Academy Award winners Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, one of the most talented husband-wife pairs in Hollywood, have both signed on to star in the Pablo Escobar biopic Escobar for EuropaCorp, the company announced at Cannes earlier today.
Fernando Leon de Aranoa, whose past works include A Perfect Day (screening in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes this year), Mondays in the Sun and Familia, will write and direct the pic, working from a 2008 memoir by Virginia Vallejo titled Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar. As that title might suggest, the project will provide a more intimate look at one of history’s most notorious drug lords, following his rise to power through the eyes of Vallejo, a Colombian television anchorwoman and socialite who embarked on a love affair with the once-untouchable King of Cocaine after meeting him in 1982. The era of narcoterrorism began after the end of their romance in September of 1987.
The U.S. would later extract Vallejo from Colombia to save her life after she publicly accused several Colombian presidents and politicians of being beneficiaries and accomplices of the leading cocaine cartels.
Bardem is expected to play Escobar, while Cruz will take on the role of Vallejo. This is not the first time that the off-screen spouses have shared the screen – they started dating on the set of Vicky Cristina Barcelona in 2007, but they both co-starred in Jamon, Jamon way back in 1992, before either made it big in Hollywood. They also both appeared in Love Can Seriously Damage Your Health, Live Flesh and The Counselor.
Escobar will begin rolling cameras later in the year, with EuropaCorp eyeing the project as a potential awards contender. It’s not hard to see why – Bardem and Cruz are two highly regarded A-listers with closets full of statuettes, while Leon de Aranoa has delivered some terrifically moving Spanish-language films and may be on the cusp of a mainstream breakthrough with A Perfect Day.