LOS ANGELES — Hard to believe, but when Brian De Palma’s “Scarface” was released in 1983, it wasn’t the beloved cult classic it is now. Critics panned the underworld drama in which actor Al Pacino played Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee who went from dishwasher to cocaine drug lord.
Today, the film lives in infamy with its ultra-violent-yet-indelible scenes and quotable one-liners like “Say hello to my little friend.” Most of the appreciation and film’s support has come from rappers, a fact not lost on Pacino.
“The hip-hop people and the rappers got together and they made a video and they talked about the movie. I don’t think anybody’s ever talked about it as articulately and clearly. I understood it better having heard them talk about it,” Pacino told MTV News on the red carpet for a party celebrating the Blu-ray release for “Scarface” on Tuesday night. “I mean, they really get it and they understand it, and that’s a great thing. They’ve been very supportive all these years. I think they’ve helped us tremendously.”
The documentary Pacino referred to is 2003’s “Scarface: Origins of a Hip-Hop Classic.” In it, rappers like Diddy, Nas and Snoop Dogg analyze the movie’s impact. The 71-year-old actor likens rap’s affinity for his film with his appreciation for the 1932 original version of “Scarface.”
“When I saw it for the first time — and I don’t mean mine, I mean Paul Muni’s from [the] 1930s — I had that feeling about it too,” he said. “Anything when the hero is just reaching for something.”
Ultimately, Pacino believes the appeal of his character lies in his desire to make something out of nothing — a mantra rappers have been preaching since the 1980s.
“Man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for? That’s a great expression, and I think that’s Tony Montana,” Pacino poetically explained. “Reaching for something he can’t get but he keeps going. There is an element of hope in it, believe it or not.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Scarface.”
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