Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem team up for new film about Pablo Escobar

The Oscar-winners will star as the Colombian drug lord and his lover, journalist Virginia Vallejo

Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem

Spanish actors Javier Bardem, left, and Penelope Cruz pose for photographers before the Goya Film Awards Ceremony in Madrid [AP Photo/Abraham Caro Marin]

The Oscar-winning Spanish power couple Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are to reappear on screen together for the first time since 2008, co-starring in a new film about the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

A coproduction between the Spanish and Bulgarian film industries, Escobar will start filming on October 24th. Bardem is set to take on the role of the ill-fated drug kingpin and the head of the infamous Medellín cartel, while Cruz will play his lover, the journalist Virginia Vallejo.

“This is not a biopic, not just the story of a tough gangster. This is the story of the man who changed the history of crime in the last decades of the 20th century,” said Miguel Menendez de Zubillaga, the film’s producer.

The last time the couple appeared in the same film was in Woody Allen’s 2008 hit Vicky Cristina Barcelona, for which Cruz would go on to win the Academy Award for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for her role as a temperamental artist. Bardem had claimed the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Oscar the previous year for his turn as a psychotic assassin in the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men.

Escobar will be helmed by Spanish director Fernando Leon de Aranoa, whose previous films include the award-winning 2002 film Mondays in the Sun. That film also starred Bardem, and both actor and director were recognised at the Goya Awards, Spain’s highest honour for its domestic film industry, where the film would claim five awards in total.

Pablo Escobar reign as a drug lord in Colombia saw the South American country plunged into two decades of turmoil, with Escobar becoming one of the most-wanted fugitives in the world. The son of a farmer, he was at one point the seventh richest person in the world, whose ruthless approach to drug trafficking has been linked to the deaths of 3,000 people.

Escobar has been the subject of many documentaries and feature films since his death in December, 1993, most recently in the popular Netflix show Narcos.

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