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Fandango had a chance to talk with Fuqua in advance of The Magnificent Seven arriving in theaters (stay tuned for more of that conversation this week), and we asked about the current status of this Scarface remake. Is it still happening?
"I read the script they have and it's actually really interesting and very timely," Fuqua said. "We're dealing with a lot of stuff now coming out of Mexico. And again, we still have those issues dealing with the "American Dream", and the fact that the game is rigged, right? It's not really an even playing field, but the promise is that it is. The promise is that everyone gets a fair shot, but that's not always the case. So that's always relevant, and right now with what's happening in Mexico, which is where [the main character] comes from -- he comes out of Mexico -- that's relevant, especially when you've got people talking about putting up walls and other kinds of stuff. We're still dealing with immigration, we're still dealing with what would turn someone into Scarface."
Fuqua went on to talk about how this new contemporary version of Scarface will deal with the problems many immigrants face when they arrive in the United States looking for a fair shot only to find anything but.
"They all leave these small countries, and it's hard to become Scarface unless you're someone like El Chapo," he said. "It's hard to become that guy in America. But what happens when you have a guy who has that same appetite and the doors keep getting shut in his face? What happens when he only knows one thing, for sure -- which is how to go and take it? I just think being disenfranchised is dangerous. When people are disenfranchised and delusional, it's just dangerous. I think it's more relevant than ever right now, and it can be extremely entertaining. So we'll see."
Is he bringing his Training Day and Magnificent Seven stars Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke with him to Scarface? "So far, no," Fuqua said. "We still need to do the casting and I have to have a couple more meetings on it. I would love to, though! I just haven't wrapped my head around it yet."
As for that Equalizer sequel currently scheduled to hit theaters next September, Fuqua says he'll make another movie before that, all but confirming there will be no Equalizer 2 in 2017. Will Scarface take its place? "Whether it's Scarface or something else, there will be another movie before that happens," he revealed.
HipHopDX: After the tumbleweeds clear for Magnificent 7 and everything, you are moving on to Scarface correct? You know that’s like Hip Hop’s favorite movie.
Antoine Fuqua: [Laughs] Yeah, I know. I’m having real conversations about it. It’s something I’m talking about doing right now. I would like to do it honestly man; at one point I was hesitant. But again, when I read the script, even on that one, it’s all about is it relevant today? Does it speak to today? And it does! This cat comes up in Mexico. He’s not Cuban [like Al Pacino’s 1983 character]. And it’s pretty hardcore.
HipHopDX: That’s how it should be.
Antoine Fuqua: Right? Because you dealing with El Chapo and everyone else, it’s a different world now. That’s where they’re coming from. And it touches on a more modern day, not just gangsterism but how everything moves now on the streets. How money moves now. The Scarface [from 1983], he couldn’t survive today. We saw that. The Pablos came and went. El Chapo is about to go. So what’s next?
HipHopDX: Could you see a rapper playing that role?
Antoine Fuqua: I’ll say never to anything. If somebody come in the room and they have what it takes and they got the right skill set and presence to do that, then why not? I believe in those kind of movies. You gotta be raw. You gotta be a fuckin’ animal, man. You gotta be highly intelligent but you gotta be an animal. Now Scarface was an animal. He was a fuckin’ beast. Period. So that’s how I see that. It’s gotta be somebody that young people connect to because Scarface was all about taking the dream. You can’t wait for somebody to give it to you.
And so that's where it stand for the moment. Fuqua is gearing up for the release next month of yet another remake, The Magnificent Seven, which will also be the opening night film at next month's Toronto International Film Festival.
And lest we forget to mention, twelve years ago, Fuqua was gearing up to direct Capone Rising, a prequel to Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. De Palma eventually decided that he wanted to direct that one, after all, but then that project got mired in red tape. In any case, here's a fun item from June 30, 2004:
|Posted June 30 2004|
FLASHBACK - 2004
FUQUA WANTS SEAN PENN FOR UNTOUCHABLES 'PREQUEL'
One of the Hollywood projects Brian De Palma was considering taking on last fall was Tru Blu, the biopic of heroin smuggler Frank Lucas. But De Palma signed on for The Black Dahlia, and while he was working on that film, Antoine Fuqua, director of the upcoming King Arthur, signed on to direct Tru Blu. According to IESB.net, Fuqua mentioned at the King Arthur press junket that he will also be working on a prequel to The Untouchables. The prequel will focus on a young Al Capone, and Fuqua says his ideal choice of actor for the role would be Sean Penn. (Isn't Penn about the age right now that Robert De Niro was when he played Capone? The magic of movies.) Penn pal Benicio Del Toro will star opposite Denzel Washington in Fuqua's Tru Blu. But the intertextuality of Penn playing a younger version of De Niro after De Niro, early in his career, played a younger version of Marlon Brando in The Godfather: Part II is intriguing. Speaking of which, Fuqua also mentioned that he wants to direct a Godfather film.
Larraín’s films aren’t just politically alive, they’re bracing as cinema. No was shot on U-matic tape to imitate lo-fi 80s Chilean TV news; The Club unfolds in ashen half-light, as if the moral rot had got into the sun. He shrugs at the idea that, as a director, moving into the English language is inevitable. “I just want to be able to control the story, and for it to mean something to me.” But he is making his first American film: Jackie, a portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy in the days after John F Kennedy’s assassination. Before that will be another Chilean movie, Neruda, about the 1940s hounding of the communist poet Pablo Neruda. “The scale is big. The money. Here, you might not think it was big, but it’s big for us in Chile.”
The money may get bigger still. Larraín’s dream project, marooned in development, is a remake of Brian De Palma’s Scarface. It would be set in Los Angeles, with a Mexican kingpin replacing the Cuban Tony Montana: quite something in Trumpian times. Larraín is coy. “I could never talk about a movie I haven’t made yet.” It would be a hell of a risk, remaking a film whose every line is someone’s favourite ever. There’s a laugh and an eye roll. “Tell me about it!”
The M203 grenade launcher was introduced in 1969 and used extensively by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. But Tony's had to be fabricated by the studio props department because Scarface prop master John Zemansky couldn't find a manufacturer willing to sell him an actual, live-firing M203. The launcher is not technically illegal to possess (or at least it wasn't in California in the early '80s), but it is classified as a "destructive device" under the National Firearms Act and requires a special license to own.
"I basically manufactured one that looks exactly like the real one except that I put a different trigger system in so it would fire a blank cartridge," says Zemansky, who had five duplicate launchers made for the production. "We put a sleeve in [the barrel] to accept what kind of cartridge we wanted." Because the fabricated weapons weren't capable of firing actual 40mm grenades (Zemansky recalls that it was outfitted to fire shotgun shells), they weren't subject to the same onerous regulations as a real M203.
Still, after Scarface wrapped, the fake M203s were sold off to Stembridge Gun Rentals, an armory that supplies weapons to Hollywood productions. "I didn't want it because I didn't want to have a problem with the ATF or anybody! It was easier just to get it out of my possession," says Zemansky.
Stembridge rented out Tony's "Little Friend" to other films and TV shows over the years. Most notably, it appeared in Clint Eastwood's Heartbreak Ridge (1986) and John McTiernan's 1987 action classic Predator, where Arnold Schwarzenegger himself toted it in several scenes. It even appears on the one-sheet.
Stembridge Gun Rentals' Syd Stembridge says he no longer has any of the Scarface M203s in his collection, but one of the launchers sold at auction in November (attached to a replica AR-15) for $54,400. A big number for a little friend.
"It’s a crime that the site that gave us Narcos didn’t already have Scarface on file — then again, maybe that was a strategic move, as the TV show pales in comparison to Brian De Palma’s red-blooded epic. As he rises to the top of Miami’s drug trade, Al Pacino says all the lines you’ve heard teenage boys misquote elsewhere. A reboot was in the works a while back, but why would you want that? Just watch this."
"Directed by Brian De Palma (Carrie, The Untouchables) and written by Oliver Stone (Platoon, Natural Born Killers), Scarface has arguably become one of the most iconic gangster movies of all time since its release, despite being nominated for a Razzie Award way back in 1984. So if crime drama is your thing, make sure you 'say hello' to one of the best in the genre.
"Watch this if you enjoyed: Carlito's Way, The Godfather, Goodfellas, American Gangster, Serpico, Training Day, Deep Cover, Casino and Once Upon A Time In America."
"How well does Scarface hold up? You can find out on March 1st. Admittedly, not all of Brian De Palma‘s rise-and-fall drug kingpin story has aged well. The montage set to 'Push it to the Limit' is a product of its time, but Al Pacino‘s performance remains monstrous and grand. It’s a larger-than-life kind of performance, which has earned its iconic status. Scarface is a highly-entertaining crime film. Maybe it’s not De Palma’s best, but Pacino’s performance is just so ferocious and fun."
"How much money will you make writing this article?" he asks. I answer that when I do journalism, I take no payment. I could see that, to him, the idea of doing any kind of work without payment is a fool's game. Unlike the gangsters we're used to, the John Gotti's who claimed to be simple businessmen hiding behind numerous international front companies, El Chapo sticks to an illicit game, proudly volunteering, "I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats."
He is entirely unapologetic. Against the challenges of doing business in such a clandestine industry he has ––built an empire. I am reminded of press accounts alleging a hundred-million-dollar bounty the man across from me is said to have put on Donald Trump's life. I mention Trump. El Chapo smiles, ironically saying, "Ah! Mi amigo!" His unguarded will to speak freely, his comfort with his station in life and ownership of extraordinary justifications, conjure Tony Montana in Oliver Stone's Scarface. It's the dinner scene where Elvira, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, walks out on Al Pacino's Tony Montana, loudly assailing him in a public place. The patrons at the restaurant stare at him, but rather than hide in humiliation, he stands and lectures them. "You're all a bunch of fucking assholes. You know why? You don't have the guts to be what you wanna be. You need people like me. You need people like me. So you can point your fucking fingers and say, 'That's the bad guy.' So what's that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide...how to lie. Me? I don't have that problem. Me?! I always tell the truth even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy. C'mon. Last time you're gonna see a bad guy like this again, lemme tell ya!"
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