LOS ANGELES, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Amazon's series Hunters, premiering Friday, marks Al Pacino's first role in an ongoing television series. As opposed to the limited series Angels in America, or his standalone HBO movies, Hunters is 10 episodes and could continue for multiple seasons.
Pacino plays Meyer Offerman, the leader of a covert squad that is hunting Nazis living in New York in the 1970s. The Oscar-winning actor compared the cast and creators to a theater company.
"We liked the atmosphere that we were in," Pacino said during a Television Critics Association panel. "Everyone was creating this kind of ease in which we went into things and talked about the scenes themselves."
Filming 10 episodes, Pacino lamented that no time was allotted for rehearsals like in a play. He said his co-stars found ways to rehearse with him, anyway.
"We kind of did it when we could," Pacino said. "We would find time on the weekend or something to get together. We would get there and we would talk about it a little bit."
The collaboration extended to filming days, Pacino said.
"The set had that kind of malleable feeling to it," Pacino said. "If somebody had an issue or a problem with something or didn't understand something, or just wanted to go over it, we would all do it together."
One adjustment episodic television required was adapting to a new director every week. A play doesn't normally turn over the director. However, Pacino recalled a play in which his co-stars turned over rapidly, so adjusting to new directors was easy.
"As [the play] got more and more terrible notices, the less the actors were showing up," Pacino said. "So they had to replace each other. If someone was playing Lord Something, the other night he'd be playing a slave of some sort. So it was confusing, but that wasn't happening here."
Previous experiences playing different characters fed into Pacino's latest creation, he said. The 79-year-old suggested playing various roles on stage, as he did, makes one a better actor later.
"I was in a repertoire," Pacino said. "The plays that I thought I would excel in, I didn't. And the play that I didn't want to do was the one I excelled in. So, you never know what's there. The more you do, the more you find out."
Where Hunters differs from theater or film work, Pacino appreciates what the unorthodox style of Hunters can add to the drama. Creator David Weil, who executive produces and showruns with Nikki Toscano, presents some scenes as '70s-era movies or TV shows and then returns to the narrative of the show.
"There's a kind of an originality in this show and it's somewhat eccentric," Pacino said. "All of a sudden, you'll see it from certain angles. There are a lot of elements in it that catch you off guard. It holds your interest because you never know when a joke is going to come."
Another benefit to Pacino is that Hunters is an ensemble. Logan Lerman plays Jonah Heidelbaum, a young man who joins Offerman's gang after someone kills his grandmother. Many scenes focus on Jonah or gang members Roxy Jones (Tiffany Boone), Murray and Mindy Markowitz (Saul Rubinek and Carol Kane), Lonny Flash (Josh Radnor), Joe (Louis Ozawa) or Sister Harriet (Kate Mulvaney).
"I'm there watching this wonderful, great acting going on in scenes I never read really," Pacino said. "So it's such a surprise to see it. It takes a load off, really. And yet, it's still intense work."