Steven Bauer (right) with Al Pacino in Scarface
Everett Collection

When it was released 30 years ago this month, Brian De Palma’s Scarface was a commercial success at $65 million but was critically reviled as the poster child for moral depravity and violence. Three decades later, the saga of a Cuban drug lord in Miami is an iconic piece of cinema widely influential in pop culture. It was the feature-film debut of STEVEN BAUER, now 57, who left an indelible impression as Manny Ribera, the lion-hearted but doomed right-hand man of Al Pacino’s Tony Montana. Bauer reflects on what it was like to work with Pacino.

“I was living in this shack in Malibu, and Al had a place down the beach, and we’d hang out together every day for a month before shooting started. I was the only Cuban actually cast in this movie about Cuban immigrants and gangsters, so this was a chance for Al and me to talk and hang out and get close and for him to work on his accent with a real Cuban guy. It was important for the movie for us to be tight so the movie really had that tragic punch at the ending. I mean, this is the movie where everyone dies in the end. But when Al shoots me at the end of the movie, we wanted that to be really brutal, sad, devastating, and the way Al and I got close before shooting, then hanging out in his trailer every day on the set — I think that made a big difference. We were like brothers. This was my first film, so I was kind of anxious, and I’m surrounded by all of these great actors and trying to figure out how it would play with audiences and what it would mean for my career. I’d ask Al, like, every day, ‘What do you think?’ And he told me, ‘Kid, half of them are going to love this movie and half of them are going to hate it. There’s no middle ground on a piece like this.’ And he was right. When the movie came out, audiences loved it, but the critics despised it. Thirty years later, I think Scarface has stood the test of time.”
— As told to J. Rentilly