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Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg Reuniting for 'American Desperado'

by
June 28, 2013

Mark Wahlberg

After teaming up for the Universal Pictures war drama Lone Survivor, director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg are looking to collaborate again, this time on a crime thriller called American Desperado. Deadline reports the script comes from William Monahan (The Departed) and is based on Jon Roberts (the focus of Cocaine Cowboy) and Evan Wright's non-fiction book of the same name. The book comes from a series of conversations taking place over three years, chronicling Roberts' time as a gangster in New York City, working for the CIA and also smuggling drugs and cash for the infamous Medellín drug cartel. Whoa!

Here's the official description of the book:

American Desperado is Roberts’ no-holds-barred account of being born into Mafia royalty, witnessing his first murder at the age of seven, becoming a hunter-assassin in Vietnam, returning to New York to become -- at age 22 -- one of the city’s leading nightclub impresarios, then journeying to Miami where in a few short years he would rise to become the Medellin Cartel’s most effective smuggler.

But that’s just half the tale.

The roster of Roberts’ friends and acquaintances reads like a Who’s Who of the latter half of the 20th century and includes everyone from Jimi Hendrix, Richard Pryor, and O.J. Simpson to Carlo Gambino, Meyer Lansky, and Manuel Noriega.

Nothing if not colorful, Roberts surrounded himself with beautiful women, drove his souped-up street car at a top speed of 180 miles per hour, shared his bed with a 200-pound cougar, and employed a 6”6” professional wrestler called “The Thing” as his bodyguard.  Ultimately, Roberts became so powerful that he attracted the attention of the Republican Party’s leadership, was wooed by them, and even was co-opted by the CIA for which he carried out its secret agenda.

Scrupulously documented and relentlessly propulsive, this collaboration between a bloodhound journalist and one of the most audacious criminals ever is like no other crime book you’ve ever read.  Jon Roberts may be the only criminal who changed the course of American history.

Yeah, that sounds like a tale destined for the big screen, and it even has some flares that are reminiscent of the themes in The Departed, so it's perfect for Monahan to tackle. Wright is no stranger to seeing his work turned into entertainment since his book Generation Kill became a stellar HBO miniseries. With all the material in this book, the story might be better suited for that kind of adaptation, but that could always come after the film brings more attention to Roberts and his exploits. Wahlberg definitely has the chops to pull this off as a tough guy, and it's actually a little amusing that he would play this character considering how his series "Entourage" used Pablo Escobar and the Medellín cartel for a fictional film adaptation.

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