It appears the Scarface remake has a new friend in the director’s chair, but his resume isn’t that little. Indeed, Universal Pictures announced Thursday that Luca Guadagnino, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker behind 2017’s Call Me By Your Name, has been tapped to direct the long-gestating Scarface reboot.
The news comes paired with the announcement that Guadagnino will be working from the version of the screenplay written by Joel and Ethan Coen, who know a thing or two about crime dramas after making such films as Fargo and No Country for Old Men. Their version is additionally built off earlier drafts by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, Jonathan Herman, and Paul Attanasio.
The hiring of Guadagnino is the latest chapter in an ever-growing saga of musical director chairs on the project. A new Scarface remake has long been a priority for Universal Pictures, which first began developing the film in 2011. In addition to various screenplay drafts, over the last nine years there have been multiple directors hired to reinvent Tony Montana for the 21st century, a man who only has his word and his nuts, and who doesn’t break them for anybody.
Initially, Antoine Fuqua was expected to direct Scarface based on earlier script drafts before exiting the project in favor of doing The Equalizer (2014). Afterward, David Ayer, fresh off End of Watch (2012), was expected to rewrite and direct Scarface after finishing up Suicide Squad (2016), but he was then subsequently dropped after the studio thought his screenplay was “too dark.” Fuqua became attached again, keeping Diego Luna (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Tony from the Ayer era… but then the Fuqua approach seemed to quietly die once again in development hell.
It appears Luna is no longer attached to the project, and we imagine Guadagnino has his own approach to the material and casting. He has after all pursued remakes before with his ambitious (and divisive) reimaging of Suspiria in 2018.
There will be some fans who likely protest the idea of reworking Scarface after Al Pacino’s boisterously over-the-top performance crossed over into pop culture legend with the 1983 Brian De Palma film. However, it’s surprising that many still do not know that the De Palma movie (with its Oliver Stone screenplay) is itself a remake of the popular 1932 film, Scarface. That movie starred Paul Muni and was (mostly) directed by Howard Hawks and produced by Howard Hughes. It was also one of the first major victims of the Hays Office when censors pressured Hughes into reshooting the ending so the evil Tony did not go down in a blaze of glory against the cops, but was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death.
At least in its earlier drafts, the new Scarface remake is supposed to revolve around Mexican drug cartels and the U.S./Mexican border. If that’s still the case, it feels far more explosive now than when the concept was first pitched almost a decade ago.