In the film, advertising executive Jack (Adam Sandler) was living an almost perfect life, with the exception of one, annoying constant – his twin sister Jill (also played by Sandler). Every year he has to tolerate a Thanksgiving visit from his smothering sister, who doesn’t take long to turn his life upside down. When she won’t leave, Jack tries to help her find a guy – a guy who he hopes will get her out of his house.
Of course, nothing goes as planned. Instead of a date, Jill gets an impossibly unlikely suitor. In the story, Jack needs Al Pacino to agree to do a commercial – and if he can’t get Pacino, Dunkin Donuts will take their business elsewhere. Just as he’s wondering what he’s going to do, who should fall for Jill but the Oscar®-winning actor himself? Just one catch – in the movie, the character of Pacino is suffering from a nervous breakdown.
For the role of Al Pacino, the filmmakers decided to get Al Pacino. “Al Pacino isn’t really playing himself – he’s playing an obsessive actor who has gone a bit off the deep end and is losing his marbles,” says screenwriter Steve Koren. “So, when he falls for Jill, he goes overboard. He’s willing to go to any length to get the girl. The trouble is, Jill’s just not all that into him. She knows more about ‘American Idol’ than she does about Al Pacino.”
Pacino plays the character in a way that is very different from the man he is in real life. “He’s an actor who’s losing control,” says Pacino. “He has had an overload of work and it’s starting to take hold of him and affect his mental capacity. He’s clearly in the middle of a breakdown. That’s the track I’ve taken in order to play myself as somebody else – it’s all heightened and exaggerated as to make it believable in a comedy. However, I tried to keep it real so that the madness is real.”
In the movie, the character of Pacino is starting to lose his grip on reality. He has been mulling an offer to play Don Quixote in “Man of La Mancha” on Broadway – and when he meets Jill, he endows himself and Jill with characteristics of the characters. “In ‘Man of La Mancha,’ Don Quixote is a madman who believes himself to be a knight, and he believes Dulcinea to be a princess, even though she’s an ugly peasant. He falls madly in love with her by endowing her with virtues she doesn’t really possess,” Pacino explains. “When my character meets Jill, he does the same thing. She becomes his Dulcinea. In a sense, my character unconsciously uses her as a tool to find out if he indeed wants to play the part of Don Quixote. He gives Jill all the traits of the character Dulcinea so he can rehearse it, try it out, and see if it fits. He doesn’t even know he’s doing it, but there’s method in his madness.”
In addition, Jill represents something that the character of Pacino feels he has lost. “Our character of Pacino is at a crossroads,” says director Dennis Dugan. “He’s kind of lost in Los Angeles. The thing that’s missing in life is who he used to be – a sense of home and roots. Suddenly, here’s a woman who comes to him at the height of his fame and reminds him of who he used to be. He needs to go back to his home, and he thinks Jill is his ticket.”
“I love the idea of playing an older movie star, clinging, trying to get back to what it was that made him do this thing in the first place,” Pacino continues. “My character is a guy who just wants to go back home, wants to be simple again, but will never be able to be that way again. And no matter how crazy he is, his instincts are still working as an actor – if he engages her in the same way Don Quixote engages Dulcinea, he can find out if he can really play the part in ‘Man of La Mancha.’ It’s subtle and unusual, but this is the actor’s journey out of madness.”
Dugan says that working with Pacino was, of course, a completely unique experience. “I didn’t know what to expect – he’s obviously a serious actor – but he embraced the insanity,” says Dugan. “He played his version of Pacino in a truly brilliant way. He’s a genuinely nice guy and he had a terrific attitude about the whole thing.”
Naturally, the real Pacino provided exactly what you’d expect: a tremendous actor, having the time of his life. “Al was at the top of his game – Adam would throw something at him, and Al would catch it and fire it right back,” says Dugan. “He embraced the way we work, which I think is different from the way most sets work. But Al was never thrown off by any of it – he stood in there and hit it as hard as he could.”
Opening soon across the Philippines, “Jack and Jill” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.