Benicio Del Toro, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Ryan Gosling, Kevin Hart, Lady Gaga, Sam Smith, Charlize Theron, Jacob Tremblay, The Weeknd and Pharrell Williams will be presenters or performers at the 88th Oscar ceremony, producers David Hill and Reginald Hudlin announced Thursday.
Though the announcement didn’t specify, Lady Gaga, Sam Smith and the Weeknd will presumably perform their Oscar-nominated songs (from “The Hunting Ground,” “Spectre” and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” respectively).
“Each of these artists brings a wonderfully distinctive element to the Oscars stage,” said Hill and Hudlin. “Together they represent the many thrilling ways stories can be shared about the human experience, and we’re honored they will be part of the celebration.”
The Oscars, hosted by Chris Rock, will be held on Feb. 28, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network and in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
Benicio attended the 27th Annual Producers Guild Awards yesterday where he introduced clips of PGA nominees The Revenant and Sicario . You can check out pictures from the event in our gallery. Huge thanks to my friend Claudia at ellenpages.net for the help with pictures!
Benicio Del Toro is one of the most talented actors of his generation, with an onscreen smolder and sly sex appeal that’s all but peerless among his contemporaries. In the actor’s latest film A Perfect Day, he turns in another winning performance as Mambrú, an aid worker toiling in the Balkans during the Yugoslav Wars. I spoke to the actor via phone about the film, as well as his acting style, his music “addiction” and how Guardians of the Galaxy changed his life. Below you can find the highlights from our conversation.
He credits roles in films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars Episode VIII for giving him the freedom to make smaller movies like A Perfect Day.
“I’m lucky that I did that movie Guardians of the Galaxy, and I’m able to do independent movies like A Perfect Day and movies in between. That really gives me freedom, and I’m gonna be part of the Star Wars franchise. I’m to travel to England to shoot sometime in the spring.”
Since starring as The Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy, he has frequently been accosted by…collectors.
“What I’ve noticed is if I get accosted by some of these memorabilia collectors, they pull out a lot of pictures of The Collector for me to sign. That’s a difference that I’ve seen. The Collector kind of comes out and dominates some of the other film memorabilia that the people want me to sign.”
The key to his seemingly effortless acting style? Time.
“You gotta practice a lot. Meaning I’ve got 20-some years of me doing this in front of the camera, and I think I’m starting to understand it in a way…doing it for this long, you’re a little bit more comfortable in front of that camera. I don’t think it’s something that I work at, you know? That I really actually sit down or meditate or anything like that, but it’s something that over the years …you’ve been there, done that in a way, and you feel a little bit more comfortable. And it takes time to do that in film. It takes time to start feeling comfortable.”
He’s a music “addict.”
“I’m an addict. I’ve been listening to music since I was a kid and still do, and it does pump me up sometimes or relaxes me or helps me get through something. While we were doing this movie, the director [Fernando León de Aranoa] was a big fan of Bruce Springsteen and knew him well. So…I was listening to The River and also we were shooting in the south of Spain, and the south of Spain has [a lot of] flamenco, but also kind of like the lead singer of The Clash, Joe Strummer, lived and played down in Grenada, and lived in Spain and Grenada, and was there, so, you know, [we played] some Clash. The soundtrack [in the film] was great, I like that last song [near the end of the film]…with Marlene Dietrich doing that Pete Seeger song [‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’].”
CS: How did “A Perfect Day” begin for you?
Benicio Del Toro: I had met the director, Fernando León de Aranoa, in Spain six or seven years ago. I liked his work. I had seen three or four of his movies. We hit it off and then time went by and he sent the script my way. I read it and I felt the character was different from the characters I usually get. I also felt the movie was different. I took an interest, read it and said I would do it. Then I bumped into Tim Robbins at the airport and told him about it. I was going to Spain to promote a film, but I was also meeting with Fernando. I told Tim Robbins, “You should read this script. There’s a part that you would be really great for.” He said, “Yeah? Let me see it.” His agent got him a copy and by the time I went to spent, I told Fernando, “Tim would be perfect for this.” Tim jumped in and that was great. I’m a big, big fan of Tim, not just as an actor but as a director as well. So we went off to Spain to do it. When Tim became part of the team, that pretty much locked it.
CS: You’ve referred to the character that you play, Mambrú, as being in the “misfit phase” of his life. Could you explain to me a little bit more what you mean by that?
Benicio Del Toro: My character or Tim’s character?
CS: I think all the characters in this to some degree fit that description.
Benicio Del Toro: That’s true. But Tim’s character is way on the other side. He’s completely desensitized. My character kind of has one foot out the door and one foot in the door. I really think that he cares. The whole movie takes place in about two days. It’s hard to get a full synopsis of who he’s going to become in just two days. I think that, in a way, he really still cares. He has a little bit of the character of Sophie, played by Mélanie Thierry. My character is a little bit of her and little bit of Tim’s character put together. He’s kind of in the middle.
CS: There’s a very particular sense of humor in “A Perfect Day.” It’s almost reminiscent of Robert Altman’s “M*A*S*H” in its attitude towards the bureaucracy of war.
Benicio Del Toro: That’s one of the things that attracted me, that sense of humor. The mix of humor and the seriousness. That’s a challenge for the film and for the actors to walk that line and stay on that line. You don’t want to get ridiculously funny or too serious. That’s a challenge. That’s the difficult thing about the movie and the exciting thing as well. How do you keep that balance? It’s one thing for the director and the actors on set, but you also hope that when they go into the editing, they’ll also be walking that line.
CS: Is that a discussion that you have with your co-stars?
Benicio Del Toro: No. Well, you don’t exactly work it out with co-stars. When you read the script, you really can see it. Tim’s character, for example, is a little bit on the far, dangerous comedy place. He’s got the job of making that character seem real. We know that he’s going to be able to do that because he’s a great actor. My character is a little bit more like the anchor of the two extremes. I was looking at my character and trying to find out how to hold it all together so it doesn’t go too much one way or the other. Sometimes, though, you don’t know and you’ve got to go over the top. I don’t know how to describe it. You just hope you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by the best talent and then you try not to go too big. Then, sometimes, you go big and maybe big is better in that moment than what you thought. You hope that the director will allow you to explore and he did. He let us explore a bit.
CS: I don’t want to spoil exactly what happens, but the film has almost a punchline in its final shot.
Benicio Del Toro: That’s one of the things that I really liked about the film. The futility of effort. We are kind of that. We go through life. At some point, we’re all going to die. There’s this effort that, when given the question — and I don’t mean to get too existentialist — but the question is, “To be or not to be?” The answer is “To be.” You might do something, like these guys in this movie, who actually did the right thing. Even though their main obstacle was themselves in the end, for trying, they got rewarded. Or the people that they wanted to help got rewarded. There’s something great there. It’s one of the things in the script that I thought was cool. No one wins, but they also do win, but don’t know. I like characters that try and try and fail. But, just because you fail, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t the right thing to do.
Benicio Del Toro, the smoldering Puerto Rican star of such films as Traffic and last year’s Sicario, is next slated to star in a little movie called Star Wars: Episode VIII. Have you heard of it? Small film, something about space. While chatting with the actor about his forthcoming Kosovo War drama A Perfect Day, I took a moment to ask him about the role, because as a film journalist I feel it’s my duty to support independent cinema. Here are four little things I learned from our chat.
1. He’s scheduled to begin shooting in the early part of this year.
“I’m traveling to England to shoot sometime in the spring.”
2. Director Rian Johnson handpicked him for the role.
“I’m looking forward to working with Rian Johnson too, who was the one that reached out to me and had the idea of me playing the character that I’m gonna play. So that’s kinda nice.”
3. He finds the prospect of starring in the film “nerve-wracking.”
“It’s more surreal now, I’ll tell you that. I mean, after the success…not only at the box office, but the success of the quality of [Episode VII]. I really enjoyed the film…so it’s kind of nerve-wracking now, but I’m really happy to be part of it.”
4. He won’t deny that he’s playing a villain.
“You know, I’m not supposed to say, but that’s what’s out there, so I’m not gonna try and fight it.”
Star Wars: Episode VIII is slated for release on May 26, 2017.
Benicio and Tim are currently doing promotion for A Perfect Day for the US released on January 15. Following the shocking death of David Bowie, a journalist asked them about his influence.