Michelle Pfeiffer Was Asked to Reveal Her Weight and Fans Quickly Came to Her Defense
The cast and director of Scarface joined forces on Thursday evening for a very special reunion event at N.Y.C.’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer, and director Brian De Palma took the stage at the Beacon Theatre following a screening of the iconic 1983 crime drama, but it wasn’t long before things got, well, awkward.
About 14 minutes into the panel discussion, three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Pfeiffer was asked her first question, and it unfortunately had to do with the actress’s appearance.
The moderator asked the 59-year-old, “Michelle, as the father of a daughter, I’m concerned with body image. The preparation for this film—what did you weigh?”
The audience erupted in boos, according to Entertainment Weekly. One person in the audience reportedly shouted, "Why do you want to know?" while the moderator responded, "This is not the question you think it is."
Pfeiffer was a good sport, however, and answered the question honestly. “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,” she began. “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,” she continued. “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. 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.”
Eventually, Pfeiffer got a chance to open up about other aspects of the film, too. She addressed the criticism of her character Elvira and the film's implicit message to women, telling the crowd, "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?’ 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.”