By James Hibberd
November 28, 2019 at 03:00 PM EST
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So Al…what’s with all the ice cream sundaes?

In Netflix’s acclaimed new Martin Scorsese film The Irishman, vanished former Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) is shown wolfing down ice cream sundaes on three occasions.

Why this fixation on ice cream? And was the real Hoffa that enamored with the classic dessert? (Not that we’re judging mind you.)

EW asked Pacino about the recurring motif in the film, and the Oscar winner explained that his character needed a physical vice of some sort given he was known to live an extremely healthy lifestyle in all other respects.

“You got to have something,” the actor says. “He wasn’t a drinker, wasn’t a smoker. He liked his ice cream. Ice cream was a pause in his life where he could think and just sit with it — at least, that’s the way I thought of it.”

Did the actor ever get sick of eating ice cream while shooting take after take during production?

“I never get sick of ice cream sundaes,” he says. “I love them too much. I think they used some kind of yogurt. But I preferred the ice cream.”

Slate was curious about this subject as well, and looked into books and articles about Hoffa while searching for ice cream references. The Irishman is based on Charles Brandt’s (highly disputed) book I Heard You Paint Houses and notes Hoffa loved ice cream, though more official biographies never mentioned it. More helpfully, a pair of newspapers reported Hoffa “was the cleanest man who ever lived” yet “was in the habit of regularly taking both his family and his business associates out for ice cream” and concluded, “So it seems safe to reach the following verdict: He liked ice cream quite a bit.”

At any rate, we also asked Pacino about another penchant of his character — Hoffa leaving his bedroom door open a crack, a habit Robert De Niro‘s Frank Sheeran later demonstrates at the end of the film.

“Connection,” Pacino says simply. “I would think connection. And the feeling of not being closed up.”

The Irishman is now streaming on Netflix.

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