Spanish thesp squares off against Schwarzenegger

Spanish thesp Eduardo Noriega, who currently stars opposite Sam Shepard in the Butch Cassidy pic “Blackthorn,” is set to square off against Arnold Schwarzenegger in Lionsgate’s “Last Stand.”

South Korean helmer Kim Jee-Woon directs the action pic, which finds Schwarzenegger playing the sheriff of a sleepy little town who runs up against an escaped drug cartel leader heading for the Mexican border.

Noriega will play Cortez, a ruthless fugitive who plans to flee to Mexico in a Gumpert Apollo with $400 million.

Rodrigo Santoro, Jaimie Alexander, Peter Stormare and Zach Gilford co-star in the film, which is being produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura. Andrew Knauer wrote the original spec script that was subsequently rewritten by Jeffrey Nachmanoff and more recently, George Nolfi. Lionsgate has worldwide distribution rights on “Last Stand,” due to hit theaters Jan. 18, 2013. Production starts Oct. 20 in New Mexico.

Noriega, who’s best known for starring in Alejandro Amenabar’s “Open Your Eyes” and Guillermo del Toro’s “The Devil’s Backbone,” previously appeared in Brad Anderson’s “Transsiberian” and Pete Travis’ “Vantage Point.” Thesp also played the title character in Josh Evans’ 2005 indie pic “Che Guevara.”

Noriega is repped by Framework Entertainment and his longtime Spanish manager Jose Ramon Cadinanos.

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