Benicio del Toro Source
September 12, 2014 Interview, Paradise Lost

Pablo Escobar is one of the most ruthless people in history. Growing up poor in Colombia, he rose to become the world’s biggest cocaine distributor, building his vast fortune on the bodies of competitors and bribes of policemen and politicians. At his height, he controlled real estate, billions of dollars, and his own personal army.

As far as historical figures go, Escobar’s story is ripe for a big-screen adaptation. He even went out like a movie villain: In 1993, Colombian forces killed Escobar in a hail of Scarface-esque gunfire. But a good story doesn’t always mean it’s ready for Hollywood.

Previous attempts, including one by Oliver Stone and another by Joe Carnahan, have been left in the dust. Surprisingly, it took the gumption of a first-time feature director named Andrea Di Stefano to finally take on and release the tale of Pablo onto the world. But instead of a straight biopic, the Italian filmmaker decided to attack the project from a unique angle: by observing Escobar’s callousness and power through the eyes of two fictionalized doe-eyed lovers (Josh Hutcherson and Claudia Traisac), one of whom happens to be the niece of the man in charge.

When it came to casting Escobar, Di Stefano had to find a strong actor who could embody the brutality of the late kingpin. His first choice: actor Benicio Del Toro, who knows a thing or two about portraying historical figures, having done so for Steven Soderbergh in the film Che.

“I think he’s one of the most talented actors who ever existed,” Di Stefano tells The Daily Beast. “I really believe that there are few actors in American cinema after the Second World War who can play these kind of characters. There’s Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, De Niro, Pacino [and Del Toro].” In Paradise Lost, Del Toro completely embodies the terrifying nature of his real-life counterpart, while also balancing out Escobar’s more charitable side: the one who donated to schools and helped build soccer fields, the one some Colombians still hail as a saint.

I sat down with Del Toro ahead of the premiere of Paradise Lost at the Toronto International Film Festival to talk about his transformation into the infamous kingpin, the horror Escobar inflicted on his own family and people, and the strange duality between being considered a villain and a hero. Del Toro also spent some time reflecting on the overwhelming success of Guardians of the Galaxy (he portrayed The Collector) along with not knowing who Howard the Duck is.

There are many different opinions when it comes to Pablo Escobar. Some consider him a saint, others a murderer. Some both. Where do you go for research when there are competing opinions?
Well, you try to understand those who understand him as some kind of saint. You try to understand why some people go that way, and why they consider him the devil. And then you draw from that. But it is clear why they consider him some Robin Hood and others considered him the devil. The bad stuff he did outweighs the good.

Yeah, on one hand he donated to schools, helped the poor and communities…
He helped the communities, built neighborhoods for poor people, gave them housing, built many soccer fields. He understood people in a poor country. He understood the needs of the people. When he started he was bringing in, not drugs, he was kind of bringing in merchandise; sneaking it into the country from other places. And he started to include whatever his profit was to give a percentage to the workers, and the workers immediately liked him because the guy before him didn’t do that. He just paid the workers a flat fee, nothing really, and he got all the wealth. So Pablo started to share some of the gains with the workers so the workers wanted to work with him, because he was fair.

In the beginning he seemed to be a combination politician/businessman/philanthropist.
Right, and then a killer [Laughs].
Ha, well, yet, that too. His sense of competition quickly turned into eliminating the opposition. And then eventually he made a mistake for his own sake, the fact that he ran for politics. That I think was his downfall. And the rest is history, because he basically declared war on a country.

Then there was the international manhunt later.
Yeah, he brought the country down to its knees. He got the country to do basically what he wanted to do. Because they were trying to extradite him to America. America wanted him but he managed to stop that and he turned himself in. He goes to jail but that was a jail that he controlled.

It’s interesting it’s taken this long to see Pablo Escobar on the big screen. There have been many projects in the works, one of which was from Oliver Stone. Did you and him ever talk about Pablo while you were shooting Savages?
I think we did talk a little bit about it. I think he did have a project, and I actually did talk to him about that project that he had. But it’s all about what angle you’re going to take with Pablo Escobar. And I thought the angle with this project, which is fiction, was interesting. The fact that you could go into this family man and really reveal a charming man or a man you can like, and then suddenly he’s a nightmare. I think that Andrea’s story is grounded in almost everything that we see Pablo doing. I thought that added to this Pablo Escobar story. Because it’s not really his story. I mean, it is his story, but it’s seen through the eyes of someone who’s engaged to his niece. So that was the angle that I think this movie had that made me want to jump into it.

Read the rest of the interview


September 12, 2014 Paradise Lost, Video

You can watch the full Paradise Lost Press Conference at 2014 Toronto International Film Festival below.




September 12, 2014 Gallery, Paradise Lost, Public Appearances

I have added photos of Benicio attending ‘Paradise Lost’ Premiere during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival last night and posing with fans for pictures.


September 11, 2014 Article, Interview

torontosun.com – Benicio Del Toro would love to add another Marvel movie to his collection.

The Oscar-winning actor, who plays Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar in the Toronto International Film Festival thriller Escobar: Paradise Lost, was most recently seen as the enigmatic Collector in Marvel’s summer sci-fi blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy.

“I really enjoyed working with them, and I think they really enjoyed working with me,” said Del Toro, whose character operates a bizarre combination of an intergalactic museum, zoo and prison. “I enjoyed working with James Gunn, the director, very much, and the cast – Chris (Pratt), Zoe (Saldana), and the raccoon and the tree. Groot!”

Del Toro, whose long resume includes The Usual Suspects, Sin City and his Oscar-winning performance in 2000’s Traffic, says he doesn’t yet know if he’ll be in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, slated to come out in the summer of 2017. But he’s hoping his white-haired oddball alter-ego will be in at least one more Marvel movie.

“With James, it was kind of like you don’t know which way to go with the Collector,” he said. “So now I think I get him a little bit better, so I hope I get a chance to do it and explore the character in different ways. I know that he can be in other Marvel movies.”

The Collector was actually the first character from the Guardians’ universe to show up in a Marvel film, when Del Toro played him in Thor: The Dark World’s post-credits scene. The Collector also shows up in Guardians of the Galaxy’s own much-talked about credits scene – spoilers ahead if you still haven’t seen it – in which he is sitting in the ruins of his museum, being consoled by Cosmo the Russian space dog. Someone speaks from off-camera, and suddenly the shot shifts to reveal classic Marvel character Howard the Duck.

Del Toro admits he didn’t know who Howard the Duck was when he was shooting the scene. In fact, he didn’t even know what the scene was going to be until he saw it in its finished form.

“No one told me Howard the Duck was going to be in that scene,” he said with a laugh. “I was there with the dog, and that’s it.”


September 11, 2014 Gallery, Photoshoot

I have added 2 new photoshoots thanks to Nicole at lily-james.org!


Gallery Links:
Photoshoots > Session 086
Photoshoots > Session 087


September 11, 2014 Gallery, Photoshoot, Public Appearances

I have added 8 new portraits from TIFF.


September 11, 2014 Gallery, Paradise Lost, Public Appearances

I have added photos of Benicio at the Paradise Lost Press Conference at TIFF yesterday.


September 11, 2014 Gallery, Photoshoot, Public Appearances

Benicio is attending TIFF to promote Paradise Lost. New portraits from the Festival have been added to the gallery.


Gallery Links:
Public Appearances > 2014 > [September 10] 2014 Toronto International Film Festival – Guess Portrait Studio
Public Appearances > 2014 > [September 10] 2014 Toronto International Film Festival – Portraits