While murmurs of a remake of the iconic property Scarface have surfaced for some time now, it appears the project is started to take shape, as Universal Pictures is tapping Chilean director Pablo Larraín for a new take on the immortal gangster classic. As reported by The Wrap, Universal was swept up by the Larraín take on the project, which would be set in modern-day Los Angeles and serve as an origin tale of how an immigrant gets embroiled into a life of crime in an attempt to find his piece of the American Dream. Larraín is not yet confirmed, but is deep in negotiations for the project.
Director Peter Yates had previously been thought of a top choice to helm the new iteration, but he instead dropped out to film a new live-action version of Tarzan for Warner Bros. Larraín last directed the film No, a critically admired 2012 feature that starred Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mama Tambien) that was nominated for the Foreign Language Film Academy Award. This would mark Larraín’s first English-language feature. Oscar-nominated screenwriter Paul Attanasio (Quiz Show, Donnie Brasco) wrote the current draft of the script.
When most think of Scarface, it’s the incendiary 1983 version directed by Brian De Palma that comes to mind. The frantic and kinetically violent film featured Al Pacino as Cuban immigrant-turned-drug-kingpin Tony Montana, and has come to be of a certain legend in the subsequent years. Curiously, the film earned mixed to bad reviews when it first opened, as critics and audiences were polarized by the graphic violence and the larger than life characterization by Pacino. Controversial, perhaps, even today, the film nonetheless struck a massive chord with those who did appreciate it – James Franco’s character in Spring Breakers, released just last year, is seen in part as a salute to Tony Montana. De Palma’s film, however, wasn’t the first on-screen version of the story. That would be the 1932 feature directed Howard Hawks and Richard Rosson, starring Paul Muni. That film was also controversial in its day thanks to the severity of the violence depicted on screen at the time.
Little else is known about the upcoming re-imagining of the story, save for one tidbit that the central character of Larraín’s Scarface will be Mexican. The 1932 version featured an Italian gangster, while De Palma’s remake was centered around a Cuban immigrant – ironically neither Muni (who was Austrian) and Pacino (who is Italian) were of the nationality they portrayed.