The past few years of American entertainment have been dominated by several trends, and two of the biggest have been anti-heroes and remakes. When those two collide it can mean big things for moviegoers. While many of these projects seem like hit-or-miss propositions, an Antoine Fuqua directed, Terence Winter written Scarface movie is on the way, and our interest is piqued.
This will actually mark the 3rd version of the Scarface story, each of which tells a different story of an immigrant turned crime lord. The 1932 Scarface told the story of an Italian immigrant, Tony Camonte (Paul Muni), who climbs the ranks of the mob on Chicago’s south side; the 1983 Brian De Palma's Scarface chronicled the rise and fall of Tony Montana (Al Pacino), a Cuban immigrant in Miami; and the new Fuqua film will be a “very timely” story about a Mexican immigrant in LA.
The moment the words “Scarface remake” are uttered, the first question on everyone’s lips is naturally “who will play Tony Montana?” Considering Fuqua’s emphasis on the film’s timely focus on Mexican immigration, and the long-held criticisms of the De Palma version for casting the Italian Al Pacino as a Cuban, it’s very important that this film brings on one of the many talented Latino actors working today for the role.
Fortunately, Fuqua has a wealth of actors to bring on to this project. Here are 15 Actors That Could Play Tony Montana In Antoine Fuqua’s Scarface.
Of all the names on this list, Del Toro’s probably comes with the most audience recognition. He already has an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Traffic (and an additional nomination for 21 Grams) under his belt, he’s had big roles in fan-favorite films like Snatch, The Usual Suspects, Guardians of the Galaxy, and others. He was also almost a big part in Shane Black’s upcoming Predator movie, although he just dropped out, but he has an even higher profile gig on its way as a mystery character in Star Wars: Episode 8.
Benicio’s talent isn’t in question; he has it in spades. The biggest question for him is whether or not his age will fit with this version of Tony Montana. Del Toro is 49 years old, and while an older version of the character certainly isn’t implausible, Director Antoine Fuqua is likely looking for a more youthful performer. Al Pacino was 42 when he played the character, though, so a Del Toro performance isn’t out of the question.
Before his more recent part in Narcos, many Americans would be hard-pressed to recognize Manolo Cardona from any of his work outside of Beverly Hills Chihuahua, but Manolo has a filmography of more than a few dozen films that many latino audience members might be more familiar with. His roles have ranged from a drug dealer to gay painter, and he’s even been recognized by a few organizations as one of the best actors in Columbia on more than one occasion.
His turn as Eduardo Sandoval in Narcos might be just the beginning of his entry into more mainstream entertainment in the United States - if that’s what he wants to do with his career - and getting cast as Tony Montana would serve to cement that presence. His ability to land this role depends mainly on the studio’s desire to get a name that most Americans recognize. If they want a popular top billing actor that audiences in the US have heard of, howerver, Manolo has a much smaller shot.
Ryan Guzman is another fresh face with a big future in Hollywood. His first on-screen appearance came only a few years ago in 2012 for Step Up Revolution, but he’s quickly gained popularity and has landed many more jobs, including a role in the Heroes revival, Heroes Reborn, also earning himself a role in Richard Linklater’s most recent production, Everybody Wants Some!!. His involvement with Linklater could be his gateway involvement in films more serious than Step Up Revolution.
Guzman’s fresh face and energy would do well to compliment the early stages of Tony Montana’s journey from a fresh-faced immigrant eager to seize the world to a crazed drug lord who thought he could own it. As he continues to make a name for himself, Guzman has an opportunity to do more than just make a statement about his talent if he finds himself attached to a film like Fuqua’s Scarface.
Like Del Toro, Javier Bardem would fall on the older side of this lineup, necessitating an older version of the character, but his past performances and raw talent are too much for him to completely avoid consideration. The Spaniard is beyond well-established as a talented actor, usually garnering critical acclaim for his roles, even winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in No Country For Old Men - along with two more nominations on other occasions.
The big thing separating Bardem from the competition is his experience portraying villains. His Academy Award was for playing a hitman in No Country for Old Men, he became a Bond villain, Silva, in Skyfall, and is even portraying Pablo Escobar in the upcoming “Escobar” biopic. The gravitas he brings to his villainous roles is exactly what most people think about when they envision Tony Montana - particularly in the final act of Scarface - and his name would be a major draw, provided Antoine Fuqua wants a more aged anti-hero.
He may have made his reputation doing TV comedy, but Bobby Cannavale has a versatility and intensity that frequently lands him critical acclaim in supporting roles or guest spots on TV, he even has two Primetime Emmys: Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series from Will and Grace (with two more nominations, both from Nurse Jackie) and another for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series from Boardwalk Empire - with a slew of additional awards and nominations from other organizations. To say he’s talented would be putting it lightly.
Scarface is frequently derided for failing to stand up to other classic movies from the likes of Scorsese or Tarantino, but what many of those complaints miss is the fact that Scarface is, at its heart, a black comedy. Pacino’s over the top performance, the cranked up to eleven hyper-violence, and the unrealistic levels of drug consumption all serve to satirize the level of violence and greed commonly glorified in similar movies. As proficient as Cannavale is with dark comedy, and roles like Gyp Rosetti from Boardwalk Empire already under his belt, a turn as Tony Montana could be a great fit.
Edgar Ramirez never planned to go into acting. His original plan was to pursue work as a Venezuelan Diplomat. H e was convinced to become an actor by multiple Oscar-winning writer, director, and producer Alejandro Iñárritu, but he originally turned down Inarritu’s request for him to star in Amores Perros - a film that would go on to see massive acclaim at many major film festivals. After seeing the success of the film he’d turned down, Edgar decided he did want to act after all.
After getting his start in his home country of Venezuela, Ramirez eventually landed roles in Bourne Ultimatum and Vantage Point, opening the door to more Hollywood work. In just the past few years, he’s appeared in Wrath of the Titans, Zero Dark Thirty, The Councellor, Point Break, Joy, and Girl on the Train. Needless to say, he’s quickly gained a strong presence, showing he has the acting chops necessary to tackle a role like Tony Montana in Fuqua’s Scarface.
Remember that Alejandro Iñárritu movie Edgar Ramirez turned down? That role ended up starting Gael García Bernal's career. His award-winning performance as Octavio in Amores Perros paved the way for many more roles, including Alfonso Cuarón's Y Tu Mamá También. García Bernal is very socially active, and Time magazine even listed him as one of their annual Top 100 Most Influential People.
When looking at Gael’s particular qualifications for the role of Tony Montana, there’s no question that he’s a talented performer, but not many of them have required him to exhibit the kind of intensity one would expect from the role. Based on his history, it’s hard to see him screaming “say hello to my little friend!”, but that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of delivering that kind of edge to his performance, it just means the role would be an opportunity to show us a side of him we haven’t seen before.
He’s new to the scene in general, especially to mainstream Hollywood films, but Manuel Garcia-Rulfo already has a film under his belt with Scarface director Antoine Fuqua. Fresh off of Magnificent 7, where Manuel held his own next to juggernauts like Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, Antoine Fuqua has raved about how great it was working with the whole cast, specifically mentioning how awesome it was to see Garcia-Rulfo show up to the dress rehearsal well practiced with spinning his guns like the Mexican outlaw that he played.
Making the jump to Scarface may be a big leap for Manuel, but his tenacity and existing rapport with Fuqua could equip him to turn in a great performance as a more modern Mexican outlaw in Scarface. Al Pacino himself didn’t have a huge resume before his role in The Godfather, and it predicated much of his career. Garcia-Rulfo’s rugged gunslinger attitude combined with his natural charisma make for what could be a great Tony Montana.
Juan Pablo Raba made a name for himself appearing in dozens of Spanish language TV shows in Columbia, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain, Mexico, Chile, the US, and Canada. Despite this small screen proliferation, it wasn’t until his role as Joey Gutierrez on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that he really became a known quantity to American audiences. Expanding this reach into the North American market, Raba also landed a big part (along with many others on this list) in the hit Netflix series, Narcos.
He clearly has a great work ethic and is gaining a reputation to increase his star power in the US. Along with the dynamic range he’s delivered in his varied performances (especially in Narcos), Juan Pablo Raba has shown he has what it takes to tackle the manic character of Tony Montana. Getting cast in such a big role would definitely be a big step up for him, but not one that’s out of line with the trajectory of his career.
While many viewers may see Michael Pena as a comedic actor for his portrayal of characters like Luis in Ant-Man, he’s done far more work in drama than he has in comedy, garnering critical recognition for his performances in movies like World Trade Center, Crash, and Cesar Chavez. Pena’s skill and versatility allow him to take on a variety of roles and should earn him a good hard look as Fuqua looks for his Tony Montana.
The one thing Pena lacks is the same grit traditionally associated with the role. That doesn’t mean he’s not capable of bringing the necessary intensity to the screen, but unless he’s able to deliver a performance unlike anything in the rest of his filmography, then this version of Tony Montana would need to be a little different from the version in Brian De Palma’s Scarface. Even if he doesn’t play the head honcho himself, don’t be shocked to see Pena show up somewhere in the movie.
Oscar Issac has really only been actively getting roles for the past decade, but in the past year he made the jump from quality indie films to several major big budget productions, playing a hero in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and a villain in X-Men: Apocalypse. The very nature of his first two forays into Hollywood blockbusters shows just how versatile he is.
While his big roles have definitely gotten him more attention, he’s still proving his talent in smaller films. His portrayal of Nathan in Ex Machina serves as a great argument for his ability to play an intense and unhinged Tony Montana. Isaac is a great pick for the leading role in Scarface, because his natural charisma is something many audience members enjoy watching, yet that charisma doesn’t detract from his ability to bring forth the fierce intensity necessary for a villain - a very necessary combination for anyone expected to carry a movie as an anti-hero.
As another multi-faceted performer, John Leguizamo got his start grinding it out in New York comedy clubs, but has since made the jump to the screen, where he’s almost constantly at work doing both TV and movies in live-action and voice-over animation. Even though his first big break came as the role of Luigi in the oft-derided Super Mario Bros. movie, Leguizamo only became more prolific as his career went along.
If it’s simply a matter of recreating a version of Tony Montana similar to the one formed by Al Pacino the 1983 movie, then Leguizamo definitely has what it takes to step into those shoes, but he also has the ability to take it in his own direction to redefine the character.
Ironically enough, John Leguizamo appeared Carlito’s Way in 1993, a film that, like the 1983 Scarface, was directed by Brian De Palma and starred Al Pacino.
Diego Luna didn’t just make the difficult transition from child actor to adult actor, he made the transition from child telenovela actor to a successful actor in Hollywood - he’s even the lead in a Star Wars movie (bringing the total Star Wars actors on this list to 3!). If his acting accomplishments aren’t enough on their own, Luna is a cinematic jack of all trades. In addition to acting, Lunawrites, directs, and owns Canana productions with lifelong friend Gael García Bernal. His Cesar Chavez biography even won an audience award at SXSW.
Luna is an up and coming name, and casting him as the new Tony Montana would be a surefire way to get audiences hyped for this movie. Diego is also a socially conscious and active person, so outside of performance, he could also be a great addition to a script that director Antoine Fuqua called “timely” due to the way it deals with modern issues like Mexican immigration and the war on drugs.
Few actors can boast a TV resume as impressive as that of Pedro Pascal, booking roles on The Mentalist, Graceland, Narcos, and of course his breakout performance on Game of Thrones. While he has managed to book a few film roles Pascal’s TV performances haven’t yet lead to any higher profile offerings, although that could change with Kingsman: The Golden Circle next year. As a talented up and comer, Pedro is bound to start seeing more high-profile roles in the coming years.
Pascal would be a great fit if they’re looking for a Tony Montana with a similar physicality to the version played by Al Pacino, and he has the gravitas to bring the role to life. Getting cast as the lead in Scarface would also propel him off the small screen and into true A-list status, a position for which his prior performances have made him more than qualified.
Jay Hernandez has been making the rounds in Hollywood for a while now, but only came into the brighter spotlight in more recent years. Ironically enough, he's already shared a character with Al Pacino. In 2005, Jay starred as Carlito Brigante in Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power, a prequel to Al Pacino’s 1993 film, Carlito’s Way. Unfortunately, Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power was enthusiastically panned by critics, but Jay Hernandez’s performance was universally praised at the same time.
Most recently, Hernandez had a prominent role in Suicide Squad as the character El Diablo. He also got high praise for that character, and many critics and fans even considered his character and performance to be on the of the most well-done aspects of the film. Hernandez is more than equipped to play a multi-faceted and edgy Tony Montana.
Are you excited by the prospect of an Antoine Fuqua Scarface movie? Do you want to see one of these actors play Tony Montana, or is there someone not mentioned you'd rather see? Let us hear about it in the comments!