The script was penned by Brad Fulman, who will also direct the film.
Leguizamo was born in Colombia and campaigned heavily for the role. Deadline reports that after an initial rejection, he spent up to $15,000 on a fat suit and makeup in order to demonstrate how he would look as Escobar.
Leguizamo and Furman filmed a screen test and sent it to producer/financier Scott Steindorff, who denied Leguizamo the part for a second time. Leguizamo and Furman urged Steindorff to send the test to Relativity execs, without disclosing the identity of the actor.
Deadline.com reports that the screen test had a split-screen comparison between Leguizamo and the real-life Escobar. Relativity’s Tucker Tooley and Ryan Kavanaugh asked who the actor was, and Leguizamo was hired.