BENICIO DEL TORO Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Benicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sánchez                                     
Born: 19 February 1967 Santurce, Puerto Rico                                         
Benicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sánchez (born February 19, 1967) is an           
Academy Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award and British Academy     
of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award winning Puerto Rican actor and film         
producer. He is best known for his roles as Fred Fenster in The Usual Suspects,       
Javier Rodriguez Rodriguez in Traffic and Jack 'Jackie Boy' Rafferty in Sin City.     
Del Toro was born in Miramar, Santurce, Puerto Rico; his parents, Gustavo Adolfo     
del Toro Bermúdez and Fausta Sánchez Rivera, were both lawyers. He has an           
older brother, Gustavo, who is a pediatric oncologist. Del Toro's childhood           
nicknames were "Skinny Benny" and "Beno". He was raised Catholic 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. At the age of thirteen, 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 high school there.                 
After graduation, del Toro followed the advice of his father and pursued a           
degree in business at the University of California, San Diego. 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.                                 
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. Work in films           
followed, beginning with his debut in Big Top Pee-wee and in the 007 film             
Licence to Kill, 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 (1991), 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. 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 Mexican         
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.           
Del Toro's performance divided critics and audiences. Even though del Toro has       
told interviewers this was a low point in his career[citation needed], Terry         
Gilliam's surrealistic film has earned a cult following over the years.               
Returning from a self-imposed 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.                       
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.                     
All of this attention helped to cement Benicio's status as a sex symbol. He was       
placed on People magazine's annual "50 Most Beautiful People" list. While his         
looks have led to comparisons with Marlon Brando and James Dean, he has been         
jokingly referred as the "Spanish Brad Pitt". 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 2001, del Toro became the fourth Oscar winner whose winning role was a             
character who speaks predominantly in a foreign language (most of del Toro's         
dialogue is in Spanish). Sophia Loren, Robert De Niro, and Roberto Benigni are       
the other three. Del Toro is also the third Puerto Rican actor to win an Oscar.       
The other two were actors Jose Ferrer and Rita Moreno. 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 for his role in