Michelle Pfeiffer went to great lengths to play Elvira Hancock in the 1983 film "Scarface."
During a panel at New York City's Tribeca Film Festival Thursday to celebrate the film’s 35th anniversary, the actress revealed she subsisted on a diet of “tomato soup and Marlboros” to play the part of the cocaine-addicted character.
Pfeiffer was prompted to discuss her physical appearance in the movie after the night’s moderator asked what she weighed during production -- a question that elicited boos from the crowd.
“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,” she responded in a video captured by an attendee. “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.”
She added, “The problem was the movie went six months. 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.”
Pfieffer said concerned crew members were bringing her bagels because of how thin she was getting.
The role went on to become one of the actress’ most iconic. She was joined at the Tribeca reunion panel by co-stars Al Pacino, who played her drug lord husband Tony Montana, as well as actor Steve Bauer and director Brian De Palma.
The moderator later defended his question in an emailed response to IndieWire.
"It is true that a gentleman should never ask a woman about her weight. But that was not my question," he wrote. "It is a comment on the knee-jerk political correctness of our time that no one would be shocked if you asked Robert De Niro about the weight gain required for his role in ‘Raging Bull’ but you get booed -- not by many, but by a vocal few -- for asking Michelle Pfeiffer about the physical two-dimensionality required for her to play a cocaine freak in 'Scarface.'"