"Where were you during shooting?" Pacino asked.
"I sat in my trailer and watched sports," Stevens said.
"I know a director who actually did direct that way," Pacino said.
"From the trailer," Walken said. "Oh, I know who you mean. Are you going to stay with us, Fish? Sit down. I would call Fish into my trailer and shut the door, and then I would ask Fish if he had sex the night before."
Stevens sat and sighed.
Walken turned to me, expectant.
I said I enjoyed listening to them. Walken laughed and said: "Still, I think you should ask me a question." I said OK, there is a very resonant line in "Stand-Up Guys," when Pacino says, "We're all still here." I asked if that line resonated with them as much as, say, it might for someone who grew up watching their pictures.
"Well, it resonated for me," Pacino said. "Because the dream is still here, and life is like a dream. I don't know what I mean, but things, situations, you see them repeating, resonating all the time at this age, slightly different each time. It's like, I carry this stuff with me all the time, everything that's happened, then suddenly there is a flash of memory, and it's right there again. Does any of that make any sense to you?"
Walken said: "Yes, Al, it does. I come from a show business family. My brothers and I were in show business at 5 years old. Still being here is like a miracle. Actors drop like flies. I am here 185 years later."
"Like flies," Pacino said.
"I saw John Gielgud in a play and he was in his 80s. For a long time, I looked younger than I was," Walken said. "That moment everything catches up, I don't know if it's happened. But you do remember the day your ass fell."
Pacino rolled with laughter. Then righted himself and said: "They call it ageism today! One time when I was younger, I remember I mentioned (Elia) Kazan to somebody. I said 'Wouldn't it be great to get Kazan?' They said he's too old to direct. I remember thinking, 'What the (expletive) does that mean? Too old?' I imagine it's out there (for me), but I have just been working a lot. I don't know if I feel age as much, but I remember years ago, talking to Fish about a play and he said to me, 'Oh, yeah, you play the father?' And I'm like, 'What the (expletive)? The father?' The play is the thing to us, not the age. If you play tuba, you go and play (expletive) tuba!"
Walken looked confused, then said: "The upside, Al, is you play uncles, grandfathers. It's new territory."
"People are coming to me to do Onassis," Pacino said. "There is a push to do Napoleon. I never played King Lear yet, but King Lear is nothing to sneeze at. I saw Chris recently do a reading of 'Romeo and Juliet.'"
"Which is interesting, Al," Walken said. "There are parts it's better to play when you're young. King Lear. You have to be young to get through it. Romeo. If you are Romeo's age, you have no experience yet."
"He's like 15, 16," Pacino said. "And I played him in my teens. I was terrible."
"I played him in my 20s and I was terrible."
They grew up an hourlong subway ride apart in New York, Pacino near the Bronx Zoo, Walken in Astoria, Queens. Pacino's catalyst was a teacher who told him to read the Bible in the school auditorium ("With verve and with gusto, and I didn't know what I was saying but I would give it a lot of gusto"); Walken's was his mother, a classic stage mother ("I doubt I would have stayed with acting if it wasn't for her, because kids at that age, they don't want to be in show business"). Walken went to the Professional Children's School on West 60th Street in Manhattan, and Pacino went to the High School of Performing Arts on West 46th Street.
Decades later, I said, does it bug them that, despite everything they accomplished in the intervening years — "The Godfather" and "The Deer Hunter" and "Serpico" and "Catch Me If You Can" and several million more, some classic, many forgettable — it all boils down to being known for playing a very specific type of person?
Is this all there is?