Robert De Niro Shoots Down an Internet Rumor About Scarface: ‘Not True’

Robert De Niro shoots down Scarface rumor Al Pacino

Across the internet – from Wikipedia to an Associated Press story to Maxim to Complex– you can find unsourced assertions that Robert De Niro turned down the lead role in Scarface, which cleared the way for his The Irishman co-star, Al Pacino, to take on the explosive part of Tony Montana. 

But De Niro says it never happened. 

His publicist, Stan Rosenfeld, checked with the actor at our request and responded to the De Niro-rejected-Scarface rumor with a simple but firm “NOT TRUE.” 

Also read: 4 Times Al Pacino and Robert De Niro Were Up for the Same Roles

So how did the claim spread? We have no idea, because it makes no sense if you know the history of Scarface, and how integral Pacino was in the film’s creation. 

Pacino told author Lawrence Grobel in 1983, the year Scarface was released, that he came up with the idea of remaking the original Scarface, a 1932 gangster film that starred Paul Muni. Pacino told Grobel he was working on a movie in Los Angeles when he saw “this little theater on Sunset Boulevard playing Scarface.” 

As he recounted in Grobel’s book Al Pacino, he went in to see it and was impressed by the “real feeling in it, a grand feeling,” and by Muni’s performance.

Also read: Martin Scorsese Tells Spike Lee How Donald Trump Influenced The Irishman

“I thought it would be interesting to make a remake of this, in another way,” Pacino said.

Pacino told Grobel he called producer Martin Bregman about making the film. Pacino said he was first interested in setting the remake in the 1930s, but that his Dog Day Afternoondirector, Sidney Lumet, came up with the idea of instead setting the film in 1980s Miami.

“It inspired Bregman,” Pacino continued. “He and Oliver Stone got together and produced a script that had a lot of energy and was very well-written.”

Given Pacino’s role in the film from the beginning, it’s unlikely he ever considered anyone but himself for the lead part. He and De Niro both starred in The 1974’s Godfather Part II, 1995’s Heat and 2008’s Righteous Kill, and shared scenes in the latter two films.

But Pacino and De Niro have played several roles that could have gone to the other. De Niro joked about that fact in 2015 while paying tribute to Pacino at an American Cinematheque celebration of the latter’s work.

“Al, over the years we’ve taken roles from one another. People have tried to compare us to one another, to pit us against each other and to tear us apart personally. I’ve never seen the comparison, frankly.”

He added wryly: “I’m clearly much taller, more the leading-man type.” 

“Honestly, you may just be the finest actor of our generation,” he continued. “With the possible exception of me, frankly.”

De Niro and Pacino’s latest collaboration, Martin Scorsese’sThe Irishman, comes to theaters Friday and Netflix on Nov. 27.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.