Al Pacino, who will be playing the role of Shylock in this summer's Public Theater production of The Merchant of Venice, conducted research for the part in Brooklyn this week, visiting a Hasidic synagogue and meeting with a community member at a Borough Park kosher restaurant. Apparently Pacino, who was accompanied by the Public’s Shakespeare Initiative director Barry Edelstein, took the immersion quite seriously:
"As worshipers swayed in prayer, known as shuckling, Edelstein said he saw Pacino slowly rock back and forth with them, observing their movements."
The actor, who was clad in a dark suit and hat, stood at the back of the synagogue during the services and went unrecognized; afterward, the two men shared a coffee and cheesecake with a member of the Hasidic community at a local diner. Edelstein said no one they encountered offered any objections to the fact that Pacino will be appearing in a play divisive in its perceived anti-Semitism: "[The observation] was done with complete respect and a true sense of empathy,” he said.
Preparing for a Role, Al Pacino Pays a Visit to Borough Park [Metropolis/WSJ]