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Did you know Steven Spielberg helped Brian De Palma direct 'Scarface's epic final shootout?
We used to think Spielberg’s filmography had at least one blind spot: The Druglord Biopic.
At this point, Steven Spielberg is a genre all to itself, incorporating all the many varied filmmaking interests The Great One expresses. His many, many brilliant films, from Jaws, to Jurassic Park, to his current Best Picture nominee, The Fabelmans, are all over the map, as far as genre goes. But Spielberg’s filmography seems to have at least one blind spot: The Druglord Biopic.
Well, at least we thought his renowned resume lacked as much, till we discovered his golden touch on one of the most iconic Druglord Biopic moments ever, or at least some of the very tense moments leading up to Al Pacino’s glorious “Say hello to my little friend” sendoff as Tony Montana in Brian De Palma’s 1983 classic, Scarface (now streaming on Peacock).
As the story goes, Spielberg came by his friend’s set while De Palma was filming the epic final shootout between off-the-rails Tony and Sosa’s many, many motivated assassins. One problem though, Tony wasn’t there, as he seems to have gotten a little too close to that infamous grenade launcher.
“Well what happened when we were doing the shootout, Al grabbed his gun and grabbed it by the barrel, which was red hot and seared his hand and he had to go the hospital and we couldn’t shoot with him for two weeks,” De Palma recalled in an interview from 2015, via Cinema Garmonbozia. “So basically I had two weeks to shoot everything but Al. So needless to say I shot every conceivable way somebody could shoot at somebody else while I was waiting for my star to return.”
And once Spielberg swung by the set, De Palma wasn’t the only one shooting people shooting people.
“Stephen wandered over, we did a few shots: 'What do you think about this Steve, should we put another camera up here?’ ‘Why not?!’ [Laughs] I mean everybody was shooting people shooting at people,” De Palma said.
After Pacino got back to work, of course, he went on to film the rest of the scene, and in doing so became the ruthless embodiment of the spiraling out of control druglord, forever to be immortalized in hip hop songs the world over.
Also starring Steven Bauer (Manny Ray), Michelle Pfeiffer (Elvira), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Gina), Robert Loggia (Frank Lopez), F. Murray Abraham (Omar) and Paul Shenar (Alejandro), the film follows Tony on his take-no-prisoners rise from young Cuban immigrant to Castro's jails, to the lonely top of Miami's bustling drug trade. There may have been others before, but Tony took things to a whole 'nother level, a bloody violent contrast to all the glitz and glamor of the rollicking ‘80s Miami coke scene. You know, the guy you need, so you can “point your fingers and go: That’s the bad guy.”
Check out Pacino’s genre defining performance in Scarface, streaming right now on Peacock!