your online source of news and photos
Welcome to Benicio del Toro Source, your largest resource dedicated to the talented Benicio del Toro. You may know Benicio from Traffic, The Usual Suspects, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Snatch, Che or Sicario. Benicio current projects include Sicario: Day of the Soldado and Escape at Dannemora. This fansite bring you the most up-to-date news, articles, photos, and more.  
Benicio Del Toro’s long Latino battle

Source: Herald Sun
Date: October 18, 2012

In the early days of his acting career, like many Latino actors, most of the parts Benicio Del Toro was offered were for drug dealers, thugs and criminals.

His breakthrough film role was as the youngest ever Bond henchman, the vicious, knife-wielding, coke-peddling South American Dario, in the 1989 Timothy Dalton vehicle Licence To Kill.

Twenty-three years later, Del Toro is back in Oliver Stone’s new film, Savages, playing Lado, an even more vicious, gun-wielding, dope-peddling Mexican villain.

In fact, Del Toro agrees they could just about be the same character a couple of decades apart.

“That’s a picture of Lado when he was 20,” the languid, laidback Del Toro says of recently watching his Bond performance again.

“I’d like to think I am a better actor than I was then – and a little bit less skinny and better looking.

“It’s freaky when you see yourself being a kid like that and I thought ‘I have grown up in this business, in Hollywood. That’s crazy’.”

Plenty has happened to the Puerto Rico-born Del Toro in between.

He has carved out a varied and respected career that includes hits such as The Usual Suspects, Snatch and Sin City, as well as endearing himself to the critics with an Oscar-nominated turn in the 2003 drama 21 Grams and a Best Supporting Actor Oscar win for his role as an honest Mexican cop in Steven Soderbergh’s sprawling 2000 drug war drama, Traffic.

His dark, smouldering looks and raspy voice have also earned him heartthrob status and he has been romantically linked to beauties including Valeria Golino, Claire Forlani, Heather Graham and, famously, Scarlett Johansson.

These days, however, he says his Lothario days are behind him and he is dedicated to raising his daughter with Kimberley Smith, Delilah.

The pair are no longer together, but Del Toro says he is in for the “long game”, describing parenthood as “a beautiful thing”.

But if life has changed dramatically for Del Toro, it seems that Hollywood has stayed about the same.

While he agrees there are now more opportunities for Latino actors than when he started out, he still has to battle against typecasting despite his glittering CV and accolades.

“I don’t want to get bogged down on that because it’s not black and white,” Del Toro says of the tendency to relegate Latino actors to drug enforcers and gangsters.

“Movies borrow from real stories and there are a lot of real stories from this war on drugs and it so happens that the origins of a lot of those stories are in Latin American countries.

“Traffic is an example of looking at it from a different way, where there is a Latino cop trying to live by the rules within the war and the struggles of that. But Hollywood tends to look at it from the other side.”

The reason he signed up to tread such a well-worn path in Savages was Oliver Stone.

The film centres around a couple of young, successful Californian dope dealers, Buddhist Ben and army vet Chon (played by Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch), who fall foul of a ruthless Mexican cartel.

When the cartel kidnaps the girlfriend they share (Blake Lively), the duo must decide how far they will go to get her back.

Del Toro’s character is the cartel’s enforcer – shifty, violent and ruthless – and the actor thought that if anyone could breathe new life into what could be tired stereotype, it would be Oscar-winner Stone.

“He doesn’t pull any punches and I respect that,” Del Toro says. “He is not just saying the bad guys are the Mexicans.”

Del Toro and Stone took a road trip together to the Mexican border town of Tijuana, where they met some shady characters who had either been in drug cartels or were in the periphery of the business.

While the jaunt added useful colour with stories of the filthy-rich big shots who kept private zoos or owned their own islands, Del Toro says he more valued the chance to get to know Stone as a person, as opposed to a “five-star general who is always right”.

Stone, director of Wall Street, Platoon, JKF and Nixon, has an on-set reputation as a hard task-master at best, and a bully at worst.

Michael Douglas, who Stone berated and cajoled to an Oscar in Wall Street, says of the director: “He pushes you; God bless him, but he pushes you.”

Natural Born Killers star Woody Harrelson says he wanted to punch the director on occasion and World Trade Center’s Michael Pena admiringly describes him as “a mad man”.

Del Toro acknowledges that Stone works his actors hard – sometimes to the point of antagonism – but says he is no bully.

“He pushed me and forced me to be on my toes,” Del Toro says. “And by him forcing me to be on my toes, I forced him to be on his toes.

“That’s what he wants. He wants you to also react.

“But he wasn’t a bully. He listened. It’s a two-way street. He didn’t mind if you pushed back and that’s why he isn’t a bully.

“I became pretty ballsy – I’d call him on a Sunday and say ‘I don’t understand this f–king line. What the f—? Explain it to me’.”

Stone, as a long-time and enthusiastic dope smoker, is a passionate advocate of the legalisation of marijuana.

A barely hidden theme of Savages is that if the drug was freely available, the corruption and violence surrounding it would all but disappear.

It’s a point of view Del Toro, who has seen medical marijuana dispensaries crop up around his Westwood home in recent years, has come around as well.

“I think that marijuana grows in the ground and helps many people in need,” Del Toro reasons. “Why should it be treated like it’s a hell drug when it’s not as bad as alcohol?

“If you drink a lot of alcohol and smoke a lot of marijuana, you are going to have the same problems. Why not control it and have the government tax it and use that money for good things?

“They say the problem with it is that is will lead to other drugs. Let me tell you something: alcohol is the same thing. You give a 10-year-old shots of tequila and by 13 he will be doing crack.”