NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nick Cassavetes, who co-wrote the drug film "Blow" and directed romantic drama "The Notebook," has signed on to direct a new biopic about notorious drug dealer Rick Ross, the director and Ross have confirmed.
Cassavetes and Ross -- also known as "Freeway" Rick Ross -- said the film would explore Ross's masterminding of the crack cocaine trade from his base in Los Angeles during the early 1980s and his claims of being supplied by Nicaraguan Contras.
"My brother was a mercenary. He worked in Central America training the Contras, so in a way the story is personal to me," Cassavetes told Reuters in an email. "The fact that our government may have been complicit in destroying an entire community of people makes the story personal for everyone."
The film will explore the height of Ross' career when he says he often moved 100 kilograms of cocaine every day from his headquarters in the South Central section of Los Angeles and distributed it across the Unites States.
He claims to have been supplied by rebels (Contras) fighting the government of Nicaragua, and the film is expected to touch on the Iran-Contra affair of the late 1980s, when some officials in the administration of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan were convicted of secretly facilitating arms sales to Iran and funneling money to Nicaraguan Contras.
Cassavetes, the son of indie film pioneer John Cassavetes, signed on to write the untitled film in June last year, but only just agreed to direct it several weeks ago.
Cassavetes said that while he did not like comparing past films, "if I had to compare this movie to another that's been made in terms of a feeling, a point of view, maybe 'Traffic'," referring to the 2000 drama that explored the illegal drug trade from a number of different perspectives.
The writer/director has finished a script and hopes to begin shooting this year, but a start date depends on gaining full financing from independent investors, Ross said.
Ross said the film would not touch on his childhood but would focus mostly on his adult life. He spent 20 years in prison, but the film is not expected to center on his time behind bars. Rather, it will cover his career selling drugs.
"We become addicted to the power, the money, the manipulation, the whole lifestyle, the whole drug culture," Ross said about dealers, "And you are going to get to see this in the movie, how a guy goes from being a novice to being a drug expert."
The former drug trafficker, from whom the rapper Rick Ross derived his stage name, said he has talked directly Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg about acting in or producing the movie, but no actor has been signed to star in the film.
Ross said he now travels the country speaking to ex-offenders and rehabilitation programs.
Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Bob Tourtellotte