|First appearance||Scarface (1983)|
|Created by||Oliver Stone|
|Portrayed by||Michelle Pfeiffer|
|Full name||Elvira Hancock|
Frank Lopez (ex-boyfriend)|
Tony Montana (husband)
Frank Lopez (formerly)|
Tony Montana (formerly)
Manny Ribera (formerly)
Elvira Hancock is a fictional character in the 1983 American mob film Scarface, portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer. This proved to be her breakthrough role. She is the mistress of Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia) and after his death, becomes the wife of Tony Montana (Al Pacino).
Before Pfeiffer was cast as Hancock, Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher and Sharon Stone unsuccessfully auditioned for the part, and actresses Rosanna Arquette, Melanie Griffith and Kim Basinger turned it down. Kelly McGillis and Sigourney Weaver were also considered. Initially, Pacino did not want Pfeiffer to play Hancock, instead he wanted Glenn Close to play the role. Pfeiffer's agent called the film's producer Martin Bregman and requested him to pay for her transportation from Los Angeles to New York City. Bregman refused and Pfeiffer reached the audition theater on the West Side of Manhattan by her own means. Bregman said in a later interview that, after the audition he was sure that she would get Hancock's part. Pfeiffer said she spent much of the shoot hungry, as she had lost a significant amount of weight to play the role of a coke addict and "couldn't eat" lest she gain it back.
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Elvira Hancock was born in Baltimore, Maryland. As a child, she attended a leadership school for girls. Her father and mother separated when she was 9 years old. She is an only child, and her mother worked two jobs to make ends meet, working as a telephone operator and a waitress. Elvira graduated school with honors, and briefly attended Johns Hopkins University. There, she studied psychology and social work while also working at a local deli. At the age of 20, her mother fell ill and died, leaving Elvira in a state of depression. After burying her mother at Green Mount Cemetery, she decided to leave Baltimore for good.
After leaving Baltimore, she headed to Miami in search of her biological father. She took work as a waitress in a club called the Babylon, where she met drug lord Frank Lopez. Soon after, Frank offered her a job as a secretary for Lopez Motors.
There, she and Frank fell in love; the two eventually got married. Somewhere along the way, Elvira became heavily addicted to cocaine. Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee who finds work with Lopez, takes an immediate liking to Elvira, and attempts to win her over. Time and time again, Elvira denies Tony, but eventually, after seeing the mass amount of power being gathered by him, bends a little bit. Later, Tony asks Elvira to marry him, and, despite clearly wanting to, refuses, as Lopez is still in the way. Tony takes care of Lopez, and the two are married soon after.
As Tony consolodates more power, and purchases more opulent things for Elvira, she becomes visibly more and more detached from reality. Her addiction to cocaine is taking over life at this point. She and Tony do not share a good relationship, with Elvira always complaining that Tony is too focused on money; Tony does not take kindly to this. Along the way, Tony discovers that Elvira is infertile, permanently souring their marriage.
While at dinner, Tony is extremely intoxicated because of stress, and notices Elvira has not touched her plate. He then notices her snorting cocaine, to which he is also addicted. He asks why Elvira has not touched her food, to which she replies that she has lost her appetite. This sparks a massive public fight between the two, with Tony berating her for her intense drug usage, her depression, which he perceives as laziness, and her infertility. Elvira responds by throwing her glass at Tony, screaming at him, and attempting to physcially charge at him. Elvira collects herself, and tells Tony she is leaving him. She leaves, and is never seen by Tony again.
Reception and legacy
Critic Roger Ebert wrote, "that [Montana] must have [Hancock] is clear, but what he intends to do with her is not; there is no romance between them, no joy [...] she's along for the drugs". Vincent Canby felt that for her role, "[Pfeiffer] would not be easily forgotten". Susan C. Boyd labels her as "the token cultural symbol of Western male capitalist success".
In his review of Scarface for Texas Monthly, James Wolcott likens her to the "white-satin molls" portrayed by actress Jean Harlow. Pointing towards the lack of romance between Montana and Hancock, he notes that both are "travelling along parallel lines of toot". Sherrie A. Inness compares her to Poppy in the 1932 Scarface and points out that though Montana and Hancock get married, this "hardly uplifts her character". She terms her an "embittered drug addict with the self-esteem of an empty bullet casing" and a "complainer".
The character is noted particularly for her costumes, created by Patricia Norris. In 2006, Gwen Stefani adopted a look inspired by Hancock. AskMen has ranked her 3rd in its Top 10 Outlaw Girlfriends list.
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