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20 Magical Facts About My Little Pony

My Little Pony—one of Hasbro's most recognizable and beloved toy lines—has been flying off shelves since it debuted in 1983. Here are a few things you might not have known about the toys, the TV shows they starred in, the Bronies they inspired, and their upcoming movie.

1. A REAL-LIFE PONY INSPIRED CREATOR BONNIE ZACHERLE.

As a child, Bonnie Zacherle and her family lived in Japan, where her father—an Army Colonel and a veterinarian—cared for all the quarantined animals entering and leaving the country. Zacherle particularly loved a chubby little Korean pack pony named Knicker. Sadly, when they left Japan, they couldn’t take Knicker with them. As Zachlere recounted about herself at My Little Pony Fair 2008, “Bonnie's father promised her some day, she would have a horse, or a pony, of her very own. By the time he retired from the Army, however, Bonnie was in high school. Her father said, ‘you can have a horse, but you'll have to get up early every morning and come home right after school to take care of the horse. Also, you won't be able to take vacations or go away to college.’ Or, have friends, in other words.”

Zacherle never got her horse, but Knicker would stick with her. “They were chubby because, I think because my pony was a little chubby,” she said, “and I think a lot of ponies get that way because they’re short in stature—they’re not long-legged thoroughbreds, you know.”

2. ZACHERLE PITCHED A HORSE TOY TO HASBRO FOR YEARS WITHOUT SUCCESS …

After getting her degree in illustration from Syracuse University, Zacherle worked at a greeting card company and soon found herself doing freelance design work for Hasbro in the evening. When the card company was sold in the late '70s, she left to join Hasbro full time. She pitched a horse toy—which she imagined would be cuddly, with a combable tail and mane—for three years, but was turned down every time. “My boss, and probably several others, shot it down, saying, ‘Bonnie, little girls aren’t like you. They like to cook and clean and iron,’” Zacherle said, “and I’m like, ‘You must be kidding me.’”

3. … UNTIL EVENTUALLY, A HIGHER-UP ASKED FOR A PONY TOY.

In 2014, Zacherle recalled that, a year after she had given up on her toy horse design, a friend of hers at Hasbro told her, “You know, Bonnie, our boss has this idea and it’s really the same as yours only it’s not a horse, it’s a pony. And he wants to make it big and have all these extra mechanical things in it.” Zacherle was asked to sketch a design for the pony.

4. MY PRETTY PONY DEBUTED IN 1981.

The more than 10-inch-tall toy was made of hard plastic and had a lever under the chin that made the toy’s ears wiggle, its eye wink, and its tail swish. My Pretty Pony was relatively successful, selling a couple million units.

5. A MARKETING EXECUTIVE’S WIFE SUGGESTED TWEAKS THAT LED TO MY LITTLE PONY.

After My Pretty Pony’s moderate success, Hasbro’s Vice President of Marketing brought one of the toys home to his wife and asked her to evaluate it—and she had some feedback. “She said, ‘Well, it’s good, I guess, but I think it should be small and soft, have combable hair, and [be] played with like a doll,’” Zacherle recalled. “So, consequently he took his wife’s advice—smartly—and came back to me and said, ‘Listen, I want you to make exactly the same toy, only shrink it down and make it soft and, you know, combable hair, and don’t change a thing about it.’ I didn’t even redraw it, I think I just shrunk the original drawings. ... So that’s how it got to be that small.” The new ponies were 5 to 6 inches tall and made of much more snuggly vinyl.

Hasbro filed a patent for My Little Pony in August 1981; it was granted two years later. There are three inventors listed: Zacherle, Charles Muenchinger, and Steven D. D’Aguanno. Muenchinger, a sculptor at Hasbro, turned Zacherle’s drawings into a physical form that could be reproduced; D’Aguanno was the General Manager of Research and Development at Hasbro at the time.

6. MY LITTLE PONY WAS INITIALLY SUPPOSED TO BE A GENDER-NEUTRAL TOY FOR PRESCHOOLERS.

The bright ponies we know and love were not what Zacherle initially had in mind. She envisioned toys that looked like real animals—“appaloosa, dappled grey, palomino, pintos”—and would be played with by preschool girls and boys. She created ponies that “were all exactly the same as the original My Pretty Pony, which was a palomino, and just shrunk down,” she said in 2015. “The colors came about when my friend, who was Marketing Director … said ‘Bonnie, what do you think of pink and purple?’ And I said, ‘Get out of my office!’ She said, ‘Little girls like pink and purple.’ I said, ‘I don’t care!’ […] I was a preschool toy designer and in preschool really it wasn’t girls or boys […] She said, ‘Well, why not wait to test it.’” Zacherle said OK, and, after testing, the company went with the bright colors.

7. THERE WERE SIX ORIGINAL PONIES.

A G1 Buttercup in the Flatfoot pose. Image courtesy of eBay.

Snuzzle, Butterscotch, Blue Belle, Minty, Blossom, and Cotton Candy were produced in 1982. They were made in what’s now known as the “Flatfoot Pose”—so named because they were the only My Little Ponies to have flat rather than concave feet—with heads facing forward and down. The pose wasn’t used again after that first year.

8. THE TOY ALMOST DIDN’T GET RELEASED.

When My Little Pony made its Toy Fair debut, it didn’t exactly make a splash. “The sales floor said, ‘Pony didn't do enough.’ They couldn't sell it!” Zacherle recalled in 2008. “The director of marketing, whose wife was the one who said that she needed to be small, stuck to his guns and his wife's intuition and did not drop pony from the line—and it was this close.” But when My Little Pony was rolled out to the public, it was “an instant success,” Zacherle said. “She galloped off the shelves, striking a chord with girls throughout the U.S. and abroad.”

9. THERE WERE SEVERAL LINES OF PONIES, WHICH COLLECTORS CALL “GENERATIONS.”

Generation 1—which included several different poses—ran from 1983 to 1992, and while they started with just six characters, Hasbro was constantly expanding the characters and types of ponies available: Soon, there were unicorns and sea ponies, pegasus ponies and flutter ponies, sparkle ponies and glow 'n show ponies (which glowed in the dark), so soft ponies (which were fuzzy) and scented ponies, secret surprise ponies, which had a secret compartment containing a surprise, and Drink ‘n Wet baby ponies, which came with diapers that revealed patterns when the toys wet themselves.

Hasbro’s imprint Kenner, which they had purchased in 1991, produced the G2 ponies, which ran from 1997 to 2003. These ponies—which are skinnier than their predecessors—are not popular with collectors. The ponies released as part of G3 (2003-2009) more closely resembled the G1 ponies. In 2009, the dramatically-redesigned G3.5 ponies debuted; the line was available until 2010. The current generation, G4, was released in 2010 and includes ponies from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic animated series.

Hasbro has released 600 ponies in the United States.

10. RARE PONIES CAN GO FOR A LOT OF MONEY.

According to Collectors Weekly, Hasbro didn’t just release My Little Ponies in stores; they also sent out mail-order ponies. (One, a Rapunzel Pony, went for as much as $800 four years ago.) The company also released its molds to companies all over the world. Summer Hayes, author of several collectors guides, told Collectors Weekly that in 2012, “collectors discovered a whole separate line of Ponies that were produced in Venezuela that we never knew about. Someone found a stash of mint-in-box '80s Venezuelan Ponies, and of course, they went on eBay and sold them to collectors. We don’t know everything. I’m sure we’ll get to a point where there’s no new information, but it seems like every couple of years we find a new country or a new variation.” A Greek version of a G1 pony in a rare pose is currently available on eBay for $750.

11. THE FIRST MY LITTLE PONY TV SPECIAL DEBUTED IN 1984—AND IT WAS CO-PRODUCED BY MARVEL.

Founded in 1978 with Hasbro as its main client, the ad agency Griffin Bacal didn’t just make commercials—it also created an animation studio called Sunbow Productions to produce TV specials, full-length movies, and TV shows based on Hasbro toy lines. Sunbow partnered with the animation arm of Marvel to create cartoons for G.I. Joe, Transformers, and, yes, My Little Pony. The first special, called My Little Pony when it was first released in April 1984, was later rebranded Rescue at Midnight Castle. The second special, Escape from Catrina, aired in March 1985. The success of the specials led to a greenlight for the very first My Little Pony movie.

12. MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE WAS MARVEL’S FIRST DOMESTIC THEATRICAL FILM.

My Little Pony: The Movie, which featured the voice talents of Cloris Leachman, Rhea Perlman, Danny DeVito, Tony Randall, and Madeline Kahn, was released in June 1986. It debuted more than a month before Willard Huyck’s Howard the Duck, making My Little Pony Marvel Studio’s first domestic theatrical film.

But its debut was not exactly auspicious: Critics panned the film—the Los Angeles Times said watching the movie was like “being immersed in cotton candy for an hour and a half: The sticky-sweet cuteness is piled on so thickly that adults leave the theater checking their teeth for new cavities. … [T]he real theme song of 'My Little Pony' is the ring of the cash register, as Hasbro attempts to turn unwitting young viewers into customers. The sugary cuteness of the Little Ponies masks a corporate greed as cold and sharp as a razor blade”—and it grossed just $5,958,456 at the box office domestically.

13. MY LITTLE PONY 'N FRIENDS, THE TOY LINE’S FIRST TV SERIES, DEBUTED IN 1986.

The show, which premiered in September 1986, ran for two seasons. Each half-hour episode featured one segment of Pony tales and one segment of “Friends”—i.e., other Hasbro toys. The Glo Friends featured Glo Worms; MoonDreamers featured a line of dolls of the same name; and Potato Head Kids was about, you guessed it, Mr. Potato Head's family. Breckin Meyer voiced one of the characters.

It wasn’t MLP’s only show—My Little Pony Tales, which followed the very teenage-girl-like adventures of the ponies Starlight, Sweetheart, Melody, Bright Eyes, Patch, Clover, and Bon Bon, debuted in 1992. It aired for one season and then in syndication. There were also a number of direct-to-DVD MLP specials released from 2003 to 2009.

14. MICHAEL BAY’S TRANSFORMERS MOVIES DIRECTLY LED TO MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC.

The first live-action Transformers movie, which was released in July 2007, made a boatload of money for Hasbro. Later that year, the Los Angeles Times reported that the company “wants to turn more of its line of toys into concepts for movies … after this summer's blockbuster Transformers generated $702 million in worldwide ticket sales, making it one of the most successful toy-based movies in history.” The company hired Lisa Licht, formerly of 20th Century Fox, to be General Manager of Entertainment and Licensing and, in May 2008, reacquired the rights to its Sunbow-produced shows (which belonged to TV-Loonland). Global License reported in June 2008 that “Hasbro is working on a new entertainment component for 2009” for the My Little Pony franchise. This was likely Friendship is Magic.

15. FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC CREATOR LAUREN FAUST APPROACHED HASBRO ABOUT MAKING A LINE OF DOLLS.

In 2008, Lauren Faust—then known for The Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends—approached Hasbro with an idea for a line of dolls called Galaxy Girls. “I met with Hasbro Studios’ Lisa Licht to pitch one of my original concepts to her as a potential animated series, a show based on my ‘Galaxy Girls’ characters,” Faust told Animation World Network in 2011. (“I actually never wanted it to be a show,” Faust later said in a 4chan Q&A, “but the folks who make toys want shows before the[y] invest.”) After Faust told Licht about her background and showed her some drawings, Licht did something Faust didn’t expect: She pulled out a My Little Pony: The Princess Promenade DVD. “[She] asked me if I liked My Little Pony, which happened to be my absolutely favorite toy of my childhood,” Faust said. “From what I understand it was completely on the fly—it had just occurred to her at that moment from seeing my Galaxy Girls material that I might be a good fit for My Little Pony. She asked me to look at some DVDs and see if I could come up with some ideas where to take a new version of the franchise.”

Faust had loved the toys, but not the shows, as a child. She agreed to conceptualize a My Little Pony show, even though she was skeptical. “Shows based on girls’ toys always left a bad taste in my mouth, even when I was a child,” she wrote on Ms. in 2010. “They did not reflect the way I played with my toys. I assigned my ponies and my Strawberry Shortcake dolls distinctive personalities and sent them on epic adventures to save the world. On TV, though, I couldn’t tell one girl character from another and they just had endless tea parties, giggled over nothing and defeated villains by either sharing with them or crying—which miraculously inspired the villain to turn nice. Even to my 7-year-old self, these shows made no sense and couldn’t keep my interest.”

Instead, Faust wanted her ponies to be three-dimensional characters that experienced more action and adventure than typically seen on shows for girls.

16. FAUST CREATED A “PITCH BIBLE” TO SHOW PROOF OF CONCEPT.

To bring her concept to life, Faust quickly got to work on what would become a more than 40-page-long pitch bible. She hired artists to create backgrounds and help to develop the look of the characters and world and did all of the writing herself. After she presented the initial version of the pitch bible—which included character designs and descriptions, as well as locations and world dynamics—Hasbro hired the production studio Studio B, which placed Jayson Thiessen as supervising director. They made a two-minute short, and Friendship of Magic was greenlit to series.

After that, Faust told Equestria Daily, “I was able to hand-pick my writing team (with Hasbro and Hub’s approval), most of whom I'd worked with on Powerpuff or Foster’s. The rest of the artistic team was put together by Studio B and Jayson Thiessen. ... Voice actors and composers were all auditioned, Jayson and I endorsed our picks and Hasbro and the Hub made the final calls. There were only a couple picks we disagreed on, but obviously, it all worked out great.”

17. HER PONIES WERE INSPIRED BY GENERATION 1 TOYS—AND THE CHARACTERS SHE CREATED AS A CHILD.

When it came time to create her ponies, Faust looked to the past: Specifically, to the G1 ponies she’d loved playing with as a child. Rainbow Dash was based on Firefly; Glory and Sparkler inspired Rarity; Posey inspired Fluttershy; a Pegasus pony inspired Pinkie Pie; Ember inspired Apple Bloom; Majesty inspired Celestia; and Twilight inspired Friendship Is Magic’s Twilight Sparkle. Faust imbued her ponies with the personalities she’d given them as a child, too: “I had played with the toys for most of my childhood, and I literally referenced the characterizations and stories I made up for myself when I was little,” she told Equestria Daily. “The characters you see in the show were based entirely on the personalities I gave certain toys ... I used to say that my own inner 8-year-old was my personal focus group.” Each of the Mane 6 ponies is imbued with a different characteristic: According to New York magazine, “Applejack represents honesty; Rarity, generosity; Fluttershy, kindness; Rainbow Dash, loyalty; and Pinkie Pie, laughter. Twilight herself possesses the magic that binds them together. In Equestria, this friendship is a superpower; it safeguards the world. And it is a superpower wielded entirely by females.”

18. HASBRO HAD PLENTY OF SAY IN ELEMENTS ON THE SHOW THAT COULD BECOME TOYS.

Though Faust had a lot of creative control, the team behind Friendship is Magic had to work closely with Hasbro on elements that had the potential to be toys. “Hasbro’s input came mostly when a location had potential to be a playset,” Faust told Equestria Daily. “Rarity’s Carousel Boutique was revised a few times. There were also times when they were working on a toy they wanted to have featured in the show. The hot air balloon was introduced this way. Often they’d ask for a location beforehand, like a schoolhouse, so we could design it first. They were pretty great about letting us decide how to use these locations in context of the story so it didn’t just seem to come out of nowhere.”

“It has been a challenge to balance my personal ideals with my bosses’ needs for toy sales and good ratings,” Faust wrote on Ms. “I do my best to incorporate their needs in an acceptable way, so when we are asked to portray a certain toy or playset, my team and I work to put it in a place that makes sense within the story. There is also a need to incorporate fashion play into the show, but only one character is interested in it and she is not a trend follower but a designer who sells her own creations from her own store. We portray her not as a shopaholic but as an artist.”

Faust served as the Executive Producer for the first season, but by the second season she had become a consulting producer and had left before the third season premiered. Though neither Faust nor Hasbro commented on her departure, Longreads noted that it may have had a little something to do with the spin-off show Equestria Girls, “which turned the adventurers of My Little Pony into ultra-skinny, status-obsessed high-school girls who are one thousand percent about combing hair and changing clothes. In order to effect this transformation, the ponies leap through a mirror into an alternate universe.” In 2014, Faust told New York magazine, “It's very painful for me. I poured my heart and soul into My Little Pony. I left the show, but I kind of feel like it was taken away from me.” After Faust became consulting producer, Thiessen took over as showrunner.

19. NO ONE EXPECTED THE BRONIES.

Friendship is Magic was a success from the moment it debuted, pulling in 325,000 viewers on average, according to Variety. But it wasn’t just popular with the 6- to 11-year-old girls it was intended for: It’s also attracted a significant following among adult men who call themselves “Bronies” who really, truly, earnestly love the show and its characters. (According to most sources, “brony” is a portmanteau of “bro” and “pony,” but some dispute that; some adult female fans of the show, meanwhile, call themselves “Pegasisters.”) And no one expected that. “It was weird,” Ashleigh Ball, who voices Applejack and Rainbow Dash, told The Daily Beast. “Because it wasn’t the intention of the series. It wasn’t for adult men. It was for little girls. But everyone involved in the series, from Hasbro to the studio, everyone, has really learned to embrace it.”

“This might be a little short-sighted on my part, but I just assumed that any adult man who didn’t have a little girl wouldn’t even give it a try,” Faust told WIRED. “The fact that they did and that they were open-minded and cool enough and secure in their masculinity enough to embrace it and love it and go online and talk about how much they love it—I’m kind of proud.”

Even celebs are fans of the ponies: Weird Al Yankovic made a cameo as a pony named Cheese Sandwich in a 2014 episode, and Andrew W.K. is a confessed Brony (he identifies with Pinkie Pie).

20. A NEW MY LITTLE PONY MOVIE IS COMING THIS YEAR.

Based on Friendship is Magic, the movie will feature the “Mane 6” characters and the people who voice them—Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, and Ashleigh Ball—as well as a number of celebrities lending their voices to new characters. Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth, Taye Diggs, Uzo Aduba, Sia, Liev Schreiber, Michael Peña, and Zoe Saldana have all signed on to voice characters. The movie will be released in October.

This article originally ran in 2016.

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A.C. Gilbert, the Toymaker Who (Actually) Saved Christmas 
Travel Salem via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Travel Salem via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Alfred Carlton Gilbert was told he had 15 minutes to convince the United States government not to cancel Christmas.

For hours, he paced the outer hall, awaiting his turn before the Council of National Defense. With him were the tools of his trade: toy submarines, air rifles, and colorful picture books. As government personnel walked by, Gilbert, bashful about his cache of kid things, tried hiding them behind a leather satchel.

Finally, his name was called. It was 1918, the U.S. was embroiled in World War I, and the Council had made an open issue about their deliberation over whether to halt all production of toys indefinitely, turning factories into ammunition centers and even discouraging giving or receiving gifts that holiday season. Instead of toys, they argued, citizens should be spending money on war bonds. Playthings had become inconsequential.

Frantic toymakers persuaded Gilbert, founder of the A.C. Gilbert Company and creator of the popular Erector construction sets, to speak on their behalf. Toys in hand, he faced his own personal firing squad of military generals, policy advisors, and the Secretary of War.

Gilbert held up an air rifle and began to talk. What he’d say next would determine the fate of the entire toy industry.

Even if he had never had to testify on behalf of Christmas toys, A.C. Gilbert would still be remembered for living a remarkable life. Born in Oregon in 1884, Gilbert excelled at athletics, once holding the world record for consecutive chin-ups (39) and earning an Olympic gold medal in the pole vault during the 1908 Games. In 1909, he graduated from Yale School of Medicine with designs on remaining in sports as a health advisor.

But medicine wasn’t where Gilbert found his passion. A lifelong performer of magic, he set his sights on opening a business selling illusionist kits. The Mysto Manufacturing Company didn’t last long, but it proved to Gilbert that he had what it took to own and operate a small shingle. In 1916, three years after introducing the Erector sets, he renamed Mysto the A.C. Gilbert Company.

Erector was a big hit in the burgeoning American toy market, which had typically been fueled by imported toys from Germany. Kids could take the steel beams and make scaffolding, bridges, and other small-development projects. With the toy flying off shelves, Gilbert’s factory in New Haven, Connecticut grew so prosperous that he could afford to offer his employees benefits that were uncommon at the time, like maternity leave and partial medical insurance.

Gilbert’s reputation for being fair and level-headed led the growing toy industry to elect him their president for the newly created Toy Manufacturers of America, an assignment he readily accepted. But almost immediately, his position became something other than ceremonial: His peers began to grow concerned about the country’s involvement in the war and the growing belief that toys were a dispensable effort.

President Woodrow Wilson had appointed a Council of National Defense to debate these kinds of matters. The men were so preoccupied with the consequences of the U.S. marching into a European conflict that something as trivial as a pull-string toy or chemistry set seemed almost insulting to contemplate. Several toy companies agreed to convert to munitions factories, as did Gilbert. But when the Council began discussing a blanket prohibition on toymaking and even gift-giving, Gilbert was given an opportunity to defend his industry.

Before Gilbert was allowed into the Council’s chambers, a Naval guard inspected each toy for any sign of sabotage. Satisfied, he allowed Gilbert in. Among the officials sitting opposite him were Secretary of War Newton Baker and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

“The greatest influences in the life of a boy are his toys,” Gilbert said. “Yet through the toys American manufacturers are turning out, he gets both fun and an education. The American boy is a genuine boy and wants genuine toys."

He drew an air rifle, showing the committee members how a child wielding less-than-lethal weapons could make for a better marksman when he was old enough to become a soldier. He insisted construction toys—like the A.C. Gilbert Erector Set—fostered creative thinking. He told the men that toys provided a valuable escape from the horror stories coming out of combat.

Armed with play objects, a boy’s life could be directed toward “construction, not destruction,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert then laid out his toys for the board to examine. Secretary Daniels grew absorbed with a toy submarine, marveling at the detail and asking Gilbert if it could be bought anywhere in the country. Other officials examined children’s books; one began pushing a train around the table.

The word didn’t come immediately, but the expressions on the faces of the officials told the story: Gilbert had won them over. There would be no toy or gift embargo that year.

Naturally, Gilbert still devoted his work floors to the production efforts for both the first and second world wars. By the 1950s, the A.C. Gilbert Company was dominating the toy business with products that demanded kids be engaged and attentive. Notoriously, he issued a U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, which came complete with four types of uranium ore. “Completely safe and harmless!” the box promised. A Geiger counter was included. At $50 each, Gilbert lost money on it, though his decision to produce it would earn him a certain infamy in toy circles.

“It was not suitable for the same age groups as our simpler chemistry and microscope sets, for instance,” he once said, “and you could not manufacture such a thing as a beginner’s atomic energy lab.”

Gilbert’s company reached an astounding $20 million in sales in 1953. By the mid-1960s, just a few years after Gilbert's death in 1961, it was gone, driven out of business by the apathy of new investors. No one, it seemed, had quite the same passion for play as Gilbert, who had spent over half a century providing fun and educational fare that kids were ecstatic to see under their trees.

When news of the Council’s 1918 decision reached the media, The Boston Globe's front page copy summed up Gilbert’s contribution perfectly: “The Man Who Saved Christmas.”

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15 Surprising Facts About Scarface
Universal Home Video
Universal Home Video

Say hello to our little list. Here are a few facts to break out at your next screening of Scarface, Brian De Palma’s gangsters-and-cocaine classic, which arrived in theaters on this day in 1983.

1. IT WASN'T THE FIRST SCARFACE.

Brian De Palma's Scarface is a loose remake of the 1932 movie of the same name, which is also about the rise and fall of an American immigrant gangster. The producer of the 1983 version, Martin Bregman, saw the original on late night TV and thought the idea could be modernized—though it still pays respect to the original film. De Palma's flick is dedicated to the original film’s director, Howard Hawks, and screenwriter, Ben Hecht.

2. IT COULD HAVE BEEN A SIDNEY LUMET FILM.

At one point in the film's production, Sidney Lumet—the socially conscious director of such classics as Dog Day Afternoon and 12 Angry Men—was brought on as its director. "Sidney Lumet came up with the idea of what's happening today in Miami, and it inspired Bregman," Pacino told Empire Magazine. "He and Oliver Stone got together and produced a script that had a lot of energy and was very well written. Oliver Stone was writing about stuff that was touching on things that were going on in the world, he was in touch with that energy and that rage and that underbelly."

3. OLIVER STONE WASN'T INTERESTED IN WRITING THE SCRIPT, UNTIL LUMET GOT INVOLVED.


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Producer Bregman offered relative newcomer Oliver Stone a chance to overhaul the screenplay, but Stone—who was still reeling from the box office disappointment of his film, The Hand—wasn't interested. "I didn’t like the original movie that much," Stone told Creative Screenwriting. "It didn’t really hit me at all and I had no desire to make another Italian gangster picture because so many had been done so well, there would be no point to it. The origin of it, according to Marty Bregman, [was that] Al had seen the '30s version on television, he loved it and expressed to Marty as his long time mentor/partner that he’d like to do a role like that. So Marty presented it to me and I had no interest in doing a period piece."

But when Bregman contacted Stone again about the project later, his opinion changed. "Sidney Lumet had stepped into the deal," Stone said. "Sidney had a great idea to take the 1930s American prohibition gangster movie and make it into a modern immigrant gangster movie dealing with the same problems that we had then, that we’re prohibiting drugs instead of alcohol. There’s a prohibition against drugs that’s created the same criminal class as (prohibition of alcohol) created the Mafia. It was a remarkable idea."

4. UNFORTUNATELY, ACCORDING TO STONE, LUMET HATED HIS SCRIPT.

While the chance to work with Lumet was part of what lured Stone to the project, it was his script that ultimately led to the director's departure from the film. According to Stone: "Sidney Lumet hated my script. I don’t know if he’d say that in public himself, I sound like a petulant screenwriter saying that, I’d rather not say that word. Let me say that Sidney did not understand my script, whereas Bregman wanted to continue in that direction with Al."

5. STONE HAD FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE WITH THE SUBJECT MATTER.

In order to create the most accurate picture possible, Stone spent time in Florida and the Caribbean interviewing people on both sides of the law for research. "It got hairy," Stone admitted of the research process. "It gave me all this color. I wanted to do a sun-drenched, tropical Third World gangster, cigar, sexy Miami movie."

Unfortunately, while penning the screenplay, Stone was also dealing with his own cocaine habit, which gave him an insight into what the drug can do to users. Stone actually tried to kick his habit by leaving the country to complete the script so he could be far away from his access to the drug.

"I moved to Paris and got out of the cocaine world too because that was another problem for me," he said. "I was doing coke at the time, and I really regretted it. I got into a habit of it and I was an addictive personality. I did it, not to an extreme or to a place where I was as destructive as some people, but certainly to where I was going stale mentally. I moved out of L.A. with my wife at the time and moved back to France to try and get into another world and see the world differently. And I wrote the script totally f***ing cold sober."

6. BRIAN DE PALMA DIDN'T WANT TO AUDITION MICHELLE PFEIFFER.


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De Palma was hesitant to audition the relatively untested Pfeiffer because at the time she was best known for the box office bomb Grease 2. Glenn Close, Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher, Kelly McGillis, Sharon Stone and Sigourney Weaver were all considered for the role of Elvira, but Bregman pushed for Pfeiffer to audition and she got the part.

7. YES, THERE IS A LOT OF SWEARING.

According to the Family Media Guide, which monitors profanity, sexual content, and violence in movies, Scarface features 207 uses of the “F” word, which works out to about 1.21 F-bombs per minute. In 2014, Martin Scorsese more than doubled that with a record-setting 506 F-bombs thrown in The Wolf of Wall Street.

8. TONY MONTANA WAS NAMED FOR A FOOTBALL STAR.

Stone, who was a San Francisco 49ers fan, named the character of Tony Montana after Joe Montana, his favorite football player.

9. TONY IS ONLY REFERRED TO AS "SCARFACE" ONCE, AND IT'S IN SPANISH.

Hector, the Colombian gangster who threatens Tony with the chainsaw, refers to Tony as “cara cicatriz,” meaning “scar face” in Spanish.

That chainsaw scene, by the way, was based on a real incident. To research the movie, Stone embedded himself with Miami law enforcement and based the infamous chainsaw sequence on a gangland story he heard from the Miami-Dade County police.

10. VERY LITTLE OF THE FILM WAS ACTUALLY SHOT IN MIAMI.

The film was originally going to be shot entirely on location in Miami, but protests by the local Cuban-American community forced the movie to leave Miami two weeks into production. Besides footage from those two weeks, the rest of the movie was shot in Los Angeles, New York, and Santa Barbara.

11. ALL THAT "COCAINE" LED TO PROBLEMS WITH PACINO'S NASAL PASSAGES.

Though there has long been a myth that Pacino snorted real cocaine on camera for Scarface, the "cocaine" used in the movie was supposedly powdered milk (even if De Palma has never officially stated what the crew used as a drug stand-in). But just because it wasn't real doesn't mean that it didn't create problems for Pacino's nasal passages. "For years after, I have had things up in there," Pacino said in 2015. "I don't know what happened to my nose, but it's changed."

12. PACINO'S NOSE WASN'T HIS ONLY BODY PART TO SUFFER DAMAGE.

Still of Al Pacino as Tony Montana in 'Scarface' (1983)
Universal Home Video

In the film's very bloody conclusion, Montana famously asks the assailants who've invaded his home to "say hello to my little friend," which happens to be a very large gun. That gun took a beating from all the blanks it had to fire, so much so that Pacino ended up burning his hand on its barrel. "My hand stuck to that sucker," he said. Ultimately, the actor—and his bandaged hands—had to sit out some of the action in the last few weeks of production.

13. STEVEN SPIELBERG DIRECTED A SINGLE SHOT.

De Palma and Spielberg had been friends since the two began making studio movies in the mid-1970s, and they made a habit of visiting each other’s sets. Spielberg was on hand for one of the days of shooting the Colombians’ initial attack on Tony Montana’s house at the end of the movie, so De Palma let Spielberg direct the low-angle shot where the attackers first enter the house.

14. SOME COOL TECHNOLOGY WENT INTO THE GUN MUZZLE FLASHES.

In order to heighten the severity of the gunfire, De Palma and the special effects coordinators created a mechanism to synchronize the gunfire with the open shutter on the movie camera to show the huge muzzle flash coming from the guns in the final shootout.

15. SADDAM HUSSEIN WAS A FAN OF THE FILM.

The trust fund the former Iraqi dictator set up to launder money was called “Montana Management,” a nod to the company Tony uses to launder money in the movie.

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