In recent years they have been trying to attempt to bring Pablo Escobar to the big screen, Antoine Fuqua, Joe Carnahan have all tried to tell the story of the wealthy Colombian drug lord and elusive cocaine trafficker but they fell through. Sure there have been documentaries on Escobar but never a biopic.
The notorious drug kingpin has been played by Cliff Curtis (Non-Latino, he’s from New Zealand) in “Blow,” which starred Johnny Depp but the film centered on Depp’s character George Jung, the man who established the American cocaine market in the 1970s.
The same thing will be seen soon in Andrea Di Stefano’s debut feature “Paradise Lost.” The film is not exactly an Escobar biopic, its more a romantic thriller, which centers on a young couple (Josh Hutcherson and Claudia Traisac) who fall madly in love with each other until he meets her uncle, one Pablo Escobar played by Benicio del Toro. The film is reportedly inspired by true events and you can probably expect Escobar to play a big role in the film but he’s not the protagonist.
Rewind a few years ago, Joe Carnahan wanted to bring “Killing Pablo” based on Mark Bowden book. That project focused on the joint efforts of U.S. and Columbian military to hunt down Escobar. Javier Bardem was initially attached to the role but then Edgar Ramirez was on top of the list. But some reason or another the project died and nothing ever happened.
Then another Pablo Escobar-focused film was in the works but this biopic is being directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) titled "Escobar." Oliver Stone was producing the film based off of "Mi Hermano Pablo" ("My Brother Pablo"), a book written by Roberto Escobar Gaviria, who served as his brother's accountant and confidant. We sat down 1-1- with Fuqua back in March and gave us an update on the project:
"I’m trying to get that script right and I heard Benicio Del Toro may be doing one. It’s one of those things I want to make so bad man. I know so much about Pablo Escobar, I spent too much time in Colombia and went to his house and met the nurse maid. I met with the county cartel; I met with the Ochoa’s. It’s such an amazing rich story that I don’t want to do the exploitation version. I have a script that’s amazing but it’s thick. I’m waiting because I need to tighten the script and I got to get the money for it. Unfortunately it’s something where I need money and it’s a Latino star."
As for who Fuqua still wants to play Escobar:
"Well unfortunately Benicio is already attached to one but Javier Bardem would be a monster, I would be like oh my God, I really hope so."
I spoke to Javier Bardem myself back in November and asked him about ever playing Escobar in which he said:
"Well, Pablo Escobar, for sure, is an amazing figure of many, many, many things involved in that personality, as far as I know, as far as I read. I read many, many books about it, and of course a very strong figure that is very powerful to create in fiction, to create not a biopic, but a movie around him. But again, if a project comes to me powerful on that and makes sense, because most of it…it always has to make some meaning, in the sense that things cannot be done just because. Most of the Pablo Escobar that I received didn’t make sense. For better or worse, they were like isolated in their own thing. It’s like, ‘No. Pablo Escobar is a very complicated character.’ He’s not only one piece of a character, I think."
Just a few months ago it was reported that director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer) would direct a Pablo Escobar biopic titled “The Ballad of Pablo Escobar” starring Oscar Isaac (Drive, Inside Llewyn Davis), from a script by Black List writer Matt Aldrich. The film already has distribution through Relativity Media and is being produced by Scott Pictures’ Scott Steindorff along with Film 360's Scott Lambert and they are already planning to start filming in Colombia in September. Roberto Escobar is a consultant on the project.
We have now exclusively learned that Isaac is no longer involved and has dropped out the project and that Brazilian superstar Wagner Moura (Elysium, Elite Squad) was up for the role and is in talks to take over.
I spoke to Moura’s reps and they have confirmed that Isaac indeed is no longer involved and that Moura was in talks to play Escobar but now he is not and that he was not going to pursue the role. But the reps did say there is one actor who is pursuing the role heavily and has worked with Furman before. That actor is John Leguizamo.
Leguizamo has even done screen tests and put them on vine and twitter.
Check out the links below.
Whether he got the role is still up in the air. I think he kind of has an edge on it since he is part Colombian and probably knows all the history of Escobar. But the producers of the project better get someone quick if they plan to start filming in September. Maybe Furman will talk about the project when he hits the promo rounds for “Runner, Runner.”
Part 1 b test https://t.co/axBwfXt4CQ
— John Leguizamo (@JohnLeguizamo) July 3, 2013
Screen test for Escobar part 1 https://t.co/91JIIVa3Z1
— John Leguizamo (@JohnLeguizamo) July 4, 2013
— John Leguizamo (@JohnLeguizamo) July 16, 2013
Lastly I would also like to know what ever happened to Enrique Urbizu’s Pablo Escobar flim.