Puerto Rican actor Benicio Del Toro is in final negotiations to play the notorious Colombian cocaine trafficker Pablo Escobar in Paradise Lost.

Inspired by true events, Paradise Lost is a romantic-thriller that follows young surfer Nick, who visits his brother in California and falls in love with a local girl called Maria. However, their romance takes a surprise turn when Nick meets her uncle, Pablo Escobar. Producer Dimitri Rassam likened the movie’s structure to that of The Last King of Scotland, which portrayed Idi Amin’s dictatorship through the eyes of his physician.

Rassam praised Del Toro as an ideal fit for the role, calling him “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 noted that Paradise isn’t an Escobar biopic. It “will have a narrative structure in the vein of The Last King of Scotland, weaving Nick and Maria’s romance with Nick’s ambivalent and destructive relationship with Escobar,” Rassam explained.

Dimitri Rassam’s company Chapter 2 has joined with Jerome Seydoux‘s Pathe and Frederique Dumas‘s Studio 37 to co-produce the project. Italian actor-turned-filmmaker, Andrea Di Stefano (Life of Pi, Nine), penned the script and is also set to make his directorial debut.

Del Toro was last seen playing a cartel enforcer in Oliver Stone’s Savages. He’ll play another drug lord in the upcoming action-comedy Agent: Century 21, co-starring Cameron Diaz.

The Oscar- winning actor is also set to star in the upcoming romantic film How the Light Gets In. Del Toro is re-teaming with Traffic and Che producer Laura Bickford on the project, chronicling a love story set at four hotels.

With a budget of about $25 million, Paradise Lost will begin filming March 2013 in Panama. The shoot is expected to take about eleven weeks.

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