Deadline is exclusively reporting that Gael García Bernal has signed up to star in Roger Ross Williams’ Cassandro, a biopic about gay wrestler Saúl Armendáriz.
Cassandro tells the true story of Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso who rises to international stardom after he creates the exótico character Cassandro, the ‘Liberace of Lucha Libre’, and in the process upends not just the macho wrestling world but also his own life.
Roger Ross Williams released a statement saying:
As a filmmaker, my own life experience has inspired my passion to tell inspirational stories about outsiders and uplift the voices of people we don’t normally see on screen. The true story of Cassandro, Saúl Armendáriz, was one I knew I wanted to tell from the moment I met him. I look forward to being able to bring Saúl’s story to a wide audience.
Saúl Armendáriz quit school at the age of fifteen and began training for Lucha Libre, then proceeding to begin his profession wrestling career in 1998 as Mister Romano. Ultimately he would abandon the character and take on the exótico (male wrestler in drag) character of Baby Sharon, before taking on the new ring name of Cassandro. In January 1991, after Armendáriz received bad press in the lead up to wrestling El Hijo del Santo for the UWA World Welterweight Championship, he reportedly attempted suicide but was saved. The title match was occurred a week later, with Armendáriz crediting it as being the match that earned him acceptance in the lucha libre community. Cassandro would go on to make history in October 1992 by becoming the first exótico to win the UWA World Lightweight Championship, as well as being the first exótico to hold a championship in the company.
Roger Ross Williams, who won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short in 2010 for Music by Prudence and also earned an Oscar nomination in 2016 for Best Documentary Feature with Life, Animated, has co-written the script with David Teague and Julián Herbert. Julie Goldman will be serving as producer on the project under the Motto Pictures banner, with Escape Artists’ Todd Black and Ted Hope also producing.
Cassandro is being scheduled to commence production in Mexico in November, with the filmmakers in talks with Amazon about acquiring the project.