When Netflix released Narcos in 2015, it took the world by storm. It tells the story of notorious cartel leader Pablo Escobar and his control of the cocaine market in the 1980s and early 1990s. Many fans already loosely knew this story, but Narcos still got millions of viewers and a ton of critical praise. For my money, it’s the best thing Netflix has ever put out.
However, despite there being throngs of diehard Narcos fans out there, there are still some things most people didn’t know about the show or even Escobar himself. This article will take a closer look at Narcos and give you ten interesting facts you might not have not known about the Netflix hit, which is through three seasons already with a fourth on the way.
10. The Product Design was Authentic Thanks to Escobar Himself
If you’re wondering how the design of everything from the clothing to the buildings on Narcos was so superb, you actually have Pablo Escobar himself to thank for that. See, Escobar kept a very detailed visual documentation of himself over the years, so it was easy for producers of the show to see exactly what he and his comrades were wearing at many different points. If Escobar hadn’t kept so many videos and pictures of his life, the costume and set design on the show might never have been as authentic as it was.
9. Pablo Escobar’s Son Doesn’t Like the Show
We meet a young version of Escobar’s son, Juan Pablo, in Narcos, but as it turns out the real life Juan Pablo was not too keen on some of the things included in the show. Juan Pablo has since changed his name to Sebastian Marroquin to avoid the infamous “Escobar” moniker, but has still written (in many publications) about how he didn’t like some of the times that Netflix stretched the truth in their show about his family. While Narcos was marketed as a true story with some dramatization, Juan Pablo wasn’t a big fan at all. In particular, he didn’t like how they depicted Escobar selling drugs to Europe, saying it very unrealistic.
8. The Man Who Played Pablo Didn’t Speak Spanish Before the Show
That’s right, the man who spoke almost exclusively in Spanish during the filming of Narcos couldn’t even speak it before he was cast. Wagner Moura is Brazilian and as a result, he speaks Portuguese as his native language. In order to become Pablo Escobar and speak perfect Spanish, Moura moved to Columbia six months before shooting so he could immerse himself in the culture and learn the language (along with taking lessons). He now says he knows Spanish better than he knows English, despite learning it much later in life.
7. Two Media Giants Came Together to Make the Show
While the show aired on Netflix and the streaming giant gets all the credit for creating it, they aren’t the only ones who were responsible for Narcos getting produced and released. The series was actually the brainchild of the English Netflix and the popular Spanish-language television Univision. Different people from all over the planet helped bring this show to life. The director was from Brazil, the head writer was American, and many other nationalities are represented in the form of Narcos’ soundtrack, acting, and crew. While the early seasons of the show focused on Escobar’s story, the series has continued on since Pablo’s death and is still very popular — even without Pablo’s character.
6. Just How Much Money Pablo Escobar Had
While the show painted Pablo as a very rich man (and he was), it’s truly hard to comprehend just how much money he made during his reign as the king of Medellin. In fact, he was once estimated to be the seventh richest man on the planet. At one point, he was making about $20 billion every single year, and smuggling $70 million worth of cocaine every single week. He was so rich that he would spend thousands of dollars a week on rubber bands for his cash and about $2 billion of his earnings were eaten by rats every single year. Now that’s a lot of money!
5. Moura Had a Dramatic Body Change Throughout the Show
During the timeline of Narcos, Escobar’s character goes from having a small pot belly at the start to being quite overweight near the end of the series. However, before he landed the role of Colombia’s most notorious criminal, Wagner Moura was a pretty slim man. He was in great shape, actually. As a result, he had to put on about 40 pounds of weight so he could look more like Escobar. As the series wore one, sometimes that that wasn’t even enough — as he still had to wear a fake belly during some scenes to actually capture the look of Escobar. Once his role on Narcos was finished, Moura took on a vegetarian diet to try get his body back into shape after being Pablo Escobar essentially ruined it.
4. The Executive Producer Regrets When They Killed off Escobar
For anyone who knows about the real-life story of Pablo Escobar, they know he ends up being killed by the DEA in the early 1990s after a long manhunt. As a result, it wouldn’t make sense to change history and have him make it to the end of the series. So in the Season Three of the show, Escobar is nowhere to be seen.
While the show is still great and fans love it, executive producer Eric Newman sort of regrets not stretching Escobar’s life out for a few more seasons. Narcos was originally only meant to last two seasons, but it was so successful that Netflix decided to make more, turning it into an ongoing drama about the fight against the Colombian Cartel. While fans definitely miss Moura’s masterful performance as Escobar, they will be just fine without him.
3. Wagner Moura Was a Massive Star in His Native Brazil Before Narcos
While Narcos was the introduction to Wagner Moura for most of us in North America, it was not his first major role. Not even close. Moura was actually a hugely famous stage and film actor in his native Brazil and has been working in the industry since the mid-1990s. He is best known as the protagonist of Elite Squad, which is largely seen as the best, most popular, and highest-grossing film in Brazilian history. In addition to that, he is also a musician in Brazil and even heads up a band called “Your Mom” (its actually Sua Mae, which roughly translates to “Your Mom” in English). So as you can see, Moura was incredibly famous and successful before Narcos was ever created.
2. Pablo’s Death In the Show Was Filmed in the Exact Location He Actually Died
The ending of Pablo’s life on the show was the culmination of the first two seasons. It was a very tense scene, and the producers of the show wanted it to be perfect. As a result, they couldn’t settle for any old filming location. In fact, they actually filmed the death scene on the exact same rooftops where the real Escobar was chased down and ultimately killed. They needed to be as accurate as possible, as this was not only a huge part of the show, but this capture and killing of Escobar was highly publicized in real life as well — and remains a decisive moment in history of the Colombian people.
1. Narcos Was Originally Supposed to be a Feature Film
That’s right, before Narcos ever blessed our small screens as a Netflix show, it was supposed to a major Hollywood movie. Up until right before filming, everything was in place to have this be a film. But after doing a deeper dig in terms of research, the production developed deep backstories for numerous characters and there was simply too much to include in a single movie.
Thankfully, Netflix was there to help make this dream of a series a reality, and here we are. While a feature film could have still been great, we are very glad they went the route of an expanded TV series instead. It allows for much more character development and intricate story telling that wouldn’t have been possible if it was just a single two-hour feature film.