Back in September, Paramount made the initially unpopular announcement that the studio was veering away from blockbusters and putting a stronger focus in streaming content. Almost a year later, and the studio seems to be keeping true to its word and today comes with news of the studio bringing even more resources to bear to challenge other streamers beyond its home shores. Paramount+ is making a big push into international markets and at the tip of their spear is John Leguizamo as the infamous Joaquín Guzmán, aka El Chapo.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Paramount+ is beginning to invest in originals from countries such as France, Germany, and Mexico. Reportedly, the plan is for the streamer to have commissioned somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 original projects from countries outside the U.S. within the next three years. One of the first series will be The First Lady of Sinaloa — a Mexico-based series in which John Leguizamo will star as El Chapo. The show apparently won’t focus so much on El Chapo as it will his wife, Emma Coronel, who would rise to become, “Mexico’s most formidable crime wife.” The series will stream “exclusively on Paramount+ in Latin America and all international markets.”
The First Lady of Sinaloa won’t be the first time John Leguizamo takes a crack at a crime lord. He played the ruthless Benny Blanco in the classic 1993 crime drama Carlito’s Way. Al Pacino stars as the recently released ex-con Carlito who — like a certain other iconic Pacino character — tries to get out but they keep pulling him back in. Benny Blanco is a young up-and-coming gangster who first tries to woo Pacino’s Carlito into going into business with him. Carlito underestimates the younger man, to harsh consequences. Hitting screens relatively early in Leguizamo’s career, Carlito’s Way gave him the chance to work with not only Pacino but impressive names like Sean Penn, Viggo Mortensen, and director Brian De Palma.
There’s another great crime role we’d love to see John Leguizamo go back to, but so far there’s no news of it happening. In 2014’s John Wick Leguizamo made his first appearance as Aurelio — the owner of a chop shop that has the bad luck of being the first place the doomed Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) goes after beating the titular assassin to a pulp and killing his puppy. Leguizamo reprised the role in 2017’s John Wick: Chapter 2 but was a no-show for 2019’s John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum. Back in 2020, Leguizamo told Looper that not only had he shot scenes for Chapter 3 that were cut, but that he originally had a much larger role in Chapter 2. He also told the site that while he was initially pretty upset by the cuts, that directing his theatrical feature debut — 2020’s Critical Thinking — helped him see things from the other side of the camera and make peace with his absence. He did say, however, he’d definitely say yes to appearing in John Wick: Chapter 4. Whether or not he ever got that call, we’ll have to wait and see.