1. Narcos was originally supposed to be a full-length feature film. According to Producer Eric Newman, once they started discussing how in-depth they wanted to get with the backstories of both the good and the bad characters, the team knew there would be way too much content for a movie. The story was just too good. It needed to be a series.
2. Brazilian actor Wagner Moura had to learn Spanish for the role of Pablo Escobar. He fully immersed himself in the character by taking a Spanish class at a local university and reading everything that had ever been printed about Pablo Escobar.
3. Moura also gained 40lbs to play Escobar—and even after that, he had to wear a fake stomach to really nail Escobar’s physique. Director José Padilha explained that Escobar himself was smoking marijuana all day and would literally eat everything in sight. His physical appearance needed to reflect his life of absurd luxury.
4. The production team was very specific about not depicting the drug war in just clearcut black and white, or good versus bad. Moura explicitly stated that the intention was never to make a show that depicted the “good American cops” going to a Third World country to save everyone.
5. Director Padilha admits that Goodfellas was a big inspiration for how he envisioned the final outcome of the series.
6. Since the actual Escobar documented himself so thoroughly, there were loads of photos and archived video footage to consult for costume recreation and inspiration throughout production of the show.
7. Escobar had to invest in $2,500 worth of rubber bands per month, just so he could hold all his cash together (seriously).
8. Roughly 10% of the cash Escobar kept hidden was eaten, each year, by actual rats. The total amount is in the billions. It made next to no difference to his overall wealth.
9. He even purchased a jet specifically to fly and transport his cash.
10. Escobar was making so much money so quickly that it’s been said he literally set fire to and burned a pile of $2 million to keep his daughter warm while they were on the run.
11. Escobar’s home, Hacienda Napoles, which is featured on the show, was built on 5,000 acres of land. It included a zoo, which, even after the property fell to ruins, was occupied by at least 20 hippos.
12. Escobar’s greatest fear was being extradited to the United States. He was terrified of spending the last years of his life in an American jail. He even offered to pay Colombia’s debt in an attempt to change the extradition laws—only about $10 billion.
13. By the end of the 1980s, Escobar was in control and supplying 80% of the world’s cocaine. Approximately 4 out of 5 Americans doing cocaine were snorting lines supplied directly by Escobar.
14. In 1989, Escobar was listed as the 7th richest man in the entire world.
15. Escobar was directly responsible for upwards of 4,000 deaths, including 200 judges, 1,000 police workers, journalists, and government officials.
16. At the same time, Escobar spent millions on renovating parks, schools, stadiums, and hospitals throughout Colombia. That’s how he got his nickname “Robin Hood.”
17. Escobar’s son (also portrayed on the show) changed his name from Juan Pablo Escobar to Sebastián Marroquín and wrote a book about his father. As far as his father’s legacy goes, Morroquîn’s says that Escobar was “very far from being a hero—I always say if someone reads my book and wants to be Pablo Escobar, then I did a bad job.”