Benicio Del Toro Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trade Mark (5)  | Trivia (44)  | Personal Quotes (11)

Overview (4)

Born in San Germán, Puerto Rico
Birth NameBenicio Monserrate Rafael Del Toro Sanchez
Nickname Beno
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Benicio Del Toro emerged in the mid-1990s as one of the most watchable and charismatic character actors to come along in years. A favorite of film buffs, Del Toro gained mainstream public attention as the conflicted but basically honest Mexican policeman in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic (2000).

Benicio was born on February 19, 1967 in San Germán, Puerto Rico, the son of lawyer parents Fausta Genoveva Sanchez Rivera and Gustavo Adolfo Del Toro Bermudez. His mother died when he was young, and his father moved the family to a farm in Pennsylvania. A basketball player with an interest in acting, he decided to follow the family way and study business at the University of California in San Diego. A class in acting resulted in his being bitten by the acting bug, and he subsequently dropped out and began studying with legendary acting teacher Stella Adler in Los Angeles and at the Circle in the Square Acting School in New York City. Telling his parents that he was taking courses in business, Del Toro hid his new studies from his family for a little while.

During the late 1980s, he made several television appearances, most notably in an episode of Miami Vice (1984) and in the NBC miniseries Drug Wars: The Camarena Story (1990). Del Toro's big-screen career got off to a slower start, however--his first role was Duke the Dog-Faced Boy in Big Top Pee-wee (1988). However, things looked better when he landed the role of Dario, the vicious henchman in the James Bond film License to Kill (1989). Surprising his co-stars at age 21, Del Toro was the youngest actor ever to portray a Bond villain. However, the potential break was spoiled as the picture turned out to be one of the most disappointing Bond films ever; this was lost amid bigger summer competition.

Benicio gave creditable performances in many overlooked films for the next several years, such as The Indian Runner (1991), Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992) and Money for Nothing (1993). His roles in Fearless (1993) and China Moon (1994) gained him more critical notices, and 1995 proved to be the first "Year of Benicio" as he gave a memorable performance in Swimming with Sharks (1994) before taking critics and film buffs by storm as the mumbling, mysterious gangster in The Usual Suspects (1995), directed by Bryan Singer. Del Toro won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role in the Oscar-winning film.

Staying true to his independent roots, he next gave a charismatic turn as cold-blooded gangster Gaspare Spoglia in The Funeral (1996) directed by Abel Ferrara. He also appeared as Benny Dalmau in Basquiat (1996), directed by artist friend Julian Schnabel. That year also marked his first truly commercial film, as he played cocky Spanish baseball star Juan Primo in The Fan (1996), which starred Robert De Niro. Del Toro took his first leading man role in Excess Baggage (1997), starring and produced by Alicia Silverstone. Hand-picked by Silverstone, Del Toro's performance was pretty much the only thing critics praised about the film, and showed the level of consciousness he was beginning to have in the minds of film fans.

He took a leading role with his good friend Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), co-written and directed by the legendary Terry Gilliam. Gaining 40 pounds for the role of Dr. Gonzo, the drug-addicted lawyer to sportswriter Raoul Duke, Benicio immersed himself totally in the role. Using his method acting training so far as to burn himself with cigarettes for a scene, this was a trying time for Del Toro. The harsh critical reviews proved tough on him, as he felt he had given his all for the role and been dismissed. Many saw the crazed, psychotic performance as a confirmation of the rumors and overall weirdness that people seemed to place on Del Toro.

Taking a short break after the ordeal, 2000 proved to be the second "Year of Benicio". He first appeared in The Way of the Gun (2000), directed by friend and writer Christopher McQuarrie. Then he went to work for actor's director Steven Soderbergh in Traffic (2000). A complex and graphic film, this nonetheless became a widespread success and Oscar winner. His role as conflicted Mexican policeman Javier Rodriguez functions as the movie's real heart amid an all-star ensemble cast, and many praised this as the year's best performance, a sentiment validated by a Screen Actor's Guild Award for "Best Actor". He also gave a notable performance in Snatch (2000) directed by Guy Ritchie, which was released several weeks later, and The Pledge (2001) directed by Sean Penn. Possessing sleepy good looks reminiscent of James Dean or Marlon Brando, Del Toro has often jokingly been referred to as the "Spanish Brad Pitt".

With his newfound celebrity, Del Toro has become a sort of heartthrob, being voted one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" as well as "Most Eligible Bachelors." A favorite of film fans for years for his diverse and "cool guy" gangster roles, he has become a mainstream favorite, respected for his acting skills and choices. So far very careful in his projects and who he works with, Del Toro can boast an impressive resume of films alongside some of the most influential and talented people in the film business.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Brian Stewart

Trade Mark (5)

Deep raspy voice
Slurred mumbling voice and odd mannerisms
Frequently portrays dark, tragic characters
Frequently plays moral characters in harsh environments
Dark circles under his eyes

Trivia (44)

Son of Gustavo Del Toro and Fausta Sanchez Rivera (both lawyers).
Passionate about oil painting.
He was sent to boarding school in Pennsylvania when he was age 13.
Has one older brother, Gustavo Del Toro, who is a physician in the United States.
His mother, Fausta Sanchez Del Toro, died of hepatitis when he was age nine.
His family urged him to become a lawyer because they felt there was no future in acting.
Studied at the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting on a scholarship.
Attended the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), but did not graduate.
Burned himself with cigarettes repeatedly for the elevator scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) because the real Oscar Zeta Acosta did as well. The shots of the burn were deleted.
Reportedly turned down the role of Frida Kahlo's husband Diego Rivera in Frida (2002) because of the weight gain that would be required, despite that earlier, for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), he had gained 40 pounds for his character.
He was offered the role of Reinaldo Arenas in Before Night Falls (2000), which eventually went to Javier Bardem. He turned down the role to be in friend Christopher McQuarrie's The Way of the Gun (2000).
Attended and graduated from Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania (1985). He was a basketball star and artist there, but not an actor.
He badly injured his wrist during a stunt fight during the filming of William Friedkin's The Hunted (2003). He fell on his wrist as he dove for a knife and actor Tommy Lee Jones fell on top of him. He was injured so badly that he was out of work for months, even though the film was virtually completed. He required three hours of therapy daily and reportedly there is a question whether he will regain full use of the wrist.
"Del Toro" means "of the bull" in Spanish.
Received the 2003 Audience Award for Best Actor at the Venice International Film Festival for his role in 21 Grams (2003).
Is the third Puerto Rican actor to receive an Academy Award. The other two were: Rita Moreno (West Side Story (1961)) and José Ferrer (Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)).
Benny Dalmau's last name (his character in Basquiat (1996)) came from Raymond Dalmau, a Puerto Rican basketball player in the 1970s and early 1980s. Raymond Dalmau wore the shirt Benicio wears in the film when he was in the Puerto Rican National Selection.
Had a long-term relationship with Chiara Mastroianni (1998-2001).
Before moving to Pennsylvania, he was a student at Academia del Perpetuo Socorro in Miramar, Puerto Rico.
Because of his pay-or-play deal, he was paid $5 million for American Gangster (2007). The film was due to start shooting in October 2004 - with Denzel Washington co-starring - but Universal Pictures postponed it because of budgetary concerns. The film eventually got the green light in 2006, with Ridley Scott replacing Antoine Fuqua as director.
Is one of five Oscar winners - for Best Supporting Actor in Traffic (2000) - to play a character that spoke mostly in a foreign language. Most of his dialog was in Spanish. The other are Sophia Loren, Robert De Niro, Roberto Benigni and Marion Cotillard.
He was considered for the lead role of Eddie Kagle in Angel on My Shoulder (2005), a role that was played by Paul Muni in Angel on My Shoulder (1946). Producers not only wanted him for his amazing talent, but also for his close resemblance to Muni.
At 21 years old, he is the youngest person ever to portray a villain in a James Bond movie: Dario in License to Kill (1989).
Cousin of Joshue Del Toro and Rebeca.
He and his ex-girlfriend Claire Forlani have both appeared in films featuring Ryan Phillippe: Claire in Antitrust (2001) and Benicio in The Way of the Gun (2000). They have also both appeared in films with Brad Pitt: Claire in Meet Joe Black (1998) and Benicio in Snatch (2000). Claire and Benicio acted together in Basquiat (1996).
Has appeared with his ex-girlfriend, Valeria Golino, in three films: Big Top Pee-wee (1988), The Indian Runner (1991) and Submission (1995). They had a long-term relationship from 1988 to 1992.
Had a cameo as a background character in Madonna's music video "La Isla Bonita" (1987).
Good friends with Johnny Depp. They worked together in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998).
Mark Ruffalo was a fellow student at the Stella Adler Conservatory in Los Angeles.
His father owned the property across the street from his childhood home and turned it into a full-size basketball court so he and his brother Gustavo could practice and play with their friends. The property has since been built into a condominium.
Currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
Vocalist Macy Gray is one of his huge fans. They were born the same year.
Is a huge fan of the Fulham Football Club (English Premier League soccer club). Fellow fans include Elizabeth Hurley, Lily Allen, Pierce Brosnan, Hugh Grant, Hugh Laurie, Daniel Radcliffe, Andrew Johnston and the late Michael Jackson.
Became a father for the first time at age 44 when Kimberly Stewart gave birth to his daughter Delilah Genoveva Stewart Del Toro on August 21, 2011.
Is one of five Academy Award winning actors to play a James Bond villain. The other four are Christopher Walken, Javier Bardem, Christoph Waltz and Rami Malek. Benicio is the only one not to play a main villain and to play a villain before winning his Oscar.
He was considered for the role of John Harrison in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), but eventually declined due to monetary issues. The role went to Benedict Cumberbatch.
Received an honorary degree from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico for his impact on the cinema enterprise, during the celebration of the university's centennial. [March 2012]
He was the front-runner to play Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999), which he turned down after the screenplay was rewritten and the role was considerably reduced. The role went to Ray Park.
Has worked with four directors who have won a Best Director Oscar: Steven Soderbergh, William Friedkin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Oliver Stone.
Has appeared with Josh Brolin in five films: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Inherent Vice (2014), Sicario (2015), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018).
Benicio and longtime friend Josh Brolin were once told by then Miramax Films executive Meryl Poster, that they were the worst auditioners she had ever witnessed.
Neighbors with Rade Serbedzija.
His maternal great-grandfather, Rafaél Rivera Esbri, was one of the heroes of the El Polvorin fire in Ponce in 1899. He was later Mayor of Ponce, from 2 January, 1915 to 2 January, 1917.
Alumnus of Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

Personal Quotes (11)

Before I was ever in high school, I had dark circles under my eyes. The rumor was I was a junkie. I have dark circles under my eyes, deal with it.
My career went into the hole after Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). People might have seen what they saw on screen and subconsciously, people in the business might have taken what they saw literally. I think people thought, "He got fat. He got weird. His mumbling increased tenfold." I was trying to do an interpretation of a masterpiece of a book, and that's what the character was - an animal!
I like anything that's three-dimensional, anything I can believe in - even if it's fantastic, surreal or from another planet.
I like to keep growing. I haven't gotten anywhere, as far as I'm concerned.
I'd like to do completely different roles - a romantic lead, for example. I'd like to be dressed up in a suit and get the girl at the end of the movie.
I see The Usual Suspects (1995) as the time where I was, quote unquote, discovered. It took me six, seven years to get to that place. And it was not easy. You're fighting with people who doubt you and your choice of career. There are a lot of doubts - and you have to stay focused with what you want. I never put a time limit on me being successful or not. I just cared about the work as an actor. But it wasn't easy because there were a lot of ups and downs. I don't know if you know much about baseball, but baseball is the game of failure. You deal with failure - strike, strike, strike - all the time. Acting is like that. You have to have a very thick skin in a way - your hair is too dark, you're too ugly for the part, your audition wasn't good.
I do get more recognized now. If I go to dinner, people look at me more now and whisper. But as an actor, I would be no one without the people who come and see me. So it would be ridiculous for it to bother me. It just bothers me when I'm intoxicated.
My goal as an actor has always been to reach a level where I can find a lot of interesting work, and I think I'm at that point now. The Oscar has given me a lot of recognition, but I think Traffic (2000) alone would have done a lot for me. It's the kind of role you die for because a lot of people are going to focus on your work. It gives you a very high profile.
I used to play basketball and I was pretty competitive, but I was never a bad loser. I never got angry. For me, it was always about doing my best and devoting myself to a challenge. Sometimes that will cut it, other times it won't. But I'm someone who remains faithful to my dreams. That's how I looked at acting, even though I knew it would be tough going at first. I didn't think about the money, I've always lived simply. I just need my books and I can get by.
I like to take things very slowly. When you start to become a movie star, it's easy to believe that you are Superman. That can fool you. That's why I prefer not to pay much attention to fame. The truth is that I don't give it much thought. I don't suffer. I don't hang my photographs on the wall. Without realizing it, you can enter a vicious circle and think that you really are a superhero. That's the moment when you get yourself in real trouble.
It's funny, but when I arrived in California to start college, I was much more interested in becoming a surfer and cruise along in life from one beach to the next. I didn't plan out any huge career for myself. Now that I see that I have this career and it's worked out for me, it still feels like I'm surfing, only that it's on a different level. I feel very free and that's all that I've ever wanted out of life.

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