Al Pacino Did Not Want Michelle Pfeiffer For Scarface and 8 Other Revelations About the Gangster Classic

In honor of Scarface's upcoming Blu-ray release, Universal Studios hosted a lavish soiree on Tuesday night to celebrate the Brian De Palma gangster flick which has become a machismo cult classic since its poor critical reception in 1983. At the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles, the event featured Cuban cuisine, desserts shaped like lines of cocaine, a Ludacris concert and a Q&A panel with stars Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Robert Loggia and F. Murray Abraham, as well as Scarface producer Martin Bregman. From their Scarface-style thrones on stage -- bathed in red light and surrounded by Roman sculptures, natch -- the cast reflected on their movie's present-day popularity, machine-gun injuries and Eddie Murphy. The nine most interesting revelations follow.

9. Al Pacino came up with the idea to remake the the original Howard Hawks-directed Scarface, says Al Pacino.

When asked how the Brian De Palma classic was conceived, Pacino explained, "My first experience was seeing Paul Muni in the Howard Hughes film, the original Scarface that they did in 1932. It was at the Tiffany Theater here in Los Angeles on Sunset Boulevard. I went and saw that film and called Marty Bregman after. I said, 'I think we could do this thing. There's a remake here.' And he, very wisely, very astutely, got out there and put the whole thing together. [...] I said, 'I gotta be that Tony Montana guy. That's my license to live.'"

8. Scarface's signature decadence was Brian De Palma's vision.

When asked about Tony Montana's lavish lifestyle, Pacino said, "It was Brian's idea to make it -- so much of it is outlandishly big, but that was always his intent. He saw that as the way to tell the story because it's kind of appropriate with what [Bauer was] saying about it's not enough. It's sort of like cocaine, being addicted to cocaine, which was the '80s. It's just never enough. It's like being addicted to money. It in itself is an addiction. It's all about addiction, but it was Brian's idea to make it that way."

7. Pacino and Steven Bauer were so well-rehearsed that they could have taken Scarface on the road.

"There was a point where we were actually rehearsing at Universal and we didn't have sets," revealed Bauer. "We just had markings of the rooms where we would be doing the scenes in and we'd walk through these scenes. We rehearsed that for a couple weeks and we were like, 'We could take this on the road. We could actually do this as a play on the road. The national touring company of Scarface.'"

6. A machine gun-related injury kept Scarface's star on the sidelines for two weeks.

While describing his lengthy, intense rehearsal period, Pacino revealed, "I got shot! [...] I shot off 30 rounds. I get hit with the squibs. I start leaping up in the air, flying up in the air and I land and I go to grab the gun and guess what? I grabbed the barrel...on the gun that just shot off 30 rounds. My hand stuck to that sucker. That was it. I couldn't get my hand off of it. I couldn't work for two weeks."

5. A then-unknown Steven Bauer was told he had the part of Manny before auditioning.

"I got really lucky," Bauer conceded about being cast as Tony Montana's best friend. "I was working with Stella Adler, a great acting teacher in New York City. [...] I got this call to meet the casting director Alixe Gordin. It was the first day of casting, and the moment she saw me, she said, 'Yeah. You're Manny.' Then she called Brian De Palma and she said, 'I've got Manny here.' It was day one of casting and she said, 'Go see Brian.' So I went to see Brian and he said, 'Yeah, you look like Manny.' And he said, 'I'm going to call Marty Bregman in L.A.' I went to L.A. and I saw Marty and the moment we met, he told me, 'I'm going to tell you something. You're going to do this film. You're going to play this role.' I said, 'I haven't auditioned yet.' And he said, 'Just take my word for it. You're going to play Manny.'"

4. F. Murray Abraham's mother doesn't care how big of a star Al Pacino is. He shouldn't be using foul language.

"My mother's Italian and she's still around, she's about 97 years old," Abraham told the audience. "She's very serious about being Italian. She's very proud of it and she said [after seeing Scarface], 'Murray, I saw the movie. Can you tell Al not to use that language? It's not good for the Italian people.' I said, 'Mom, it's the script. He said what he had to say.' She said, 'He's a big star! He doesn't have to talk that way.'"

3. Pacino may not remember it, but he did not originally want to cast Michelle Pfeiffer as Elvira Hancock.

While discussing the film's female casting, Bregman said, "Michelle Pfeiffer... That was a battle because of everybody in town was going out for that. In spite of what [Al] said before, [he was] a star at the time. Michelle wasn't known at the time."

"And you had that sense about her," Pacino offered. "Because I probably would have said no."

"You did say no!" replied Bregman, inciting laughter from Pacino and the entire theater.

2. The entertainment industry hated (and Eddie Murphy loved) Scarface when it first came out. Just ask Liza Minnelli.

"I remember an industry screening with the heads of two studios," recalled Pacino. [...] I went into Sardi's after the show -- they were all at Sardi's after the show -- and I walk in, and you know that movie The Producers, when they walk in and do the Nazi song? The audience in the restaurant were like statues, like wax figures. So I came in and there was Liza Minnelli who hadn't seen [Scarface] and she came up to me and she said, "Al, what did you do to these people?' [...] But I remember Eddie Murphy was there and he came up to me and said [adapts spot-on Eddie Murphy impression], 'I loved it, Al!'

1. Even though they admit that Scarface's cult following a surprise, Pacino & Co. also agree that their film was perfect, thanks to the rehearsal time they were given.

"We weren't just going in there and doing it," explained Bregman. "We had a long period of rehearsals. By the time we got to performing, we were primed, and we delivered."

"The movie becomes part of our life," said Abraham. "That's it. It becomes real to us. And that's what made this particular film perfect. It's a perfect film."

"Also, the reinvention," added Pacino. "The fact that it came out and it was not really received that well, so we did not feel as though we were in something that was going to be lasting. Usually, it's very rare that a movie opens and it is instantly made a classic. It's not sort of eviscerated the way this was and treated with disrespect. As time went on, it stayed there and had this rebirth, this constant rebirth that is almost like a miracle."


  • andrew says:

    Ah, but where would the movie be without all the rappers idolizing it?

  • The WInchester says:

    Pacino also claimed to invent rap music by being in the film.

  • Omar Suarez says:

    When did Steven Bauer turn into Sean Astin?

  • Capote99 says:

    Sean Astin? More like Joseph Bologna. And Steven was so cute in "Scarface."

  • tn says:

    Can Brian De Palma please make a bunch more movies, and can we all let this sub-par campy movie go?

  • casting couch says:

    Can they please replace that horrible synth soundtrack on the movie?

  • Bradley Paul Valentine says:

    I couldn’t agree more, man. I love the film except I always want to get to work immediately redoing the score.

  • AS says:

    With the possible exception of Blow Out & The Untouchables, what film has De Palma made that wasn't campy in the extreme?

  • SunnydaZe says:

    No, that score is as eighties as a big pile of coke, a white suit, and Phil Collins! A whole decade of that kinda music was to follow.

  • PT says:

    I remember the critics hating this film. They hated De Palma already, so it just came naturally. We went to see it a few times, and quoted the lines for years.

  • Jay says:

    @AS: Carlito's Way is DePalma's finest hour. OMG but that third act is stupendous.

  • Justin Poppiti says:

    Perfect movie, F? No movie is perfect. It's good, but not perfect.

  • No good profane for Italians? Murray did not even use bad language much on the set of "Amadeus", not even when talking to Liz Berridge or Tom Hulce! Did Hulce or Berridge ever know Abraham's mother, Jo? Anyone?

  • Sandy Burns says:

    I just loved Tony Montana and Manny was hot too! I just loved their accents it turned me on! Scarface/Tony Montana's wish would be my command!

  • Tony Montana says:

    Tony is the best, ever !

  • PacinoYay says:

    What do critics know. When the Godfather came out, Ebert and Roeper said it was nothing special and lackluster in some parts. And of course, they'd contract their statements now when it's universal that it's a classic film. Don't allow critics with personal bias prohibit you from seeing a great film. By the way, Scarface (1983) is my favorite film. I highly recommend the original Scarface with Paul Muni. It has essential the same plotline, but it's entirely different when placed in the background of the late 20's with an Italian versus the 80's with a former Cuban prisoner..

  • deedee says:

    I love the movie I have watched
    several times..... Im watching it right now

  • sunphuket says:

    Tony was a proper gangster, and Al made Tony feel real. Too many gangster movies these days are either some wannabe 50 cent or some slicked back hair, open black shirt guy imitating the Russian Mafia but with a slight bit of style. Tony was rough raw over the top and didn't give a .... who wanted respect. A great classic movie and even better after a big rak.

  • John nehrenz says:

    Godfather made Al Pino a star Scarface made him a legend

  • lisa says:

    say hello to my little friend lol

  • Zee says:

    I have seen a lot of gangster films but only Tony Montana has had a major impact on me because Al made his character feel real.. that why it has affected Hip Hop the way it has. Al Pacino, the best actor ever alongside Robert De Niro... F%!k Critics. Scarface is not for the wimps, people need to toughen up, it wasn't that over the top

  • Adrian Cohen says:

    Take a look at the movie ! Las time u guna c a movie like
    Dis let me tell u ! So say goodbye to movies like dis!

  • toni says:


  • toni says:


  • roger nutslong says:

    i watch this movie with my girlfriend which is my wife now about 1000 times we love this movie, i meant michelle pfeiffer son in miami he was drunk and blonde and queer he wanted me to bang him i told him im not a punk,boy why do actors have children? it seem most of them are screwed up in the mind