In the last few years, Leonardo DiCaprio has had a mixed run playing law enforcement roles - as the amazingness of both Martin Scorsese's The Departed and Shutter Island are unfortunately counterbalanced by the snore-fest that is Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar. Of course, that doesn't mean his time wearing a badge is necessarily over, as new reports are suggesting that he could wind up taking the lead role as DEA agent Art Keller in a big screen adaptation of Don Winslow's recently-released novel The Cartel.
Deadline broke the scoop on this one, reporting that 20th Century Fox won an auction for the book's screen rights - as well as the rights to the book that introduced Art Keller into fiction, The Power of the Dog. Ridley Scott is apparently committed to directing the high-priced adaptation, and Shane Salerno - who penned the last big screen Don Winslow film, Oliver Stone's Savages - is writing the script.
Described as a sprawling epic that is set over the course of many years, the story of both The Power of the Dog and The Cartel centers on the relationship between Art Keller and a Mexican drug kinpin named Adan Berrera. When the two men first meet, they became friends, as Keller was just a young DEA agent and Berrera was just a small-time drug dealer. The second book follows a bloody feud between the two men after the kingpin manages to break out of prison. It's unclear if Fox has plans to turn these two books into one movie, or if they plan to launch a brand new franchise with the source material. The latter would be an interesting step for DiCaprio, given that he has never played the same character twice on the big screen.
As Deadline notes, there is a lot in the package that will be seen as attractive for Leonardo DiCaprio's eyes. It's suggested that the actor's production banner, Appian Way, would come on-board if he were to commit, and it would be a chance for him to work with Ridley Scott for the first time since Body of Lies. Plus, there is a political message about the drug war to get across, and if orchestrated properly it could be yet another opportunity for the Django Unchained star to reach for Oscar gold.
We haven't seen DiCaprio up on the big screen since he wowed us with his over-the-top performance in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, but he'll be back in theaters this winter with the lead role in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's The Revenant. Beyond that, his plans are up in the air... so perhaps that void could be filled by The Cartel.
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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.