As our country continues its strict war on drugs, VIVA International Pictures and MVP Entertainment present ESCOBAR (Loving Pablo), a movie that chronicles the rise and fall of the infamous Colombian tagged as the “King of All Narcos”, Pablo Escobar.
Based on the best-selling book “Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar” by Virginia Vallejo, a distinguished journalist with whom Escobar had an affair with, it stars Academy Award winners and real-life husband and wife, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz.
Several documentaries and feature films have already been done about this son of a farmer who, at one point, became the seventh richest person on the planet, but Bardem (Skyfall, No Country for Old Men) and director Fernando León de Aranoa (Barrio, Mondays in the Sun, A Perfect Day), assure that their movie is nothing like what viewers have seen before.
According to Bardem, “ESCOBAR (Loving Pablo) begins when Pablo Escobar is already an established businessman, but people hadn’t yet figured out how he was making his money. He meets Virginia, and through their relationship and her platform, he soon becomes a powerful public figure with a voice for the people.”
What the people of Colombia didn’t know was that the man they were supporting always had a selfish motive behind his actions, and it was too late when they finally came to realize it.
“That’s where the movie starts,” Bardem reveals, “and the story is that of the people around him as they realize what kind of a person he has become.”
As for de Aranoa, he believes that Pablo found a confidant in Virginia, “someone who he could convey his innermost ideas and intentions, which makes her a unique character and gives our story a fresh perspective.”
On how he and Penelope Cruz approached their characters, Bardem says, “Our portrayal of Pablo and Virginia are fully fleshed out human beings rather than stereotypes…We try to understand the motivation behind Pablo’s actions and why Virginia supported him at the beginning…That’s why it’s called Loving Pablo – because this movie is through Virginia’s eyes and the eyes of those who loved Pablo the human being.”
Cruz, who had worked with Bardem in Woody Allen’s hit Vicky Cristina Barcelona, for which she won the 2009 Best Supporting Actress Award at the Oscar’s, prepared hard for her role. “I’ve never met her,” says Cruz, pertaining to Virginia Vallejo who currently resides in Miami, “but I’ve studied about 800 hours of various interviews and shows that she did as a journalist and TV presenter. She is the one that trained Escobar how to use the media to communicate, how to deal with the press, how to address the public. In his political career, she became a significant figure in his life.
Playing the significant role of Agent Shepard who is instrumental in the capture of Escobar is celebrated actor Peter Sarsgaard (The Magnificent Seven, Experimenter). It was Bardem who emailed him and offered him the role. “One of the things that Javier baited me with when he was first talking about the movie, is that he said that I had a lot of scenes with Penelope.” He had worked with Cruz in the film Elegy, and he’s a fan of Berdam as well, so he readily said yes to doing this film with them.
Audiences can expect “amazing action moments” from this crime drama. But most of all, Bardem emphasizes, “this story is about relationships – love, hate, greed, ambition, pain, and joy.”
ESCOBAR (Loving Pablo) opens in cinemas nationwide on June 20, 2018.