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April 26, 2023

Portraits of Al Pacino as Tony Montana in “Scarface” (1983)

Antonio “Tony” Montana is a fictional character and the protagonist of the 1983 film Scarface, the character is portrayed by Al Pacino. Embodying the rise from the bottom to the top, Tony Montana has become a cultural icon and is one of the most well-known movie characters ever.

Pacino insisted on taking the lead role in Scarface, although Robert De Niro had been offered this role and had turned it down. Pacino worked with various trainers for the role, including experts in knife combat and boxer Roberto Durán. Durán also helped inspire the character, who had “a certain lion in him,” according to Pacino. Meryl Streep’s immigrant character in Sophie’s Choice (1982) also influenced Pacino’s portrayal of Tony Montana. His co-star Steven Bauer and a dialect coach helped him learn aspects of the Cuban dialect and pronunciation.

In 2008, Montana was named the 27th Greatest Movie Character by Empire magazine. The character is partly based on Tony Camonte, the protagonist of the original novel and the 1932 film adaptation; Camonte was, in turn, an adaptation of Tony Guarino from the 1929 novel, which in turn was a loose fictionalization of real-life Italian-American gangster Al Capone, born in Brooklyn, New York in 1899. In contrast to Guarino and Camonte, who were Italian immigrants, Montana is a Cuban immigrant. According to Oliver Stone, Tony’s last name was inspired by former NFL quarterback Joe Montana, Stone’s favorite player. Montana has a large scar on his face, which explains why he is known as Scarface. This is the same type of scar that Al Capone received from a bar fight in 1917 at the Harvard Inn.


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