Benicio Del Toro To Play Drug Lord Pablo Escobar In Paradise Lost

Benicio del Toro in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Benicio Del Toro has previous experience playing historical figures, starring as Ernesto Che Guevara in Steven Soderbergh's 2008 two-part epic Che, but apparently he's ready to dive into another one. The Oscar-winning actor has signed a deal to star in Paradise Lost, a new romantic thriller that will see the star play famed Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Variety reports the story is "inspired by true events" and follows a surfer named Nick who travels to visit his brother in Colombia. While there he falls in love with a woman named Maria, but things get very complicated when he discovers that the famed Escobar is her uncle. Andrea di Stefano, an Italian actor who has a role in Ang Lee's upcoming Life of Pi, both wrote the script for the film and will be making the project his directorial debut. Production will be taking place down in Panama for 11 weeks and the budget is estimated to be around $25 million.

Said producer Dimitri Rassam in a statement about the casting news, "[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." He went on to compare the film's narrative to the Academy Award winning The Last King of Scotland, adding that Paradise Lost will be "weaving Nick and Maria's romance with Nick's ambivalent and destructive relationship with Escobar."

This past summer Del Toro starred in Oliver Stone's Savages and he recently completed work on Arnaud Desplechin's Jimmy Picard, in which he'll play the title character. He is also currently attached to the action comedy Agent: Century 21 with Cameron Diaz.

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