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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Stuart Heritage

Acting, sexiness and late babies: why Pacino v De Niro is the daddy of all rivalries

A onesie he can’t refuse … De Niro and Pacino.
A onesie he can’t refuse … De Niro and Pacino. Photograph: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro are forever destined to be intertwined. The two greatest actors of their generation – the two greatest actors of most generations – Pacino and De Niro will spend the rest of eternity being compared. People will tie themselves up in knots over who did the best work, who was the best in The Godfather Part II, who won their first scene together in Heat, who was the least bad in Righteous Kill.

And now the comparisons have started to spill out from their professional efforts. A couple of weeks ago Twitter blew a gasket trying to work out whether Al Pacino was sexier than Robert De Niro. The competition between them is fierce, and never lets up. Just days after De Niro announced that he’d become a father again at the age of 79, Pacino has announced that he’s about to become a father again at the age of 83.

Pacino’s representatives this week revealed that the actor’s 29-year-old girlfriend Noor Alfallah (who previously dated 79-year-old Mick Jagger) is eight months pregnant. And this, I’m sure you’ll agree, has opened up an entire world of new and exciting comparison categories.

Obviously, as things currently stand, Pacino wins if we’re judging this purely on the basis of the father’s age. And, by some degree, he also romps home in the category of age difference with partner. De Niro’s girlfriend Tiffany Chen is reportedly 45 years old, which means that they enjoy a 34-year age gap. Pacino, meanwhile, has his eyes laser-focused on the gold. He is a full 54 years older than Alfallah. For reference, when Chen was born, De Niro was preparing to make Raging Bull. But Alfallah was born in 1994, which was one year before Pacino played the role of Grandpa in Two Bits.

However, De Niro gets the edge if we’re talking sheer quantity of babies. Pacino’s child will only be his fourth, while De Niro’s new kid is his seventh. However, this isn’t a category that can be conclusively put to bed yet. After all, they’re still only 79 and 83. Nothing – apart from age, common sense and potentially a disastrous Viagra shortage – can stop them from churning out a procession of babies like a wet Mogwai. For all we know, a decade from now Pacino could be in double digits. He couldn’t see anything weird about having a baby at age 83, so what’s wrong with having them when he’s pushing a century?

Righteous Kill.
Birth plans … the actors in Righteous Kill. Photograph: Everett/REX Shutterstock

There is also the question of which child will grow up with the most memories of their father. Not to be too bleak but, even if De Niro and Pacino beat the odds and die at the ripe age of 100, their children will still only be 21 and 17. By that age, they won’t be old enough to truly get to know their dads as flawed three-dimensional men outside of their father-offspring relationship. Neither Pacino or De Niro will be able to pass on their most trusted wisdom to their children; which, at a guess, is either: “Never make a third Godfather film” or: “Stay away from any movie with the word Grandpa in the title”. Again, this is a category that needs to play out in its own time.

Obviously, though, there can only be one true winner here, and that is Al Pacino. He was born 83 years ago. His child will be born in 2023. If the new baby can live as long as their father, then what a truly enormous span of history they will have seen between them. Al Pacino was born five years before Adolf Hitler died. If his child reaches the age of 83, then they will live until the year 2106; long after AI will have weaponised itself and obliterated all of humanity as we know it. What an amazing, impressive legacy. Congratulations, Al!

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