Despite the iconic image of its star, Brian De Palma’s gangster epic Scarface has far more going for it than just Al Pacino’s megawatt performance as Cuban drug lord, Tony Montana.
Memorably scripted by Oliver Stone and boasting a fine yet often overlooked ensemble cast, Scarface is a big movie in every sense. But what happened to the key players, both in front of and behind the camera, once the fake gunfire faded and the theatrical blood was washed away? Join us as we find out.
Brian De Palma
A part of the New Hollywood generation of directors, De Palma had already scored several critical and commercial hits, including Carrie, Phantom Of The Paradise, Dressed To Kill and Blow Out, before he made Scarface.
Following his gangster epic with the double whammy of Body Double (1984) and Wise Guys (1986), De Palma scored big again the following year with his Oscar-winning The Untouchables.
The more low key but acclaimed Vietnam film, Casualties Of War, followed in 1989, while in 1991 he suffered his first serious critical and commercial drubbing with the disastrous adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s classic novel, Bonfire Of The Vanities.
De Palma’s career suffered a slight renaissance after reteaming with Al Pacino for Carlito’s Way (1993), and he scored his biggest commercial hit to date off the back of that with the 1996 Tom Cruise vehicle, Mission: Impossible.
However, since then De Palma’s career has suffered something of a downward trajectory, with several big-budget flops, such as Snake Eyes, Mission To Mars and The Black Dahlia, forcing him onto the Hollywood margins with his last film, the Iraq war drama, Redacted (2007) receiving only a limited release in the US.
Despite that, De Palma remains one of the most influential directors of the last 40 years, with a back catalogue that continues to both inspire and provoke in equal measure.
Already an Oscar winning screenwriter for Midnight Express (1978) by the time of his work on Scarface, Stone was already preparing for his future career behind the camera.
In 1986, Stone made his mark as a director in a big way, with the one-two punch of Salvador and Platoon, the latter of which won Stone his first Best Director Oscar.
For the next 10 years, Stone was the director in Hollywood, turning out such high points as Wall Street, Born On The Fourth Of July, The Doors, JFK, Natural Born Killers and Nixon, alongside such interesting curios as Talk Radio and Heaven And Earth.
However, since Nixon, Stone’s career has been patchy, taking in the epic creative disaster that was Alexander (2004), polemical political documentaries (2002’s Commandante and 2009’s South Of The Border), unnecessary sequels (2010’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) and the curiously underpowered World Trade Centre (2006) and W. (2008).
In 2012, Stone is stepping behind the camera once more for an adaptation of Don Winslow’s crime novel, Savages. Here’s hoping it’s a return to form for the three-time Oscar winner.
Already established as one of America’s greatest ever actors before taking on the lead role in Scarface, Pacino’s career post-Tony Montana took something of a nosedive. After the disaster of Hugh Hudson’s Revolution in 1985, Pacino took a sabbatical from cinema and immersed himself in his first love – theatre.
Finally returning to the big screen with Sea Of Love in 1989 and The Godfather Part III in 1990, Pacino eventually won an Academy Award for his performance as blind soldier Frank Slade in Martin Brest’s Scent Of A Woman in 1992.
The Academy Award win seemed to herald a second bloom for Pacino, with memorable roles in Carlito’s Way, Heat, Frankie & Johnny, The Devil’s Advocate, The Insider, Donnie Brasco, Any Given Sunday and Insomnia.
Famously described by Guy Pearce as simply “the best”, Pacino remains at the top of his game as he enters his fifth decade as a screen actor.
Cast as Tony Montana’s trusted sidekick and best friend, Manolo “Manny” Ribera, Cuban born Bauer provided a welcome counter-balance to Pacino’s somewhat over-the-top lead performance.
Post-Scarface, Bauer is probably best known for his work in the 1990 mini-series Drug Wars: The Camarena Story, as well as movies such as Primal Fear (1996) and Steven Soderbergh’s multi-Oscar winning Traffic (2001).
More recently, he’s been seen in episodes of Burn Notice, Breaking Bad and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as well as various direct-to-DVD action movies.
Prior to her casting in Scarface, Pfeiffer had just a few TV credits to her name, as well as the ignoble honour of starring in the notable critical and commercial big-screen flop, Grease 2.
Initially auditioned against director De Palma’s wishes, Pfeiffer won the role of Elvira Hancock, Montana’s venal cokehead wife, very much on merit, and turned in probably the best received performance in the film.
Parts in Richard Donner’s Ladyhawke (1985) and Alan Alda’s Sweet Liberty (1986) followed, but it wasn’t until 1987’s The Witches Of Eastwick that Pfeiffer had a bona-fide hit under her belt.
From there, many acclaimed appearances followed, in films as diverse as Tequila Sunrise, Married To The Mob, Dangerous Liasons, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Batman Returns and The Age Of Innocence.
Marrying Ally McBeal creator David E Kelley in 1993, Pfeiffer took a four year hiatus from her career at the start of the new milliennium to spend time with her husband and two children. However, in 2007 she made a successful return to acting with appearances in both Hairspray and Stardust.
An A-list star for almost two decades, Pfeiffer will next be seen on our screens in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows.
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Despite her role as Tony Montana’s sister, Gina, being the first significant credit of her career, Mastrantonio’s rise to stardom was almost as rapid as Michelle Pfeiffer’s.
By 1986, Mastrantonio had been Oscar nominated for her supporting role in Martin Scorsese’s The Color Of Money, following that up with leading roles in Slam Dance (1987) and The January Man (1989).
But it’s for James Cameron’s The Abyss (1989) and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (1991) that she’s best known, with her performances as both Dr Lindsey Brigman and Maid Marian still fondly remembered to this day.
Relocating to London in the early 90s, after her marriage to Irish film director Pat O’Connor, Mastrantonio essentially withdrew from the Hollywood scene to concentrate on raising her young family.
However, since then, Mastrantonio has developed a highly respected theatre career, both on Broadway and in the West End, while making occasional appearances in TV shows such as Without A Trace and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
A veteran TV and film actor before his casting in Scarface as drug lord Frank Lopez, Robert Loggia followed up that role with acclaimed work in Prizzi’s Honor, Independence Day, Big and Necessary Roughness.
Oscar nominated for his supporting role as private detective Sam Ransom in Jagged Edge (1985), Loggia subsequently enjoyed several roles as mobsters in films as diverse as John Landis’ Innocent Blood (1992) and David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997).
Probably his most high-profile role in recent years has been back on TV, with sterling work as old-school mobster Feech La Manna in The Sopranos.
F Murray Abraham
Very much an unknown character actor on film before his casting as drug dealer Omar Suarez in Scarface, Abraham had played unheralded roles in such classic 70s movies as All The President’s Men and Serpico.
Despite his lack of fame up until that point, Abraham’s career changed immeasurably after Scarface thanks to his casting as Antonio Salieri in Milos Forman’s Amadeus, for which he won an Academy Award.
After Amadeus, Abraham appeared opposite Sean Connery in The Name Of The Rose (1986), but during that shoot, garnered a reputation for being somewhat difficult on set.
Since then, Abraham has made the occasional foray back into film in such eclectic fare as Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite (1997) and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), but his main focus has remained on stage, with lauded appearances in notable productions of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night among his many recent credits.
Scarface is available on Blu-ray now.