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There may be no man on Earth whose acting career has been as boosted by drugs as Benicio Del Toro. (Okay, maybe Cheech and Chong.) The Puerto Rican performer often cast in crime dramas made his mark as Dr. Gonzo in 1998's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He won his first Academy Award in 2001 for Steven Soderbergh's drug war-centered drama Traffic. His second Oscar nomination came two years later playing a recovering junkie in Alejandro González Iñárritu's 21 Grams. And just last year he was one of the few bright spots in the garish Oliver Stone thriller Savages as a face-licking maniac employed by a merciless Mexican drug cartel. So, really, who better to play the wildly wealthy and deadly dangerous Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar?
Above is the first look at Del Toro in character for Paradise Lost, courtesy of Bleeding Cool. This marks the directorial debut of Italian actor Andrea Di Stefano, who also penned the screenplay. Said to be inspired by true events, Paradise Lost sounds like it will show an unexpected side to the criminal known for narco-terrorism—attacks aimed to decimate anti-narcotics police forces. Rather than focusing on Escobar's life story, Paradise Lost centers on a young surfer played by The Hunger Games's Josh Hutcherson, who falls for a gorgeous local girl (Claudia Traisac) while visiting his brother (Brady Corbet) in Columbia. Maria is everything he could dream of, but things get complicated when he meets her family—or more specifically when he meets her uncle Pablo.
When it comes to potential movie project, Escobar is proving as inspirational as Harry Houdini. A few years back, Javier Bardem was being lined up to play notorious Columbian opposite Christian Bale in a crime drama that has since lost traction. Then talk emerged about a biopic titled The Latino Godfather, followed by Relativity Media's plan for one of their own called Silver and Lead. But where Paradise Lost has Escobar playing second fiddle to a tale of tricky teenaged love, Silver and Lead focuses on Escobar's battle against General Hugo Martinez, who aimed to bring him down. As we've seen with Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down, a double-dose of content can prove deadly to the latter release's box office. However, it seems like Silver and Lead and Paradise Lost's pursuits could be different enough not to alienate audiences.
Production on Paradise Lost recently wrapped in Panama, and the final film is expected to hit theaters in 2014. But in the meantime, you can get a glimpse behind the scenes thanks to one fan's posting of footage from a French entertainment show.