ACADEMY AWARD winner Brenda Fricker has recalled the night she left Al Pacino speechless following a rather unfortunate run-in at the Oscars.
Fricker is famous to many for playing the pigeon lady in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
However, anyone with a keen knowledge of Irish film will remember her for her brilliant performance alongside Daniel Day Lewis in Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot.
The Academy certainly did.
In 1990, Fricker won the Oscar for Best Supporter Actress for her turn as Bridget Fagan Brown, the mother of Irish writer and painter Christy Brown, who was played by Day Lewis in the hit biopic.
As is the tradition, Fricker returned to the Oscars in 1991 to present the Best Supporting Actor award.
Plenty of big names were up for the Oscar including Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Joe Pesci, Graham Greene and Bruce Davison.
But it was Fricker’s encounter with a nervous Pacino backstage that has lived long in the memory for the Irish star – and with good reason.
During an appearance on RTE One’s Tommy Tiernan Show, Fricker regaled fans with the story of their hilarious run-in and the advice she gave to the eventual winner.
“You go back to present the next year, Fricker explained to Tiernan. “They give you the envelope and about 25 security men around you.
"I remember I had go to the toilet; the ladies toilet was downstairs and they sent this lady policeman in with me.
“So I was coming out with the envelope and I saw out of the corner of my eye this elderly man on the bannisters. It looked like he was in trouble.
“So I said “hold on a minute” and I went over and said “are you alright?” and his face came up and it Al Pacino, who was nominated that year.
“And i said “are you alright?” and he said “11 times I’ve been nominated” and I said “but you’re going to win, this is the envelope, your name is in here, there’s no problem with that”.
“And he said “Oh no”, and I said “look, I’ve seen the film, there’s no way; you’re going to win, there’s no problem at all” and he kind of cheered up and I went off.
“And then when it came to do it, out I go and “the Oscar goes to… Joe Pesci” and I could see Al Pacino sitting there and then Joe Pesci came up to get his Oscar.”
— RTÉ One (@RTEOne) January 16, 2021
Pesci ended up winning the Oscar for Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas that year thanks to his famously deranged performance as gangster Tommy DeVito.
But despite playing a psychotic tough guy in the film, Fricker recalled Pesci having a far more tender reaction backstage.
“He was so surprised he couldn’t speak at all, he just said “thank you” and walked off, so I did the same thing because Kevin Kline did,” she said.
“I grabbed the thing and I put it around him and said “this is the last private moment you’re ever going to have” and he bawled crying and Joe Pesci is a toughie, you know?”
She didn’t know it at the time of course, but the two would end up reunited on Home Alone 2, though it’s doubtful whether this particularly emotional exchange ever came up in conversation.