Mark Wahlberg to Star in Peter Berg’s AMERICAN DESPERADO, Written by William Monahan

     June 27, 2013


Though they only just finished working together on the Navy SEAL thriller Lone Survivor, director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg are already planning a reunion project.  Fresh off a new adaptation by Oscar-winning The Departed screenwriter William Monahan, Wahlberg has become attached to star in American Desperado with Berg directing.  The book is based on a series of interviews between Generation Kill author/journalist Evan Wright and super-criminal Jon Roberts, the focus of the documentary Cocaine Cowboys.

Roberts’ life story can be filed under “stranger than fiction,” as he recounts being born into Mafia royalty, running guns for the CIA, smuggling cocaine for the Medellin cartel, and brushing elbows with the likes of Richard Pryor and Jimi Hendrix.  Hit the jump for more on the project.

peter-berg-american-desperadoDeadline reports that Paramount is hoping the project can come together in time to start filming as soon as early next year, but that has yet to be firmed up since Monahan’s draft only just came in.  The talented Berg is proving quite capable at moving past last year’s disappointing Battleship, as he went right into directing Lone Survivor and Universal has now set the film for an awards qualifying release in late December.  The Friday Night Lights helmer is currently directing the pilot for Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof’s potential HBO series The Leftovers, and he’s also poised to helm another pilot for the network starring Dwayne Johnson and produced by Wahlberg.

As for Wahlberg, he’s currently filming the starring role in Michael Bay’s Transformers 4, and Universal is still hoping to possibly begin production on Ted 2 later this year.  American Desperado certainly sounds like an incredibly promising project, and the caliber of talent materializing behind the scenes is impressive.  Here’s hoping everything comes together.

american-desperado-book-coverRead a synopsis for the book below.

In 2008 veteran journalist Evan Wright, acclaimed for his New York Times bestselling book Generation Kill and co-writer of the Emmy-winning HBO series it spawned, began a series of conversations with super-criminal Jon Roberts, star of the fabulously successful documentary Cocaine Cowboys.  Those conversations would last three years, during which time Wright came to realize that Roberts was much more than the de-facto “transportation chief” of the Medellin Cartel during the 1980s, much more than a facilitator of a national drug epidemic.  As Wright’s tape recorder whirred and Roberts unburdened himself of hundreds of jaw-dropping tales, it became clear that perhaps no one in history had broken so many laws with such willful abandon.

Roberts, in fact, seemed to be a prodigy of criminality – but one with a remarkable self-awareness and a fierce desire to protect his son from following the same path.

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. [Amazon]

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