It's no small order to find an actor capable of playing Pablo Escobar—after all, he's one of history's most well-known and mythologized drug lords. Wisely, when casting the 2001 George Jung biopic (starring Johnny Depp) Blow, director Ted Demme and his colleagues opted away from big-name actors, any of whom would've taken audiences out of the picture. Imagine trying to buy that you're seeing Escobar at work if the Colombian cocaine trafficker is being portrayed by George Clooney or Liam Neeson.
In actor Cliff Curtis, the filmmakers found a relatively unknown performer who both resembled a younger Escobar and could legitimately command the screen. Which was crucial, since Escobar's scenes in Blow depict him as the criminal leader that he was, and, furthermore, quietly scary.