Benicio Del Toro prepares to shoot ''Che'' biopic. Writer-director Terrence Malick's long-planned follow-up to ''TheThin Red Line'' will shoot in July

By Gary Susman
Updated February 20, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Benicio Del Toro: Ash Knotek/Snappers/ZUMA Press/NewsCom

You’ve seen the college dorm poster, now see the movie! ”Che,” Benicio Del Toro’s long-gestating biopic of Cuban revolutionary Ernesto ”Che” Guevara, is finally going into production. Variety reports that Terrence Malick (”The Thin Red Line,”) who wrote the screenplay, will direct the independently financed film, embarking on a four-month South American shoot in July. Javier Bardem, who played a real-life refugee from Communist Cuba in ”Before Night Falls,” has an unspecified costarring role.

Del Toro had been talking about making a Guevara movie ever since he won his Oscar for his Spanish-speaking role in Steven Soderbergh’s ”Traffic” three years ago. Initially, Soderbergh was to direct, but last summer, he handed the reins over to Malick, who was actually in Bolivia, on assignment from The New Yorker to write about Guevara’s death there in 1967. Observers could be forgiven for wondering if the film would ever get made, since the reclusive Malick is known for between-film breaks that last even longer than Fidel Castro’s speeches. (Before 1998’s ”Thin Red Line,” Malick hadn’t directed a movie in 20 years.) But now that they’re going ahead, Malick and Del Toro find themselves in the midst of a Che mini-boom. ”The Motorcycle Diaries,” in which ”Y Tu Mamá También” star Gael Garcia Bernal plays the young Che, debuted at Sundance in January and will likely hit art-house screens later this year.