'The Infiltrator' Is A True Story & The Pablo Escobar Drug Bust Was Crazier Than Fiction

If you're used to seeing Bryan Cranston as the meth dealing Walter White from Breaking Bad, prepare to be amazed. In his new film, The Infiltrator, Cranston plays Robert Mazur, a character who is on the other side of the drug war. In the film, Cranston's Mazur, a U.S. Customs special agent, goes undercover in a huge government operation to take down drug lord Pablo Escobar. Odds are you haven't heard of Mazur, but the name Pablo Escobar should ring a few bells. Escobar is one of the most famous drug lords ever; he created a cocaine empire in his native Colombia, and eventually formed the Medellin Cartel. But, just because Escobar was a real person doesn't mean Mazur was, too. So, is The Infiltrator based on a true story, or is it a fictional interpretation of history?

The Infiltrator and Mazur's story are actually 100% real. In fact, the film is based on a book written by Mazur titled The Infiltrator: My Secret Life Inside the Dirty Banks Behind Pablo Escobar's Medellín Cartel, published in 2009. In the book, Mazur details his time undercover with Escobar, starting in 1972, when he accepted the undercover assignment. His mission: to infiltrate the cartel as part of a money-laundering banking scheme in Tampa, Florida.

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The real Mazur has been a strong supporter of the movie. In fact, he wrote his book after working as a consultant on the 2006 film Miami Vice. After he told director Michael Mann about his undercover work, Mazur felt compelled to write his book and, one assumes, sell the rights for it to be made into a film. "It wasn't until I shared my story with one of the most creative minds in Hollywood, and heard his reaction, that I realized the immense power of this story," Mazur is quoted as saying on his official website.

Mazur worked closely with Cranston on the film, according to the actor. "He gave me tremendous insight on the details and the day-to-day and the monotony at times of what it was to follow through on these steps," Cranston said in an interview with ScreenRant. Just because Mazur helped the actors in The Infiltrator doesn't mean fans should expect to see the real agent make a cameo in the film. Mazur's work putting bad guys in prison has led him to keep a low profile. He doesn't appear on camera in interviews, and has his voice modified in an effort to keep his family safe. "He needs to protect himself and his family still, because he put a lot of people behind bars who hold a grudge, and they don't like that," Cranston revealed to ScreenRant.

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Mazur's involvement in the film doesn't mean audiences should take the movie as total fact, though. "Someone looking at this film might think the operation really did put a big, major dent in Pablo Escobar," Mazur said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times . "From my perspective, we were something like a bump on the highway."

The Infiltrator is a true story, but it's also a movie with a beginning, middle and an end. The real story of The Infiltrator is still ongoing.

Images: Broad Green Pictures