The actress was appearing on a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival with Steven Bauer, Al Pacino and Brian De Palma, when interviewer Jesse Kornbluth posed the question.
Footage posted online shows Kornbluth saying: “As the father of a daughter, I’m concerned about body image… The preparation for this film — what did you weigh?”
Members of the audience can then be heard groaning, to which Jesse says: “No no no, this is not the question you think it is.”
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
In response, Michelle replies: “Well, OK. I don’t know, But I was playing a cocaine addict. That was part of the physicality of the part which you have to consider.”
After the panel, many fans branded Kornbluth’s line of questioning as sexist, while praising Michelle for her handling of it:
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
REALLY?!? “What did you weigh?”— Miss Representation (@RepresentPledge) April 21, 2018
Michelle Pfeiffer has received three Academy Award nominations and she was asked about her weight?This question was sexist. Period. #AskHerMore#Tribeca2018https://t.co/DuJX9jc3gU
al snorted so much fake cocaine on scarface that it permanently fucked up his sinuses but you ask michelle pfeiffer about her weight and pretend like it isn't a sexist question— hayden (@pacinoed) April 20, 2018
Gonna send this picture of Michelle Pfeiffer whenever anyone asks me a dumb, sexist question. pic.twitter.com/32bhDblbzj— Brittany Sandler (@besandler) April 20, 2018
Michelle Pfeiffer Endures Bizarre Questions at Scarface Anniversary Event https://t.co/ruNnVsnvTs that moderator was TRASH. Asking how much she weighed? I was in the 2nd row and Michelle's face said it all. Al Pacino also played a coke addict + he didn't get asked that question— Chao Li (@cli6cli6) April 20, 2018
Michelle’s answer continued: “You know, the movie was only supposed to be a three- or four-month shoot. I tried to time it so that as the movie went on, I became thinner and thinner, and more emaciated. The problem is, it ended up going six months.
“The one scene, the end of the film, where I was thinnest, it was always next week, then next week.
“I literally had members of the crew bringing me bagels because they were worried about how thin I was getting. I was living on tomato soup and Marlboros.”
When contacted by BuzzFeed News, Kornbluth said: “Nobody booed when I asked Michelle about playing that familiar female character — what she has described as ‘the set piece’ — and how she was able to, as she has described, ‘own and claim’ her performance against one of Al’s fiercest performances.”