treated me like his nephew and I treated him like my uncle. It was a very warm experience. He wasn't taking me under his wing from an acting standpoint; he would never sort of presume or condescend to you in that way. It was an embrace from the point of view of, "We're in this thing together, and this is a family, which is sort of a metaphor for the film. Just come on board. There's nothing you need to prove; there's nothing you need to do to sit alongside us in this theatrical experience." So in that sense... I'm not talking about it in the sense that he was "showing me the ropes" or anything like that, you know what I mean? He wouldn't presume to even feel like he needs to do that. It was more like, from a familiar point of view. You know, you're a fellow actor, and coming from the stage, he knows that the stage is the great equalizer. [laughs] Everyone steps on it with equal energy, so everybody's taking care of each other. It was a joy to work with him. And, you know, we remain good friends to this day. I mean, he's still my "Uncle Michael."

Mon Oncle (1958, 94% Tomatometer) & Playtime (1967, 100% Tomatometer)
Mon Oncle Okay, I'm going to do a hybrid again. Jacques Tati's Mon Oncle and Playtime; I'm going to put those two together. One's sort of spun off the other, in a way, but you could put either, because it's really about Tati himself, and the conceptual art of his films. The film that has almost no dialogue, just gibberish and music and human behavior, and staging. Competition is staging, which I found fascinating. They seduce you into paying attention to the simplest of details.

The General (1927, 92% Tomatometer)
The General I would go back to Buster Keaton's The General. The accomplishment of that movie in those days, you know... First of all, Buster Keaton as an actor -- and as a comedian -- but as an actor really, was... again, I think the word "sublime" comes across, because of that sort of deadpan quality that he had. When he was still, you felt as though his feet had roots, and they were sort of embedded and grounded into the ground. And, you know, a hurricane could come and it would never push him over. So that sense of stillness that he had, that had this kind of emotional weight inside of it, created juxtaposition to the stuff that he would do. Even if he was moving around, there was always a sense of a "man against the world" kind of thing that was always very compelling. But that movie, what he did with that movie, with that train, and the kind of stunts he was doing on his own, and just running around... I mean, just the accomplishment of that movie from a technical standpoint in those days was quite something. So that's my list as of today.

Next, Garcia talks about his Marlon Brando impersonation, his acting process, and working alongside his real life daughter.