Chiwetel Ejiofor Slated to Lead the Prison Drama 'Marching Powder'

June 9, 2014
Source: Deadline

Marching Powder / Chiwetel Ejiofor

Following news that 12 Years a Slave supporting actress Lupita Nyong'o had not only landed a role in Star Wars: Episode VII, but also her own project called Americanah that will reateam her with producer Brad Pitt and his Plan B production banner, the leading man of the Best Picture winning film has a new project in the works as well. New Regency, the company who produced the slavery drama, has picked up the rights to Rusty Young & Thomas McFadden's non-fiction book Marching Powder, and Chiwetel Ejiorfor will lead the story that deals a drug trafficker, a journalist and a corrupt, unbelievable prison in South America.

Here's the official synopsis of the book that paints an interesting picture:

Rusty Young was backpacking in South America when he heard about Thomas McFadden, a convicted English drug trafficker who ran tours inside Bolivia's notorious San Pedro prison. Intrigued, the young Australian journalisted went to La Paz and joined one of Thomas's illegal tours. They formed an instant friendship and then became partners in an attempt to record Thomas's experiences in the jail. Rusty bribed the guards to allow him to stay and for the next three months he lived inside the prison, sharing a cell with Thomas and recording one of the strangest and most compelling prison stories of all time.

San Pedro is not your average prison. Inmates are expected to buy their cells from real estate agents. Others run shops and restaurants. Women and children live with imprisoned family members. It is a place where corrupt politicians and drug lords live in luxury apartments, while the poorest prisoners are subjected to squalor and deprivation. Violence is a constant threat, and sections of San Pedro that echo with the sound of children by day house some of Bolivia's busiest cocaine laboratories by night. In San Pedro, cocaine--"Bolivian marching powder"--makes life bearable. Even the prison cat is addicted.

Deadline says Ejiofor will be playing McFadden, the drug trafficker, but it's not clear who will take the role of Rusty Young just yet. This sounds like a wholly remarkable two-hander story in a prison that is run unlike any other we've ever seen on the big screen before. The film is being developed as a star vehicle for Ejiofor, but it sounds like the role of Young will be just as integral to the film. Either way, it's good to see an actor like Ejiofor having projects built around him, especially after finally getting the acclaim and attention he deserves due to his performance in 12 Years a Slave. We'll be paying attention to this project for sure.

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