Steven Bauer went from unknown to sex symbol 25 years ago with his role as Manolo Ribera, the right-hand man to Al Pacino's Tony Montana, in Scarface. Latina.com spoke with the Cuban actor, now 52, about the craziest fan he’s ever met, why he’s still happily single, and more.
We can’t even imagine Scarface without you. Can you?
No. Pacino and I fit together, and that was no accident. But when I was auditioning for the role, people told me I was deluding myself. There were a lot of politics going on in Hollywood at the time, and there were stars involved, like Richard Gere and John Travolta…even Erik Estrada.
Does Manny Ribera still have fans?
Yes. People can't forget Manny, because he's the perfect counterpart to Tony Montana. When they see me in real life, it's like I'm this apparition. When a bellman helps me with my bags, they go, "You're Manny Ribera." I love it. It's very touching. I even tell the fans to go ahead and get their cameras.
Have you ever had a bad experience with a fan?
Most people I meet are totally normal, but I have met some crazies. This guy bought me a drink at a bar once and I misjudged his psychology. He started calling me and saying, "Manny, Manny, my sister wants to say hi," and "Manny, Manny, I'm here at so and so."
Do you think that scene in Scarface where Tony's mother throws him out of the house is realistic? Most Latin mothers would think twice before doing that to their son...
It is kind of believable. When I lost my head for a moment and had substance abuse and relationship problems, my mom found the strength to say, "I'm not going to talk to you anymore. I'm not going to watch you die." That’s what that mom in Scarface represents—a mom telling her son, "You’re an asshole and a monster, and everything you touch, you destroy." On the other hand, I have a Puerto Rican friend who broke up with his wife and his mom still feeds him…but even though she has 2 extra bedrooms, she won’t let him move in with her.
What did it feel like to become an overnight sex symbol?
I was a wallflower back then…my confidence wasn't that great. When I got chosen for Manny, they told me he had to be the ultimate ladies man and I thought, "Oh sh**." Once the movie came out, though, girls started to be like, "I want that guy," and I became more confident! But here's the Catch-22: I was already attached. I happened to be unwisely married to a very popular girl at the time: Melanie Griffith. Melanie and I were married and dying in New York at the time. I thought,"This movie is going to get me all of the chicks, but I can't do sh**." That's the reason I'm single now—I'm not making that same mistake again.