Michelle Pfeiffer joined Brian De Palma, Al Pacino, and Steven Bauer at the Tribeca Film Festival for a special screening and Q&A, celebrating their classic crime-drama Scarface. After the male panelists were asked about their process for 16 minutes, moderator Jesse Kornbluth’s first question for Pfeiffer was about her weight.
You might wonder why her weight is at all relevant. Well, Kornbluth was going for sexist bullshit BINGO. He asked, “Michelle, as the father of a daughter, I’m concerned with body image. The preparation for this film, what did you weigh?”
There’s a lot to unpack here. First off, Kornbluth clearly missed the memo that pulling the whole “father of a daughter” line isn’t all that woke, as it suggests you didn’t bother to empathize with women until you were personally responsible for raising one. Secondly, he’s basically taking Pfeiffer to task for being very thin in a role where she played a cocaine addict, suggesting it’s Elvira Hancock’s weight that makes the character a bad role model. Third, that means what exactly? That actresses are only allowed to play upstanding characters? Did Kornbluth ask Pacino if he felt responsible for the untold number of men who idolized dangerous drug lord Tony Montana? Or was Kornbluth suggesting that Pfeiffer was to blame for creating a negative role model for girls when the director, who chose her costume and weighed in on every detail of production, was sitting right there? Either way, it’s a preposterous proposition. But let’s be clear: It was a blatantly sexist question.
The closest thing to a silver lining about this insanely bad question was that the audience wasn’t having it. They booed, and one person called out, “Why do you need to know?”
The SCARFACE moderator just “as the father of a daughter”-ed Michelle Pfeiffer and then asked her how much she weighed before she started filming and half the audience yelled “NOO NOOO NOOO!” #Tribeca2018— Kate Erbland (@katerbland) April 20, 2018
As for Pfeiffer, you can see her reaction to Kornbluth’s question in these three photos, thanks to film critic and friend of Pajia, Jason Bailey.
Oh hey just plugged in my camera and look: Michelle Pfeiffer reacting to the bad question, in three photos pic.twitter.com/BVHO9Pvqym— Jason Bailey (@jasondashbailey) April 20, 2018
Once the booing died down, Pfeiffer answered that she didn’t know what she weighed at the time, and said, “But I was playing a cocaine addict. So that was part of the physicality of the part, which you have to consider.” She then attempted to turn the conversation to her craft, saying, “The movie was only supposed to be a three-month, four-month shoot, so of course I tried to time it that as the shoot went on I became thinner and thinner and more emaciated.” But production stretched to eight months and she says, “I was starving by the end of it.” She added, “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.”
So, Pfeiffer transformed her body in service to her character. While this gets the likes of Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, and Jared Leto praise, it got iconic actress and three-time Academy Award nominee Michelle Pfeiffer body-shamed by “father of a daughter” and self-proclaimed “cultural concierge” Jesse Kornbluth. Because never forget that a woman’s body and looks matter more than how she actually performs her job, right?
You can hear the infuriating exchange for yourself in the videos below:
The infamous moment at tonight’s #Scarface reunion panel where #MichellePfeiffer was asked by the moderator (who apparently is “the father of a daughter”) how much she weighed during filming, which was followed by a mixture of confusion and disdain from the audience. #Tribeca2018 pic.twitter.com/xQUQ6FJqtC— Mark Espinosa (@SportsGuy515) April 20, 2018
Here’s that appalling Michelle Pfeiffer moment in full. Her ability to gracefully shrug off such blatant condescension is truly amazing, one might even say Oscar-worthy. pic.twitter.com/cmSfVAF2tq— Matthew Eng (@Eng_Matthew) April 20, 2018