It's common practice for actors to go to extreme lengths immersing themselves in a character after getting the part. But John Leguizamo became entrenched before he'd even received the role of Pablo Escobar in the long-gestating biopic "The King of Cocaine."
The newly cast actor reportedly spent $15,000 of his own money to purchase a fat suit and prosthetic makeup to ready himself to portray the Colombian drug kingpin, Deadline.com reports. Leguizamo was turned down for the role more than once before submitting the transformative screen test, so it looks like his methods proved successful. "Inside Llewyn Davis" star Oscar Isaac was first cast as Escobar before dropping out. (Benicio Del Toro will play the mastermind in "Paradise Lost," which centers on Escobar's niece.)
But Leguizamo's passion for the role shone through. Director Brad Furman, who previously worked with Leguizamo on 2008's "The Take," fought for Relativity Media execs to give the actor the role. The two filmed a screen test that featured Leguizamo in full Escobar garb with a split screen pitting the actor next to his real-life counterpart. Deadline.com reports that the reel convinced Relativity to cast the 49-year-old actor because he was a "dead ringer" for the drug lord.
Leguizamo's age also makes him a strong candidate for the role. Escobar was killed in 1993, at 44, after authorities located his Colombian hiding spot.
"The King of Cocaine" does not yet have a targeted release date. In the meantime, Furman's "Runner, Runner," starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, hits theaters Sept. 27. Leguizamo will next star in Ridley Scott's Oscar contender "The Counselor."