Universal’s planned 21-st century rendition of Scarface looks to be moving faster now, after having spent the last 2-3 years slowly trudging along. The original 1932 Howard Hawks’ version was a film that dealt with what was – back then – the timely subject of American bootlegging; over fifty years passed before Brian De Palma’s 1983 redo hit theaters, updating the subject matter to focus on the then hot-topic issue of Cuban drug-smuggling.
It was over a year ago when rumor began to circulate that the new Scarface will address present-day concerns about Mexican drug cartels, as once again explored through the same narrative setup recycled from previous iterations: a young man from humble beginnings climbs his way to the top of a drug-fueled criminal empire, through violent means and his own willingness to indulge in psychotic behavior.
The latest from The Wrap confirms that Scarface protagonist Tony (last name in this version TBA) will, in fact, be a Mexican immigrant living in modern-day Los Angeles, who quickly rises in the city’s criminal underworld “as he strives for the American Dream.” Chances are good that the new Scarface will (as reported in the past) incorporate Mexican drug cartels into the mix, following the example of recent Hollywood features like The Last Stand, 2 Guns and this week’s new release, Sabotage.
The Wrap also included this plot blurb, which suggests that (in keeping with current trends) the new Scarface will paint a more sympathetic, yet nonetheless critical portrait of its anti-hero:
The new “Scarface” will be a more mythic origin story that explores where Tony’s physical and emotional wounds come from and how they shaped him as a man.
Interestingly, Sabotage co-writer/director David Ayer wrote an earlier script draft for the Scarface remake, before Oscar-nominee Paul Attanasio was brought onboard to put together the screenplay currently being used. Harry Potter alum David Yates was originally gearing up to direct the project the last time we reported on it, but he’s now instead moving forward with Tarzan for a 2016 release – and has been replaced by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín on “Scarface 3.0.”
Larraín’s Latino background is credited by The Wrap as having “allowed him to relate to the main character and his narrative” in a way that was instrumental to him landing the Scarface directing job. Similarly, the director’s previous films include such acclaimed titles as Post Mortem and No; both works examine Chile’s political corruption and governmental abuse (and their moral/ethical implications) during the last quarter of the 20th century, from a more intimate perspective. Which is to say, Larraín certainly sounds like a reasonable candidate for this new take on Scarface.
As for the film’s lead, it’s being reported that Universal wants to cast “an authentic Latino who is bilingual and bicultural.” Such well-respected character actors as Oscar Isaac and Édgar Ramírez could be sought to fit that bill, though it’s said that the Scarface producers – a roster that includes Marc Shmuger – are also open to casting a newcomer, in order to meet that requirement.