Michelle Pfeiffer reunited with her Scarface costars — including Al Pacino, Steven Bauer and director Brian De Palma — to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the film but things quickly turned awkward when the actress was asked about her weight.
“Michelle, as the father of a daughter, I’m concerned with body image. The preparation for this film, what did you weigh?” moderator Jesse Kornbluth asked the Oscar nominee at a Tribeca Film Festival panel on Thursday, April 19, according a video posted by a fan.
After the audience began to boo the question and wondered aloud why it even needed to be asked, Kornbluth clarified, “This is not the question you think it is.”
The infamous moment at tonight’s #Scarface reunion panel where #MichellePfeiffer was asked by the moderator (who apparently is “the father of a daughter”) how much she weighed during filming, which was followed by a mixture of confusion and disdain from the audience. #Tribeca2018 pic.twitter.com/xQUQ6FJqtC
— Mark Espinosa (@SportsGuy515) April 20, 2018
“Well, OK. I don’t know, but I was playing a cocaine addict so that was part of the physicality of the part, which you have to consider,” the 59-year-old actress explained. “The movie was only supposed to be, what? 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 that was the end of the film where I needed to be my thinnest, it was [pushed to the] next week and then it was the next week and then it was the next week,” continued the Grease 2 star, who was 25 when the film first hit theaters. “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.”
Pfeiffer, who received critical acclaim for her performance as Elvira, the wife of a drug dealer (Pacino) in the 1983 film, also reflected on the kind of message her character sent to women.
“The other thing about Elvira, is that, because I remember at the time, even then, I got a lot of questions about, ‘You’re playing someone who’s subservient. What message is that sending to women?’” Pfeiffer told fans at the panel, according to Entertainment Weekly. “And I was also in my early 20s, I hadn’t actually thought about it a lot of the time. Being an artist, it’s really presenting to people what is the truth and not sugarcoated, and I felt that by allowing people to observe who this character is and the sacrifices that she’s made said more than getting up on any soapbox and preaching to people.”
Kornbluth defended his question about Pfeiffer’s weight in a statement to IndieWire on Friday, April 20: “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.”
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