BENICIO DEL TORO Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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Born in Puerto Rico on February 19, 1967, Benicio was the son of lawyer parents Gustavo and Fausta Sanchez Del Toro. 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 folow the family way and study business at the University of California in San Diego. Changed major to acting so he could audition for a role in a school production. Decided to pursue acting full time so he left school and moved to New York City. Studied at Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York. Won a scholarship to The Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting where he studied for three-four years. During the late 80s he made a few TV appearances, most notably on an episode of “Miami Vice” and in the NBC miniseries “Drug Wars: The Kiki Camarena Story". Del Toro had a tougher go on the silver screen, he followed up his forgettable Pee-Wee debut with a role in the mediocre James Bond flick License To Kill (1989). Two years later, he snagged a small part in Sean Penn’s warmly received directorial debut effort, The Indian Runner. Del Toro received his next paycheck for his performance as a thoroughly despicable rapist in the laughably awful Christopher Columbus-as-swashbuckler debacle Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. In spite of such career dead-ends, the game young actor managed to stay afloat with convincing supporting performances in such creditable dramas as Fearless and China Moon. His persistence was finally rewarded in 1995: the year began with a small role alongside Kevin Spacey in the bitter-pill Hollywood satire Swimming With Sharks.


In 1996, Del Toro parlayed his newfound celebrity into substantial roles in three films. He resurrected the oft-donned gangster persona of his early career to play a vengeful crime lord in Abel Ferrara’s noirish art-house crime drama The Funeral, and then turned in a well-received portrayal of Benny Dalmau, faithful friend to the late American painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, in Basquiat. Del Toro appeared in the film for free as a favor to painter and first-time director Julian Schnabel, a close personal friend of his. To stay afloat financially, Del Toro accepted the role of a self-obsessed baseball player who dies at the hands of a psychotic knife salesman (played by the Grand Poobah of all nutcase portrayers, Robert De Niro) in the half-baked baseball thriller The Fan. Del Toro managed to put the experience behind him by landing his first starring role, opposite It-girl Alicia Silverstone, in the 1997 kidnap farce Excess Baggage. Silverstone, who pulled double-duty as both the film’s leading lady and producer, handpicked Del Toro to play her romantic counterpart after being wowed by his turn in The Usual Suspects. Now living in Los Angeles, Del Toro maintains a low profile between movies, and has thus far managed to avoid becoming entangled in any celebrity romances. His screenwriting and directing debut short Submission, which starred a pre-celebrity Matthew McConaughey, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 1995.