Benjamin Bratt to Channel Guitar God Carlos Santana for Biopic

Benjamin Bratt has built a career playing military men, cops and other tipos serios, but he's totally breaking type for his newest role! Word is that Bratt and his brother Peter, who directed him in the recent indie La Mission, are working with Latino guitar god Carlos Santana to shape a biopic—to be released in 2011—with Ben in the lead role.

Though Bratt, who is famously straight-laced and scandal-free, might not seem like the most obvious choice to play Santana, the two actually have San Francisco childhoods in common and socially conscious streaks. The same year that Santana played Woodstock (1968), a young Ben accompanied his Peruvian Indian mom to a Native American occupation of Alcatraz. Plus, Ben has also already portrayed an artist onscreen: Remember 2001’s Piñero, in which he played the drug-addled-but-brilliant Puerto Rican poet-playwright?

One thing is for sure, this will be a meaty role for Ben. Personally and professionally, the Mexican-born Santana, the man behind such classics as “Oye Como Va,” “Black Magic Woman,” “Smooth” and “Maria Maria” has been through it all: a childhood spent in grinding poverty, sexual abuse by a male adult, drug addiction, a spiritual rebirth and a late-career comeback—not to mention a second career designing women’s shoes.

Tell us: What do you think about the casting choice?