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Javier Bardem to channel The King of Cocaine in Escobar biopic

Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar will be getting another push towards immortality with the new Luc Besson-produced biopic Escobar. Real-life couple Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) and Penelope Cruz (Vanilla Sky) co-star in the film based on Virgina Vallejo’s 2008 best-selling Spanish-language memoir “Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar.”

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Besson’s EuropaCorp, the French film producer known for the Taken trilogy and the Transporter series announced plans to finance, distribute, and co-produce the film with Dean Nichols Productions. Spanish writer/director Fernando Leon de Aranoa (A Perfect Day) will pen the screenplay and direct the biopic, which will begin production this year.

The film will follow the rise of Escobar, known as “The King of Cocaine,” will take a look at the drug kingpin and corrupt Colombian politician through the lens of Vallejo’s memoir. Vallejo was a television anchorwoman who became romantically involved with Escobar in the mid-80s. In addition to her romantic ties, the memoir details how the cocaine industry grew, the atrocities he was involved in, and the relationship that the Medellin and Cali cartels had with Caribbean dictators and Colombian presidents.

In addition to Nichols, Bardem and EuropaCorp CEO Christophe Lambert will co-produce the film. Jere Hausfater, Dany Boon and Todd Nichols will exec produce. The news was revealed at Cannes just a day after the reveal of another Besson project, an adaptation of the French sci-fi graphic novel series Valerian.

The couple last appeared onscreen together in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona in 2008, which also featured Scarlett Johansson. That film also depicted the couple as a conniving duo, in which they convinced Johansson’s character (as well as another character) to participate in a messy affair. Seeing as that film garnered Cruz an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and was a box-office hit, we have high hopes for the couple’s talent, and untapped chemistry to show us something brilliant in Escobar.