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Benicio del Toro

Benicio del Toro at Cannes 2008
Born Benicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sánchez
February 19, 1967 (1967-02-19) (age 43)
Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Occupation Actor/Producer
Years active 1987–present

Benicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sánchez (born February 19, 1967), better known as Benicio del Toro, is a Puerto Rican actor and film producer. His awards include the Academy Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award and British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award. He is known for his roles as Fred Fenster in The Usual Suspects, Javier Rodríguez in Traffic, Jack 'Jackie Boy' Rafferty in Sin City, Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Franky Four Fingers in Snatch , Che Guevara in Che, and most recently for his role as Lawrence Talbot in The Wolfman. He is the third Puerto Rican to win an Academy Award.

Contents

Early life

Benicio del Toro was born and grew up in Santurce, Puerto Rico, a district of San Juan. He is the son of Gustavo Adolfo del Toro Bermúdez and Fausta Genoveva Sánchez Rivera, who were both lawyers.[1] He is of Spanish and Italian ancestry.[2] He has an older brother, Gustavo, who is a pediatric oncologist.[3] Del Toro's childhood nicknames were "Skinny Benny" and "Beno". He was raised a Catholic[4] and attended Academia del Perpetuo Socorro (The Academy of Our Lady of Perpetual Help), a Roman Catholic school in Miramar, Puerto Rico. When he was nine years old, his mother died of hepatitis.[3] At age 13, del Toro's father moved his two sons to Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, where del Toro was enrolled at the Mercersburg Academy. He spent his adolescence and attended high school there.[5]

After graduation, del Toro followed the advice of his father and pursued a degree in business at the University of California, San Diego.[5] Success in an elective drama course encouraged him to drop out of college and study with noted acting teachers Stella Adler and Arthur Mendoza, in Los Angeles, as well as at the Circle in the Square Theatre School, in New York City.[5]

Career

Del Toro began to surface in small television parts during the late 1980s, playing mostly thugs and drug dealers on programs like Miami Vice and the NBC miniseries Drug Wars: The Camarena Story. He had a cameo in Madonna's 1987 music video clip "La Isla Bonita" as a background character (the kid sitting on the car). Work in films followed, beginning with his debut in Big Top Pee-wee and in the 007 film Licence to Kill,[5] in which 21-year-old del Toro held the distinction of being the youngest actor ever to play a Bond villain. Although both films were considered box office disappointments, del Toro continued to appear in movies like The Indian Runner (1991), China Moon (1994), Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992), Money for Nothing (1993), Fearless (1993) and Swimming with Sharks (1994).

His career gained momentum in 1995 with his breakout performance in The Usual Suspects, where he played the mumbling, wisecracking Fred Fenster.[5] The role won him an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor and established him as a character actor. This led to more strong roles in independent and major studio films, including playing Gaspare in Abel Ferrara's The Funeral (1996) and winning a second consecutive Best Supporting Actor Independent Spirit Award for his work as Benny Dalmau in Basquiat (1996), directed by his friend, artist Julian Schnabel. Del Toro also shared the screen with Robert De Niro in the big budget thriller The Fan, in which he played Juan Primo, a charismatic Puerto Rican baseball star.

For Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the 1998 film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's famous book, he packed on more than 40 lbs. (about 18 kg) to play Dr. Gonzo (a.k.a. Oscar Zeta Acosta), Thompson's lawyer and drug-fiend cohort.[5] The surrealistic film, directed by Terry Gilliam, has earned a cult following over the years. Returning from a two-year hiatus after Fear and Loathing, del Toro would gain a mainstream audience in 2000 with a string of performances in four high-profile films. First up was The Way of the Gun, a crime yarn that reunited him with The Usual Suspects screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, making his directorial debut. A few months later, he stood out among a first-rate ensemble cast in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic, a complex dissection of the North American drug wars. As Javier Rodriguez — a Mexican border cop struggling to remain honest amid the corruption and deception of illegal drug trafficking — del Toro, who spoke most of his lines in Spanish, gave a performance that dominated the film and earned him his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.[5]

His praised work swept all of the major critics awards in 2001, as well as the Golden Globe, and the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor. In addition to the critical accolades, Traffic was also a success at the box office, bringing to del Toro real Hollywood clout for the first time in his career. While Traffic was still playing in theaters, two other del Toro films were released in late 2000/early 2001. He had a brief role as the diamond thief Franky Four Fingers in Guy Ritchie's hip caper comedy Snatch, and played a mentally-challenged Native American man in The Pledge, directed by his old friend Sean Penn.[5]

Benicio del Toro depicting revolutionary Che Guevara in the 2008 film Che. Del Toro was awarded the Best Actor Award at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and the 2009 Goya Award as the best Spanish Lead Actor for his role in the two-part biopic.

In 2003, del Toro appeared in two films: The Hunted, co-starring Tommy Lee Jones, and the drama 21 Grams, an acting tour-de-force, co-starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts. He went on to garner another Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his work in the latter.

His most recent roles were in the film adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel Sin City, directed by Robert Rodriguez, and Things We Lost in the Fire, the English language debut of celebrated Danish director Susanne Bier. Things We Lost in the Fire co-starred Halle Berry, Alison Lohman, and John Carroll Lynch.

In 2008, del Toro was awarded the Prix d'interpretation masculine (or Best Actor Award) for his characterization of Che Guevara in The Argentine and Guerrilla (together known as Che).[6] During his acceptance speech del Toro dedicated his award "to the man himself, Che Guevara" along with director Steven Soderbergh.[7] Del Toro was also awarded a 2009 Goya Award as the best Spanish Lead Actor for his depiction of Che.[8] Actor Sean Penn, who won an Oscar for his role in Milk, remarked that he was surprised and disappointed that Che and del Toro were not also up for any Academy Award nominations. During his acceptance speech for the Best Actor's trophy at the Screen Actors Guild Awards Penn expressed his dismay stating, "The fact that there aren't crowns on Soderbergh's and Del Toro's heads right now, I don't understand ... that is such a sensational movie, Che."[9] For the final portions of the film (shown here), del Toro shed 35 pounds to show how ill Guevara had become near the end of his life in the jungles of Bolivia.[10]

Benicio will be in Martin Scorsese's "Silence" with Daniel Day-Lewis and Gael García Bernal, due to be released in 2010. Filming began late 2009, in New Zealand. The movie is about two Jesuit priests, Sebastião Rodrigues (del Toro) and Fr. Francisco Garpe (García Bernal), who travel to 17th century Japan (disguised as civilians) under the Shogunate regime (which has isolated itself from all foreign contact) to see how the evangelical mission is going and to find their mentor Fr. Cristóvão Ferreira (Day-Lewis) who is accused of practicing apostasy. There they witness the persecution of Japanese Christians at the hands of their own government, which wishes to purge Japan of all Western influence. Eventually the priests separate and Rodrigues travels the countryside, wondering why God remains silent while His children suffer.

Del Toro starred in and produced the remake of Lon Chaney, Jr.'s classic cult film The Wolf Man.[11]

Academy Award

In 2001, del Toro won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Traffic, becoming the fourth living Oscar winner whose winning role was a character who speaks predominantly in a foreign language (most of del Toro's dialogue in Traffic is in Spanish). Del Toro is also the third Puerto Rican actor to win an Oscar, after Jose Ferrer and Rita Moreno.[5] The night he won his Oscar, it was the first time that two actors born in Puerto Rico were nominated in the same category. (The other actor was Joaquin Phoenix, who isn't of Puerto Rican descent.) In his acceptance speech, del Toro thanked the people of both Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora and dedicated his award to them. In 2004, Benicio del Toro was again nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, for his performance in the film 21 Grams.

Filmography

Films

Year Film Role Other notes
1988 Big Top Pee-wee Duke, the Dog-Faced Boy
1989 Licence to Kill Dario
1991 The Indian Runner Miguel Aguilera
1992 Christopher Columbus: The Discovery Alvaro Harana
1993 Fearless Manny Rodrigo
Huevos de oro Bob, the friend from Miami a.k.a Golden Balls
Money for Nothing Dino Palladino
1994 Swimming with Sharks Rex
China Moon Det. Lamar Dickey
1995 The Usual Suspects Fred Fenster Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
1996 The Funeral Gaspare Spoglia
The Fan Juan Primo
Cannes Man Himself Cameo appearance
Basquiat Benny Dalmau Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
Joyride Detective López
1997 Excess Baggage Vincent Roche Nominated - ALMA Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Crossover Role in a Feature Film
1998 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Dr. Gonzo aka Óscar Zeta Acosta
2000 Traffic Javier Rodríguez Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards - Favorite Supporting Actor - Drama
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actor
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Silver Bear for Best Actor
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
The Way of the Gun Longbaugh
Snatch Franky 'Four Fingers'
Bread and Roses Himself Cameo
2001 The Pledge Toby Jay Wadenah Nominated - ALMA Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
2003 21 Grams Jack Jordan Independent Spirit Awards - Special Distinction Award
International Cinephile Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Iowa Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
Venice Film Festival - Audience Award
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated - Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated - Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
The Hunted Aaron Hallam
2005 Sin City Jack 'Jackie Boy' Rafferty Nominated - ALMA Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
2007 Things We Lost in the Fire Jerry Sunborne
2008 Che Che Guevara 61st Annual Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Award
Goya Award for Best Actor
Nominated - Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
also producer (Guerilla)
2010 The Wolfman Lawrence Talbot/The Wolfman (also producer)
Silêncio Fr. Sebastião Rodrigues pre-production, leading role, first collaboration with director Martin Scorsese
The Three Stooges Moe Howard pre-production Confirmed

Short films

Year Title Role Notes
1995 Submission Director, writer and producer
2005 Trailer for a Remake of Gore Vidal's Caligula Naevius Sutorius Macro 5-minutes long
That's So New York Himself 3-minutes long

TV-Series

Year Title Episode Role
1987 Miami Vice Everybody's in Showbiz Pito
Private Eye Blue Movie
1990 Drug Wars: The Camarena Story All episodes Rafael Caro Quintero
1994 Tales from the Crypt The Bribe Bill
1995 Fallen Angels Good Housekeeping Paco

Awards

This list includes some awards of Benicio del Toro:

Year Award Nomination Film
1995 Independent Spirit Award Best Supporting Actor win The Usual Suspects
1996 Independent Spirit Award Best Supporting Actor win Basquiat
2000 Academy Award Best Supporting Actor win Traffic
Berlin International Film Festival Silver Bear for Best Actor win Traffic
British Academy Awards (BAFTA) Best Supporting Actor win Traffic
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor win Traffic
Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor win Traffic
National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor win Traffic
New York Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actor win Traffic
Screen Actors Guild Best Actor win Traffic
Toronto Film Critics Association Best Actor win Traffic
2003 Academy Award Best Supporting Actor nomination 21 Grams
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor nomination 21 Grams
L.A. Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor win 21 Grams
Screen Actors Guild Best Supporting Actor nomination 21 Grams
2008 Cannes Film Festival Best Actor win Che
Goya Awards Best Actor win Che

See also

References

External links








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