Brian De Palma’s Scarface has long since consolidated a reputation as one of the defining movies of the 1980s, an extravagant ode to excess and the American Dream that turned Al Pacino’s Tony Montana into a cinematic legend thanks to his unforgettably over-the-top performance.
The cult classic was itself a remake of a largely-forgotten 1932 gangster movie directed by the legendary Howard Hawks and produced by Howard Hughes, which already shows that the story is more than capable of being reinvented. However, there are a lot of people that find the idea of a new version of Scarface to be completely unnecessary, but recently-appointed director Luca Guadagnino disagrees.
The latest remake has been in the works for almost a decade, with Suicide Squad’s David Ayer, Harry Potter’s David Yates and Training Day’s Antoine Fuqua all flirting with the director’s chair before the man behind the critically-acclaimed Call Me by Your Name signed on to tackle the script currently being written by the Coen brothers.
No stranger to putting a fresh spin on a familiar story having also helmed 2018’s update of horror classic Suspiria, Guadagnino admitted that he doesn’t want a reputation as someone who constantly tackles remakes, but the story he has in mind for Scarface is a timely one that he feels is well worth telling.
“People claim that I do only remakes, but the truth of the matter is cinema has been remaking itself throughout its existence. It’s not because it’s a lazy way of not being able to find original stories. It’s always about looking at what certain stories say about our times. The first Scarface from Howard Hawks was all about the prohibition era. Fifty years later, Oliver Stone and Brian De Palma make their version, which is so different from the Hawks film. Both can stand on the shelf as two wonderful pieces of sculpture. Hopefully ours, forty-plus years later, will be another worthy reflection on a character who is a paradigm for our own compulsions for excess and ambition. I think my version will be very timely.”
While there’s no shortage of timely stories to tell given today’s social and political climate, remaking Scarface inevitably creates huge pressure and expectations for the project to succeed, and audiences and critics will no doubt compare every single minute of Guadagnino’s version to De Palma’s.
Casting the lead role has the potential to make or break the movie’s success, too, and while it hasn’t been confirmed whether or not Diego Luna will remain in place having originally been hired by Antoine Fuqua, with Scarface starting to gather some momentum, it’ll surely be just a matter of time until we get more concrete updates on the cast and crew.