Benicio del Toro is no stranger to iconic roles -- even less to those involving drug cartels -- and now, Variety reports, the Puerto Rican actor is in final negotiations to play the most infamous cocaine kingpin of all time: Pablo Escobar.
"[Del Toro is] one of the rare actors with enough charisma and range to play such a multi-faceted character as Escobar, who could be wonderfully charming yet dangerous and menacing," Dimitri Rassam, who will be producing “Paradise Lost”, told Variety.
In 2008, del Toro incarnated Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Steven Soderbergh’s “Che.” Controversy surrounding the film’s portrayal of the historical figure and the Bolivian and Cuban revolutions followed the film’s debut, at one point causing del Toro to storm out of an interview with The Washington Times.
Rassam, however, clarified that the film will not be a biopic of Escobar. Instead, the romance thriller’s plot will revolve around a young surfer, Nick, who falls in love with Escobar’s niece, Maria, while visiting his brother in Colombia.
In March, the movie will begin filming in Panama with a script written by Italian actor Andrea di Stefano ("Life of Pi"), who will also be making his directorial debut with “Paradise Lost.”
For over two decades, Escobar led the infamous Cartel de Medellín which terrorized Colombia for more than two decades until he was killed by Colombian soldiers in 1993. His successful production and distribution of cocaine resulted in an estimated 9 billion dollar fortune that cost more than 4,000 individuals their lives.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that del Toro had stormed out of an interview with the The Washington Post. In fact, the star reportedly stormed out of an interview with The Washington Times.