Since joining a select club including Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep and Denzel Washington by winning his second Academy Award last month, Sean Penn has been searching for his next role and, according to Variety, he may have found it. The trade reports Penn is in talks to star in the drama "Cartel" for Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment.

Originally intended as a remake of the 1993 Italian film "La scorta," which followed four cops struggling to protect a prosecutor in charge of taking down mob bosses, the project slowly evolved into an action vehicle (you didn't misread that, an "action vehicle") for Penn.

Now, the current incarnation of the project finds Penn playing Ed Marker, a man who goes on a journey to protect his son after his wife is brutally murdered in the gritty world of Mexican cartels.

The picture will also make the dramatic feature directing debut for Asger Leth who won a DGA Award for the 2006 documentary "Gosts of Cite Soleil."

Two weeks ago it was also reported Penn would star alongside Naomi Watts in the Doug Liman directed biopic "Fair Game."  Those discussions are said to still on going.

Penn hasn't ventured into action films very often over the past decade.  He's steadfastly avoided the Jerry Bruckheimer and Joel Silver machines, but has starred in Sydney Pollack's "The Interpreter" and David Fincher's "The Game." Penn will next appear on screen alongside Brad Pitt in Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life."

Universal would like to begin shooting the Brian Grazer produced "Cartel"  sometime this summer.

 

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