Cocaine Cowboys (based on Jon Roberts’ memoir American Desperado) is one of the projects that The Fighter director David O. Russell and star Mark Wahlberg were going to collaborate on, prior to their reported falling out over Bradley Cooper ‘replacing’ the latter in Silver Linings Playbook (which has racked up three Golden Globes nominations, as it were).
Wahlberg remains onboard a producer and (possible) star, with the project’s title having reverted to American Desperado (note: the documentary about Roberts is called Cocaine Cowboys). Peter Berg is co-producing through his Film 44 and has given thought to directing; that could still happen, since he and Wahlberg are fresh off making Lone Survivor together.
The most recent American Desperado script was penned by Generation Kill author Evan Wright, who worked with Roberts on the non-fiction source material (which bears the subtitle My Life As A Cocaine Cowboy). Deadline says William Monahan – who won an Academy Award for penning The Departed, featuring Wahlberg in an Oscar-nominated role – has been recruited for a rewrite, but that he plans to draw inspiration primarily from the book (not Wright’s prior draft).
American Desperado dives into all the dirty little secrets of the late Roberts (who passed away last year), revealing that he was much more than the Medellin Cartel transportation chief getting by in Reagan-era America; that side of the story was told in Cocaine Cowboys, which came out first. Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay – who just collaborated with Wahlberg on another bizarre true tale of machismo and crime, called Pain & Gain – were previously reported to be developing a TV series based on the 2006 doc, but there hasn’t been a significant update on that venture for a while now.
Monahan has been exceptionally-busy of late, contributing to scripts for upcoming films like Tom Cruise’s sci-fi thriller Oblivion, Robert Rodriguez’ comic book sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and The Gambler from producer Martin Scorsese and director Todd Phillips (The Hangover); not to mention, an American version of director Park Chan-wook’s cult film Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. However, given his writing resume (including, Body of Lies and Edge of Darkness), we’re not complaining about Monahan getting more work.
On a different note: American Desperado is a crazy-but-true account of Roberts’ criminal career and could’ve easily made for an equally wild and eccentric movie in Russell’s hands; more so than with Berg in charge, based on their oeuvres. Right now, Russell is pressing ahead with another project about a curious incident in U.S. history (originally called American Bullsh**t) – consider it a consolation prize.
Screen Rant will keep you posted on American Desperado.