Universal Pictures has been trying to get a new Scarface remake off the ground for years, but it now appears as though the studio is willing to go an interesting route rather than an expected one. Luca Guadagnino, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker behind lush films like Call Me By Your Name and A Bigger Splash, is currently attached to direct the film, and he has ambitious R-rated plans for the material.
Speaking with BadTaste.it at the Venice Film Festival (in Italian and translated to English), Guadagnino said what appeals to him about doing Scarface is the Tony Montana character as an archetype, and as a way to tell a story about the American Dream in the current era, just as Howard Hawks’ 1932 original and Brian De Palma’s 1983 remake were of their time:
“The truth is that I’m interested in the Tony Montana character. He’s a symptom of the American Dream. And I think that these movies are made for their times. My own Scarface will arrive 40 years after the previous one. I think the important thing about these movies is not the fact that they’re lush and fundamental like Brian De Palma’s one. The important thing is knowing that Tony Montana is an archetypal character.”
Guadagnino spoke about the controversial violence in Hawks’ original film, and how its depiction of evil made audiences turn up in droves:
“Remember when [Hawks’ movie] opened, it was accompanied by titles that said, ‘The filmmakers don’t endorse criminal behavior.’ That movie was sensational, hugely popular. Probably more than De Palma’s movie, in proportion. It’s almost 100 years that Tony Montana affects the imagination of the audience, and this happens in part because we are attracted by what is capable of producing evil. And in part because we want to make something bigger than ourselves. It’s about the dream of fulfilling, of success.”
So when telling his own version of this story, Guadagnino laid out three keys to success:
“The important things are A. It has to be well done, the script has to be great – and it is. B. Our Tony Montana has to be current. I don’t want to imitate anything. C. This movie has to be shocking.”
To the latter point, Guadagnino brought up his striking remake of the horror film Suspiria (which is sorely underrated and on Amazon Prime now) and revealed that he intends for his Scarface to be a hard R-rated film:
“I told you about Suspiria and I kept the promise to you then, [and] I think I will surprise you with this movie too. Brian De Palma’s movie was Rated R, so I want a big R on my movie too.”
It’s unclear exactly when this new Scarface will happen, but it sounds like Guadagnino is ready to go. He’s about to release his HBO limited series We Are Who We Are and is also attached to direct a new adaptation of Lord of the Flies, but one imagines Universal will be keen on getting this new Scarface remake ready in time for the 40th anniversary of De Palma’s film in 2023. And Guadagnino has a real knack for creating all-encompassing worlds that envelop the audience, so I really can’t wait to see him put his stamp on the American Dream.