Scarface was one of those movies that defined a generation. It seemed like every single guy had the iconic poster on their walls, and each and every one of us has said the words "Say hello to my little friend" at least ten times in our lives.
The movie came out in 1983, which means that this year marks the 35th anniversary of its release. Three of the main cast members, including Michelle Pfeiffer, Al Pacino, and Steven Bauer, joined the director of the film, Brian De Palma, to discuss and reminisce about the movie that so many people still love.
A lot was discussed, and certain things caused quite the controversy, but here's what they had to say about the classic film.
They had to fight for the rating
Originally the movie was going to be given an X rating because it was dropping the F-bomb at a rate that equaled about once a minute. Al Pacino said that was always part of the plan to have the language. “[The language was put there] To heighten the already-heightened vision of Brian's? I think that was part of it. Bombast was part of what we were trying to say in the movie,” he said.
But De Palma had to fight for his rating. He didn't want it to have an X rating, so he tried sending three versions of the movie, but when even his most cut down version received the X rating he went back to his original vision.
“I’d had battles with the ratings board on all the movies I made, and this was a last skirmish. I kept on submitting versions of the movie. They'd say, it's an X. I'd change a few things, then I submitted it a second time and [still] got an X. I submitted it a third time and I think they were upset about ... the clown that gets shot. At which point I said, I've had it with these people, I'm not taking anything more out. I told [producer] Marty [Bregman]."
Bregman's response was that "we'll go to war with these people."
Obviously they won!
A potential remake? Hard pass from these stars
The original stars had some pretty definitive views on the potential of a remake, especially one made with a female lead. When Pfeiffer was asked if a female led remake would be possible, both Pacino and Bauer answered "No" before she could say anything. She answered after, agreeing with them but Pacino expanded on his thoughts.
“I think it’s quite remarkable that the movie we made is a remake of a really great movie,” Pacino said. “That’s really hard to do.”
Steven Bauer stole the show
Or at least he tried to. Bauer was constantly trying to jump in at different moments, but one was when he said that he helped with Pacino's accent. Bauer is Cuban-American, so he found it easy to give him tips.
"I lived in Malibu in a little hovel off [the Pacific Coast Highway]," Bauer said. "Al took a house – a beautiful house – and I would come over every day for breakfast. We spent every day for a month not reading the script, just talking about our lives. That was the secret. When people say, how did you get that chemistry? We spent all this time exploring and talking about our [characters'] lives in Cuba previous to the opening shot."
However not everyone was happy that Bauer was in the movie. He said that some of the Cuban community were upset with him.
"People didn't know what we were going to depict what was actually going on in the city – the murders, the body count – at that time," Bauer told the crowd. "A lot of the old-school Cubans were concerned with me to the point where they weren't really sure that my participation in a Hollywood movie was worth me degrading or tainting the image of their accomplishments in society. What I tried to convey to them was: Relax, man, it's a movie. Take it easy, and be happy for me."
Injuries on site
Pacino recalled how he injured himself while shooting the final gun fight.
"In the gunfight at the end, I remember firing off rounds from that machine gun. I fired about 30 rounds, and then somebody shot me and I got hit … [In the movie,] I'm still sort of alive and ready – all that cocaine keeps you going – and I grabbed the barrel of the gun I just fired. My hand stuck to it [because it was still hot from firing]. We had to go to the hospital."
While at the hospital, he found out that not everyone recognized him right away.
"This nurse comes up to me [after the wrap my hand] and says, 'You're Al Pacino.' I said, 'Yeah.' She says, 'I thought you were some scumbag.'"
Pfeiffer was faced with an awkward moment that a lot of actresses are forced to go through: questions about her weight.
In the movie, she needed to lose weight so that she could play the cocaine addict Elvira, but the crowd did not approve of the moderator's question choice.
He asked her, "As the father of a daughter, I'm concerned with body image. In preparation for this film, what did you weigh?"
The crowd literally booed him loudly until he tried to defend himself and said "This is not the question you think it is!"
Pfeiffer was able to handle it gracefully and answered the question in a way.
“Well, OK. I don’t know. But I was playing a cocaine addict, which was part of the physicality of the part, which you have to consider."
She continued by explaining how much of a toll the process took on her because the shoot kept running longer and longer.
"The movie was only supposed to be a three-month, four-month shoot. Of course I tried to time it so that as the movie went on, I became thinner and thinner and more emaciated.
The problem was the movie went six months. I was starving by the end of it because the one scene, which was the end of the film, where I needed to be my thinnest, it was next week and then it was next week and then it was next week.
I literally had members of the crew bringing me bagels because they were all worried about me and how thin I was getting. I think I was living on tomato soup and Marlboros.”
The moderator was forced to release a statement because of all the backlash. In an exclusive statement released to IndieWire, he said"
"It is true that a gentleman should never ask a woman about her weight. But that was not my question.
It is a comment on the knee-jerk political correctness of our time that no one would be shocked if you asked Robert De Niro about the weight gain required for his role in Raging Bull but you get booed — not by many, but by a vocal few — for asking Michelle Pfeiffer about the physical two-dimensionality required for her to play a cocaine freak in Scarface."
His question didn't come across the way he intended it, but honestly he didn't sound all that apologetic, but maybe that's just my opinion.