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Michelle Pfeiffer went the distance for one of her most iconic roles.
During a panel Thursday night celebrating the 35th anniversary of Scarface, the actress revealed she was living off a diet of “tomato soup and Marlboros” to embody Elvira, the movie’s tragic heroine who’s addicted to cocaine.
The audience at the Tribeca Film Festival panel loudly booed the question from the night’s moderator that prompted her response, when he asked, “The preparation for this film — what did you weigh?”
“Well, okay,” Pfeiffer responded. “I don’t know, but I was playing a cocaine addict so that was part of the physicality of the part, which you have to consider. The movie was only supposed to be, what? A three-month, four-month [shoot]? Of course, I tried to time it so that as the movie went on I became thinner and thinner and more emaciated.”
“The problem was the movie went six months,” she continued. “I was starving by the end of it because the one scene that was the end of the film where I needed to be my thinnest, it was [pushed to the] next week and then it was the next week and then it was the next week. I literally had members of the crew bringing me bagels because they were all worried about me and how thin I was getting. I think I was living on tomato soup and Marlboros.”
Pfeiffer was joined at the reunion by her costars Al Pacino and Steve Bauer, along with director Brian De Palma.
The Batman Returns actress, 59, said she learned a lot from acting opposite Pacino, 77, who played her drug lord onscreen husband in the 1983 crime classic.
“I have to say, one of the things that hit me the strongest from the beginning was watching him fiercely protect his character at all costs and without any sort of apology,” she recalled of the Oscar winner. “And I had always tried to emulate that and I tried to be polite about it, but I think that that’s what really makes great acting.”
The Tribeca Film Festival runs until April 29 in New York City.
Michelle Pfeiffer Lived on 'Marlboros and Tomato Soup' to Play a Cocaine Addict in Scarface