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THE LAST STAND

Spin Out: Eduardo Noriega as Cortez
To play THE LAST STAND's sinister villain -- the international drug lord Cortez -- the filmmakers sought the very opposite of your standard image of a sleazy crime kingpin. On the contrary, they wanted Cortez to be whip-smart, sleekly sophisticated, as skilled with technology as a Fortune 500 CEO... and simultaneously, one of the coldest human beings ever to wear a custom suit. They found that combo in the hot and rapidly rising Spanish actor Eduardo Noriega.

Says di Bonaventura, "Eduardo is a wonderful actor. He can pull off that wonderful dichotomy -- that flair that comes from a life of privilege, along with the menace of a bad guy."

Noriega jokingly calls his character "a bit of a spoiled boy." He goes on: "I read in the papers once, that a man had bought a school so he could fire a teacher who had scolded his son. I immediately thought this could be a Gabriel Cortez biographical anecdote. My character is someone very powerful who has lots of money and thinks he can buy everything. He's used to getting everything he wants and so he can be really dangerous if he doesn't get it."

To pave his way towards the escape and freedom he expects will be his reward, Cortez employs a brutal lieutenant, Burrell, who is played with menace to spare by veteran villain portrayer Peter Stormare, also seen this year in HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS.

Stormare had previously collaborated with di Bonaventura on CONSTANTINE, and the producer says, "I still remember what he did playing Satan, which is one of the great moments I've had as a producer, as Burrell, he's an exceedingly confident, cynically funny enemy. When he goes up against Owens and his gang, even though he's a coldhearted mercenary, you can see that he's somewhat amused by the fact that these small town officers are standing up to him. I think both he and Chris bring a lot to what might otherwise be second tier bad guys."

Jee-woon adds: "Ever since seeing Fargo, I've been a fan of Peter and here he creates a scary, yet fun and endearing villain."

Perhaps Cortez's greatest ally in his battle is another key character in THE LAST STAND -- not a man but the machine that powers the criminal's dazzling exit strategy through the Southwestern desert: the Corvette ZR1, the fastest car available for purchase "directly off the line." The special version seen in THE LAST STAND is a super souped-up auto show showstopper, with more than 1,000 horsepower and top speeds around 250 miles per hour.

"It can outrun anything anyone can throw at it," di Bonaventura states, "and at one point, we considered, 'What if they called in a fighter jet to blow it off the road?' -- but that takes a Presidential order, and you're not going to be able to secure an order to shoot a civilian in a car in two hours' time. So, Cortez's plan is basic and simple: make a run across the border. Add to that, that Cortez can buy any engineer, any think tank guy, anyone with a plan to make a part of the border thought to be impassable, workable. And that's what brings him straight through Sommerton."

For Jee-woon the car had to come off as dangerous as Cortez himself. "I drove the car before we started filming," the director confesses. "Driving it was fun, but riding in the passenger seat was scary. It's more like riding a beast than a car. The engine revs are like growls. Maybe this is what riding a tiger or a lion feels like. And that's what I wanted to portray: the car's beastly nature."

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