After the Tribeca Film Festival’s 35th anniversary Scarface screening Thursday night, members of the cast reunited to talk about the gangster movie’s history and impact. Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brian De Palma, and Steven Bauer sat onstage at the Beacon Theatre, in conversation with moderator Jesse Kornbluth. Kornbluth’s question for Scarface’s leading lady: How much did she weigh during production? “As the father of a daughter, I am concerned with body image,” he said. “In the preparation for this film, what did you weigh?”As members of the audience booed and protested, Kornbluth said the question “wasn’t going where you expect.” Pfeiffer politely answered: “Well, okay. I don’t know. I was playing a cocaine addict, so that was part of the physicality of the part, which you have to consider,” she said.
“You know, the movie was only supposed to be a three- or four-month shoot. I tried to time it so that as the movie went on, I became thinner and thinner, and more emaciated. The problem is, it ended up going six months,” Pfeiffer continued. “I was starving by the end. The one scene, the end of the film, where I was thinnest, it was always next week, then next week, [and so on]. I literally had members of the crew bringing me bagels because they were worried about how thin I was getting. I was living on tomato soup and Marlboros.”
By the end, Kornbluth asked Pfeiffer one question about her performance. Pacino, De Palma, and Bauer made it through the conversation without being asked about their weight.
Update: IndieWire followed up with Kornbluth about the weight question, and he defended his query. “It is true that a gentleman should never ask a woman about her weight. But that was not my question,” he said via e-mail. “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.”