Once again, we say hello to Tony Montana’s little friend – this time in crystal clear high definition Blu Ray– and Al Pacino tells us why, nearly three decades later “Scarface” still stokes our inner gangster.
“It's because he strives for something,” said Pacino, who breathed ferocious life into the dynamic Miami drug lord at the center of the 1983 cult classic. “What's the character that flies too close to the sun? Icarus – Tony's just so much that kind of a guy who dares, and I think that lives in all of us in a way, and to see somebody who represents that gives us something.”
Pacino also admitted to PopcornBiz that he wasn’t sure the movie’s incendiary ingredients would manage not to self-combust.
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“I would say we were really thrilled when we made it because it was a long shoot, about nine months,” says Pacino. “It was exciting because Oliver Stone wrote the screenplay, and Brian De Palma directed it with such a large, operatic scope, and the combination of the two of them sort of worked. We were shocked! I was surprised that it would work because I thought that they would clash, but they didn't, and so we were ready for a fairly good reception because we could see the movie, see the reaction.”
“And then it came out,” Pacino continued, “and there was a strong negative reaction to it – as well as positive, not a strong positive, but a strong negative. We were surprised and we went through that period where you feel as though, 'What did I do?' I don’t think there's anything worse than feeling that something you did was worthy and it gets slapped – even worse than that is when something you did is unworthy gets slapped. That's a little worse. You try to get some comfort when you say, 'Well, I think it's good. I tried.' But after a while it built up like that and it was a surprise – Really it was!”
Pacino, who spent months speaking and acting in character while making the film, remembered his initial inspirations when creating Tony Montana. “I went a long time and I made him a combination of things,” said the actor. “There were certain things from certain people that I knew, and people I didn't know and it just had that. One inspiration was a guy named Roberto Duran, the fighter. I liked his heart. It was a lot of different people. What I liked about it was that I thought it was somewhere in him, that Tony Montana was trying to reach something. It's almost a kind of cry to reach something.”
Given “Scarface’s” unique endurance in the pop pantheon – the film has been especially embraced by the rap and hip-hop community – Pacino says he particularly pleased that the film’s legacy has never been muddied by attempts to build a franchise out of its latter-day success. “What I'm glad of, the interesting thing, is that we didn't part two or part three or part four,” he explained. “We kept it where it was. I think that's part of what gives it its mystery."