Thirty-five years after release, Brian De Palma’s crime classic “Scarface” is still making some big waves. However, at last night’s Tribeca Film Festival anniversary screening and panel, it wasn’t Al Pacino recounting an injury sustained on set, or even Steven Bauer talking about the film’s cultural legacy, that took center stage. Instead, the night took an unexpected turn when moderator Jesse Kornbluth asked star Michelle Pfeiffer a question about her weight during the filming of “Scarface.”
Today, Kornbluth has defended his remarks by criticizing “the knee-jerk political correctness of our time.”
At the event, Kornbluth faced immediate backlash for his question. “As the father of a daughter, I’m concerned with body image,” he asked Pfeiffer. “[During] the preparation for this film, what did you weigh?”
The actress, who plays Pacino’s character’s wife in the film, cocaine addict Elvira, was joined on stage by Pacino, De Palma, and Bauer, who looked visibly uncomfortable. The audience responded with loud jeers and boors, which was followed by immediate backlash on social media.
IndieWire reached out to Kornbluth for comment about the event, and he responded via email:
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.”
After the initial boos to his question, Kornbluth did offer a brief clarification, telling the crowd, “This is not the question you think it is.” He did not ask a follow-up question.
Pfeiffer eventually responded, “Well, okay. I don’t know. But I was playing a cocaine addict, which was part of the physicality of the part, which you have to consider.”
The Tribeca Film Festival did not respond to a request for comment.