Netflix, Gaumont Sets ‘Elite Squad’ Star Wagner Moura For Pablo Escobar In ‘Narcos’

UPDATE, 6:34 AM: Chris Brancato, who worked with Gaumont and NBC on Hannibal, has been set to run Narcos, and a broader description of the series’ ambition is below.

EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, March 31, 5:40 PT: Gaumont International Television and Netflix have found an intriguing actor to play Pablo Escobar, the villain in their new series Narcos. In what amounts to an Elite Squad re-team, director Jose Padilha has set Wagner Moura to play the Medellin Cartel leader. Moura played the police captain who battled corruption in his effort to take down drug dealers in the two Padilha-directed films that were huge hits in Brazil. Now, he’s playing the biggest drug trafficker of his era. As Netflix pushes beyond the U.S. and into Latin America, landing one of Brazil’s biggest stars is a coup.

Related: Netflix Eyes Pablo Escobar Series From Gaumont International TV & José Padilha

GIT is producing one of Netflix’s first original series, Eli Roth’s monster thriller Hemlock Grove, which premieres April 19. The series will chronicle the life and death of Escobar, the ruthless cartel boss and known terrorist who also was a congressman, a family man and revered by the poor as a new Robin Hood. Padilha, is slated to oversee and direct the 13-episode first season, which is eying a 2014 debut on Netflix. It came from an idea by exec producer Eric Newman, who developed it for years with writers Doug Miro & Carlo Bernard (Sorcerer’s Apprentice) and then pitched Padilha while they were making the Robocop remake together, which Newman produced and Padilha directed. It was originally envisioned as a feature, but they decided that a series was a better way to tell a sprawling story, with a big part of the allure was making a series that would reach the expanding Latin American TV market, and the show will be bilingual and will shoot in Colombia, often in the real locations during the hunt for Escobar and all the mayhem he created. Newman is in business with Netflix and Gaumont already with the series Hemlock Grove. Chris Brancato, who worked on Hannibal for Gaumont and NBC, is running this series, which begins with the hunt for Escobar but moves on to the rise and subsequent fall of the Cali cartel, the north valley cartel, and the move into Mexico which gives the series plenty of ground to cover with an ambition to bring this to the current day battle to halt the drug trade.

Moura is repped by UTA, manager Brent Travers and attorney Gregory Slewett.

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