“Say hello to my little friend” is a well-known portion of dialogue from one of Al Pacino’s most popular characters, Tony Montana. The actor, who had a string of successes in the 1970s with roles in “The Godfather” and “Dog Day Afternoon,” continued that run into the 1980s with “Scarface,” the story of gangster Tony Montana.
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The enduring line from that 1983 film – “Say hello to my little friend” – said with Montana holding a large, powerful weapon, still is quoted today.
Playing Montana didn’t make Pacino a star – he already was there – but it cemented his status as a film icon. Here are six quotes about the role of Tony Montana, as played by Pacino:
“Al Pacino does not make Montana into a sympathetic character, but he does make him into somebody we can identify with, in a horrified way, if only because of his perfectly understandable motivations. Wouldn’t we all like to be rich and powerful, have desirable sex partners, live in a mansion, be catered to by faithful servants – and hardly have to work? Well, yeah, now that you mention it. Dealing drugs offers the possibility of such a lifestyle, but it also involves selling your soul.
“Montana gets it all and he loses it all. That’s predictable. What is original about this movie is the attention it gives to how little Montana enjoys it while he has it.” – Roger Ebert
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“There’s something fablelike about Tony Montana. He’s like Icarus flying close to the sun, just going a little closer and closer, knowing as soon as he gets close enough those wings are going to get burned – he’s gonna soar right down. That’s what attracted me to that character. The whole idea of how he flirts with the sun. When were people ever not fascinated by the gangster world, that underworld, that world that’s illicit? It’s always fascinating to see how and why people go to the wrong side.” – Pacino to Interview Magazine in 1991
“On a deeper, thematic level, ‘Scarface’ is about something that recurs in a lot of my films: the megalomania of American society that can lead to excessiveness, greed, and very cruel interplays between people who are desperate to stay on top. Wealth and power isolates you. Whether you’re Walt Disney or Hugh Hefner, you create a bubble around yourself. It’s that old cliché: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Pacino conveyed that perfectly.” – “Scarface” director Brian De Palma to Bullett Media
“My first experience was seeing Paul Muni in the Howard Hughes film, the original ‘Scarface’ that they did in 1932. … I went and saw the film and called (producer) Marty Bregman after. I said, ‘I think we could do this thing. There’s a remake here.’ And he very wisely, very astutely, got out there and put the whole thing together. … I said, ‘I gotta be that Tony Montana guy. That’s my license to live.’” – Pacino at a 2011 Universal Studios bash to celebrate the Blu-Ray release of “Scarface,” as quoted by movieline.com
“I tell the truth, too, and here’s an abiding one: If there’s any quality that makes a piece of pop culture last, it’s energy. And like the chainsaw that dismembers Tony’s friend early on, ‘Scarface’ just roars. It’s as indelible as a cartoon, from Pacino’s dementedly hammy performance to a bevy of quotable lines, almost none of which are clean enough to be quoted here.” – John Powers, reassessing his review of “Scarface” to NPR
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“Pacino’s Tony Montana has inspired all kinds of pop-cultural movements and references, but the performance itself is so out-there it’s a cartoon – a great, one-of-a-kind cartoon, but still.” – Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News
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