Al Pacino stars alongside Helen Mirren as Phil Spector – the infamous American record producer and songwriter – in David Mamet’s controversial new drama for HBO. The TV movie surrounds the shooting of Lana Clarkson, in which Mirren plays the defence lawyer enamoured and convinced by her client’s tribulations.

Al PacinoPacino signing autographs for his loving fans

“The luxury in today’s world is that you have all this footage on the characters you play,” says Pacino as he explains he method of preparing for the role to The Telegraph. “I would sit for hours just looking at Phil talking about things, mainly during and after the first trial.” For Pacino, though, simply mimicking what he saw on screen wasn’t good enough.

Helen MirrenMirren's job in the film is to save Spector's behind

“There are actors who are really gifted at capturing the tone of voice and the gestures. And I try to do that a little bit,” he nods. “But I walk that line of trying not to do the exact mimic of the person, but rather to find the internal subtext of a character – to try to find the inner and the outer.”

The critics have had their say on HBO’s latest hard-hitting TV drams based on real events (they’re becoming all the rage now). The Independent says “Phil Spector is never less than competent, a drama of forensic inquiry that understands exactly how to manipulate an audience and which – when it hones in on the techniques of a high-profile American defence – is often fascinating.”

Phil SpectorPhil Spector was found guilty of second degree murder