John Leguizamo is usually not my cup of tea–I actually think he’s better when not reveling in his trademark ADD mania–but I salute the veteran actor for going all out to get the part he desperately wanted.
King of Cocaine is the biopic of Pablo Escobar, the late drug kingpin. Leguizamo wanted to play Escobar, but was told no. Oscar Isaac had the role before having to bow out. Leguizamo then got passed over again, though he refused to give up on landing his dream role.
Leguizamo then went out and spent upwards of $15,000 of his own money for a fat suit and prosthetic makeup that rendered him a dead ringer for Escobar at his prime. Leguizamo and [director Brad] Furman filmed a screen test, and got it to producer [Scott] Steindorff, who once again said no. Furman [who credits Leguizamo with his directing career] fought for it and got the producer to submit it to Relativity execs, without disclosing the identity of the actor. It not only showed him portraying Escobar, it even had a split screen comparison to the actual drug kingpin. Relativity’s Tucker Tooley and Ryan Kavanaugh…ask[ed] who the actor was. Furman told them, and suddenly they took Leguizamo seriously. He was hired shortly after to star in the $25 million film.
That’s how Leguizamo landed the role of a lifetime. Now he has to deliver the goods. So, yeah, no pressure. Production on King of Cocaine is slated to begin in Colombia this January.