Al Pacino Quits Theatre Production After Learning of Author’s Nazi Past

Press Association via AP Images
Ian West/PA Wire URN:23049311 (Press Association via AP Images)

Actor Al Pacino is being praised for removing himself from the stage adaptation of a novel written by Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun, after becoming aware of the author’s support for Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

Pacino, 75, pulled out of a commitment last week to film a narration of Hamsun’s dark novel, Hunger, which was intended to be displayed on stage through a hologram, according to the New York Daily News.

After the actor learned of the Hamsun’s support for Hitler’s occupation of Norway and of the personal relationship between him and Hitler, Pacino informed producers at Copenhagen’s Aveny-T theatre he no longer wished to participate.

“It is correct: he jumped at the last minute because he couldn’t come to terms with Knut Hamsun’s support for the German occupation and Nazism,” Aveny-T’s manager, Jon Stephensen, told a Danish publication, per the Daily News. “We must respect that.”

Hamsun, a Nobel prize-winning author who died in 1952 at the age of 92, admired Germany and was sympathetic to the country’s invasion of Norway in 1940.

Hamsun was so sympathetic to the cause, he presented Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels with his 1920 Nobel Prize in Literature as a gift.

The author also published an obituary describing Hitler as “a preacher of the gospel of justice for all nations,” after the German leader’s 1945 suicide.

“If one looks at the impact Hunger made on Hemingway, Kafka, Hesse, Lindgren, Singer and other prominent authors at the time, it is somewhat strange to see to what extent this differs from today’s judgment,” Hamsun Society chairperson Hege Faust said.

“Many people choose not to read Hamsun at all, or when it comes to famous people such as Al Pacino, to risk having their name connected to him.”

After World War II, the author was stripped of his property and fined heavily. He was also placed under a psychiatric hold for a short time, and despite accumulating a great deal of wealth and fame, died broke.


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