PARK CITY, Utah - Even Al Pacino endured a film drought once, so the legendary actor can appreciate the more active stints.
"Work comes in cycles, and for me it's been an avalanche," he said at the Sundance Film Festival, which ended Jan. 26.
Pacino, 62, had shuffled into ski country to promote People I Know, due out this spring. The drama about a wormy New York publicist is one of five Pacino movies that will hit the screen in 2003 or were released in 2002. The CIA drama The Recruit opened Friday.
Last year, Pacino could be seen as a producer who creates a computer-generated actress in Simone and as a troubled cop in Insomnia. Besides People I Know and The Recruit, he also has roles this year as a mob boss in Gigli with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez and as the power-brokering attorney Roy Cohn in the HBO miniseries Angels in America.
On top of that, he is rehearsing Oedipus for the stage and is still waiting for a small film he directed, Chinese Coffee, to attract a distributor.
At the moment, it is difficult to imagine Pacino not working longer than four minutes, let alone four years. But that's what he chose to do after the star-crossed 1985 disaster Revolution.
Is another long hiatus on the way?
"There's working, and then there's having to do something," he said. "I'm just right now enjoying this place I'm in. I don't have to report anywhere.
"There's no booking down the line. I have three kids. That is a very big part of my life. I'm not ready to go off right away and do something."
Pacino is technically Hollywood's most notable long-reigning bachelor, but he is a family man. His girlfriend, actress Beverly D'Angelo, had twins, a boy and a girl, two years ago, and he has a daughter (born in 1989) with acting teacher Jan Tarrant.
Pacino reflected on a career that has included eight Academy Award nominations and one win, for his boisterous colonel in 1992's Scent of a Woman. Some of his other indelible parts were the righteous cop in Serpico, the bank robber in Dog Day Afternoon and the trial lawyer in And Justice for All.
As it turns out, Pacino wasn't identifying with his characters, as perhaps his Strasberg method background would imply. He was merely doing his job.
"They don't parallel your life when you do those things," he said of his portrayals. "That's what's interesting about acting. I work so much from instinct and the unconscious. That's when I feel I'm most liberated as a performer."
In The Recruit, Pacino plays a shrewd CIA recruiter who puts wannabe spies through their paces at a place called the Farm. One of his training exercises involves taking five candidates into a bar and ordering them to pick up five women. The Irish Colin Farrell (Minority Report) co-stars as a star student picked by Pacino to root out a real mole as a graduation exercise.
"I love Colin," Pacino said. "He's unguarded, like me."
Pacino chuckled. He was either being facetious - the actor is not known for revealing much in interviews - or he was talking about feeling free on camera. Now Pacino is apparently feeling free to do nothing. Still, when the interview is about to break up, the question was posed once more: Are you really not looking for work?
"You got a good script?" Pacino answered.