To honor the 35th anniversary of Scarface, Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, director Brian De Palma, and Michelle Pfeiffer gathered onstage for a special reunion panel as part of the Tribeca Film Festival at New York's Beacon Theatre.
While the cast reminisced about working together on the movie, the discussion took an awkward turn when moderator Jesse Kornbluth asked Pfeiffer about her weight during filming.
Here’s that appalling Michelle Pfeiffer moment in full. Her ability to gracefully shrug off such blatant condescens… https://t.co/bMj9l8IZJs— Matthew Eng (@Matthew Eng) 1524205519.0
Fourteen minutes into the interview the crowd booed and hissed at Kornbluth when he asked Pfeiffer:
Michelle, as the father of a daughter, I'm concerned with body image. The preparation for this film — what did you weigh?
Pfeiffer had sat through 15 minutes of the men talking about craft and was ASKED ABOUT HER WEIGHT.— Rebecca Keegan (@Rebecca Keegan) 1524191665.0
Kornbluth's sexist question angered the audience, who yelled out, "Why do you want to know?!" Audience members also told Pfeiffer, "You don't have to answer that."
The moderator tried to quiet the audience with this nonsense:
This is not the question you think it is.
People were angry about the sexist question, among other things.
Honestly, I've never seen a moderator get booed before. That's a new one.— Mike Ryan (@Mike Ryan) 1524194028.0
@mikeryan I've asked some stupid questions in my time but if I had a run like that in a single interview, I'd go as… https://t.co/UhTWZvrPln— Dan Reilly (@Dan Reilly) 1524194532.0
@jasondashbailey Look at De Palma pretending to be anywhere else.— Russ Fischer (@Russ Fischer) 1524198045.0
"Well, okay," Pfeiffer began. But instead of shutting him down, the three-time Oscar nominee humored Kornbluth by responding to the question with dignity and grace.
Well, okay. 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 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.
Unexpected changes in the filming schedule made things difficult for the actress.
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. 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.
On Friday, Kornbluth addressed the social media fallout and defended his question in an email to Indiewire.
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."
There were plenty of relevant questions Kornbluth could have chosen to ask Pfeiffer.
Here's a question he could've asked: Pfeiffer paid her own way from LA to NY to audition for Scarface after Melanie… https://t.co/jUWpAIGouf— Rebecca Keegan (@Rebecca Keegan) 1524195089.0
There's only one scene in the movie where her character smiles (I think). It's when Pacino puts on her white hat in… https://t.co/eDpDcggF4a— Rebecca Keegan (@Rebecca Keegan) 1524195587.0
And if physical challenges had to addressed, how about a more eloquent way of structuring the question?
And if you want to ask about weight, after other questions, this is how you do it: Playing a cocaine addict require… https://t.co/K4pMIKkkDI— Rebecca Keegan (@Rebecca Keegan) 1524196159.0
@IndieWire He wouldn't be asking the same question if it was De Niro. His comparison is a false equivalent. The ph… https://t.co/3M2w8rmCDd— Allison (@Allison) 1524254997.0