John Leguizamo Lands the 'King of Cocaine' After Paying $15k for His Own Pablo Escobar Makeup Tests

John Leguizamo Lands the 'King of Cocaine' After Paying $15k for His Own Pablo Escobar Makeup Tests

Sep 10, 2013

Deadline shared the story of John Leguizamo's journey to play Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar in the upcoming Brad Furman-directed biopic King of Cocaine. Oscar Isaac and Benecio Del Toro were two of the bigger names circling the project, but it all came down to a $15,000 screen test that Leguizamo funded himself in order to prove to producers that he could transform into the head of the Medellín Cartel.

The baby-faced Leguizamo seems ageless and eternally wiry, but the actor has indeed filled out a little (he's almost 50 now). Still, he had to sit for a makeup artist in order pad himself to appear like the stocky, tough guy that Escobar was. Financiers initially told Leguizamo he didn't have the box office pull that some of his contemporaries had, but that didn't stop the Carlito's Way star from persisting. Producers were convinced he could make magic happen once they set eyes on the screen test, featuring Leguizamo bulked out with prostheses.

The actor just appeared in Kick-Ass 2 and has a string of projects lined up for next year, but it's been a few years since we really fell in love with a Leguizamo role. King of Cocaine starts shooting in Colombia in January. Will this be the late-career part to take Leguizamo to the next level?

[Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.]

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