Al Pacino is set to star as late college football coach Joe Paterno in Barry Levinson’s upcoming film for HBO, and now a first look at the project has been released. While the made-for-TV movie is still untitled, the cable network released the first photo of Pacino as the fired Penn State coach, and the Academy Award winning actor is a dead ringer for the disgraced college football icon who fell from grace in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. The first-look photo shows Pacino wearing glasses and sporting Penn State coaching jacket.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the movie will dig deep into Penn State’s darkest chapter and recount how the winningest coach in college football history took a fall after he was called out for failing Sandusky’s young victims.
Levinson, who will direct and executive produce the HBO film along with his producing partners, previously directed Pacino in The Humbling and in the 2010 HBO film You Don’t Know Jack. The controversial role as Dr. Jack Kevorkian won Pacino an Emmy and a Golden Globe award. Other stars in the film include Kathy Baker, as wife Sue Paterno, Greg Grunberg (as son Scott Paterno), Annie Parisse (as daughter Mary Kay Paterno) and Riley Keough as reporter Sara Ganim.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the synopsis for the film reveals that the story will follow he longtime Nittany Lions coach as he “becomes embroiled in Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, challenging his legacy and forcing him to face questions of institutional failure on behalf of the victim.”
Sandusky, who was Paterno’s assistant coach between 1969 and 1999, was found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse during his reign at the school. Paterno was later fired by Penn State as a result of the controversy. Joe Paterno died in 2012 at age 85 after a battle with lung cancer, just two months after he was fired from his decades-long coaching job.
Al Pacino is no stranger to controversial roles. The Oscar winner has starred in edgy films such as Scarface, Dog Day Afternoon, Cruising, and Angels in America. But his role as Paterno could top them all. Some Penn State diehards still idolize the late coaching legend, so they will be watching closely to see how “JoePa’s” legacy is portrayed by Pacino.
See the video below for more on Al Pacino ‘s role as Joe Paterno.
[Featured Image by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM]