Premiere Today: ‘Loving Pablo’
“Escobar (Loving Pablo)” 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, it stars Academy Award winners and real-life husband and wife, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz.
The book is available in English language at Amazon.
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. Including “Narcos” iconic series on Netflix.
“Since 1998 I have been intrigued by the character ‘Pablo Escobar’ as a person. Over the last twenty years, I have been offered a number of Escobar roles, but I always refused them because they didn’t invoke any feeling beyond a stereotype,” said Bardem, who also serves as one of the producers.
Escobar’s reign as a drug lord in Colombia ultimately plunged the South American country into two decades of turmoil, with Escobar becoming one of the most wanted fugitives in the world. It stands to reason that such a dramatic real-life character would inspire many documentaries, feature films, and television after his death in December 1993.
“‘Escobar (Loving Pablo)’ begins when Pablo Escobar is already an established businessman,” he also said, “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.
On how he and Penelope 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 Oscars, prepared hard for her role. “I’ve never met her,” she says, 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 Bardem 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.”
“Loving Pablo” opens in cinemas nationwide on June 29, 2018.