Before there was Tony Soprano, there was Tony Montana, the Cuban refugee turned drug kingpin memorably portrayed by Al Pacino in Scarface.
The cult classic mob thriller, which turns 30 on December 9th, made “Say hello to my little friend!” one of the most menacingly cheeky lines in movie history.
But that’s not all Scarface made famous. Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and F. Murray Abraham all had long, successful careers after their turns in this explosive, bloody 1983 flick directed by Brian De Palma.
Scarface himself wasn’t exactly an unknown before the film’s release in 1983. During the previous decade, he’d racked up five Oscar nominations, for his performances in The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, and …And Justice for All. But his role as Tony Montana, while only recognized with a Golden Globe nom, was career-defining. Though his films following Scarface didn’t exactly bank at the box office, he now had the Hollywood clout to work on pet projects in regional and New York theater. Pacino didn’t return to film until the late ‘90s, but when he came back, he came back stronger than ever, picking up an Oscar nomination for Dick Tracy in 1990, and a win for Best Actor in 1992 for Scent of a Woman. Most recently Pacino wowed critics and audiences with his Broadway appearance as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, for which he was nominated for a Tony. He also reprised his role from the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross for the stage earlier this year.
Bauer’s career highlight was for his role as Tony’s womanizing best friend Manny Ribera, which the unknown at the time scored for his Cuban creds. The performance earned the Havana-born actor a Golden Globe nomination. It was a good time for Bauer, who had married actress Melanie Griffith in 1982 (they divorced in ’87). After Scarface, Bauer’s career was largely made up of crime and action flicks. More recently, Breaking Bad fans will know him for a short but memorable role as Don Eladio, the Mexican drug lord taken to task by a young Gus Fring (played by Giancarlo Esposito).
Pfeiffer was relatively unknown before taking on the role of Tony’s cokehead girlfriend Elvira Hancock in Scarface, although Grease fans may have recognized her “Cool Rider” bubble-gum smacking face as Stephanie Zinone from the film’s less successful sequel. Regardless, Scarface put her on the map and since then, Pfeiffer’s been in dozens of films and scored oodles of awards, as well as three Oscar nominations. She worked steadily throughout the ‘80s, and landed in the box-office blockbuster The Witches of Eastwick in 1987. She returned to her mob flick roots in Married to the Mob in 1988, which kicked off a string of critically acclaimed roles. She took several years-long breaks from film, especially in the early ‘00s, to raise her two kids with writer-producer David E. Kelly. Most recently, she found a home once again among the mafia, starring as Robert De Niro’s wife in The Family.
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
The role of Tony’s sis Gina also went to an unknown at the time. But just three years later, Mastrantonio would score an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination for her role in The Color of Money, opposite Paul Newman and Tom Cruise. She’s also starred in blockbuster hits The Abyss and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Though her last big film role came in 2000, in The Perfect Storm, Mastrantonio has worked successfully on television and the New York and London stage. She recently appeared as the mother of the main monster-hunter on NBC’s Grimm.
Drug lord Frank Lopez was portrayed by Loggia, who has worked steadily in small roles in film and television for decades. Loggia has popped up everywhere from Oliver & Company to Lost Highway, Columbo to Charlie’s Angels, and from Independence Day to Big. He received Emmy nominations for Malcolm in the Middle and Mancuso, FBI. This upcoming year Loggia has three films to be released; in two of them, he plays grandpas, which seems pretty suitable considering he’s approaching his 84th birthday.
F. Murray Abraham
Scarface wasn’t the first time Abraham worked alongside Pacino. He had a small role as a detective in 1973’s Serpico. In fact, his film career in the ‘70s consisted of roles as a cab driver, a mechanic, and a couple of cops. It wasn’t until after his role as drug dealer Omar Suarez in Scarface that F. Murray Abraham became a lauded actor. A year later, Abraham won the Best Actor Oscar for his work playing composer Antonio Salieri in Amadeus. Since then he’s had a varied career on the stage and screen, with recent appearances as Dar Adal on Homeland and a role in the upcoming Coen Brother’s film, Inside Llewyn Davis. In 2011, he won accolades for his performance as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice in New York. Interestingly, the Off-Broadway production ran simultaneously with another one on Broadway. In the starring role: Al Pacino.