Benicio del Toro: Award Winning Actor Extraordinaire

Puerto Rican actor and film producer, Benicio del Toro, has a string of awards to his credit, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, as well as an award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). This hard working and well respected actor has recently starred in “The Argentine” and “Guerrilla”, and fans can look forward to seeing him in “The Wolf Man”, currently being filmed and due for release in 2009.

Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, on 19 February 1967, Benicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sánchez is the younger of the two sons of Gustavo Adolfo del Toro Bermúdez and Fausta Sánchez Rivera. He attended school in Miramar, Puerto Rico, until the age of thirteen, when his father decided to move his two boys with him to Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, USA. Sadly, del Toro’s mother had passed away when he was only nine years old. Del Toro attended the Mercersburg Academy through his high school years. Following high school graduation, del Toro attended the University of California, San Diego, with the intention of obtaining a business degree and possibly following in the footsteps of both his parents by becoming a lawyer. However, his goals changed dramatically when he had a taste of the entertainment world during an elective drama course. He dropped out of college and pursued an acting career under the tutelage of noted Los Angeles-based drama teachers Arthur Mendoza and Stella Adler. He also gained experience at the Circle in the Square Theater School in New York.

With his newly acquired acting skills and a determination to pursue a career he was enjoying, in the late 1980s del Toro began to appear in small parts on television shows. His dark and brooding good looks led to him being cast primarily as a drug-dealer or a thug, such as his roles on Miami Vice and the NBC miniseries Drug Wars: The Camarena Story. He also appeared as a background character in Madonna’s 1987 music video clip “La Isla Bonita”. It wasn’t long before del Toro’s abundant acting talent resulted in film parts. His role as the villain in the 007 film Licence to Kill gave him the distinction of, at the age of 21, being the youngest actor ever to play the villain in a James Bond film. His role as Fred Fenster in the 1995 film, The Usual Suspects, highlighted his ability as a character actor. The role won him an Independent Spirit Award, and proved to be the breakthrough that gave his career momentum – that just keeps going.

Upon receiving an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Traffic, del Toro became the third Puerto Rican actor to win an Oscar, after Rita Moreno and Jose Ferrer. For his role in Gladiator, fellow Puerto Rican Joaquin Phoenix, had been in the running for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar that was awarded to Benicio Del Toro on that memorable night.

With twenty-eight feature films, three short films and four television series on his résumé, there is no doubt that Benicio del Toro has made his mark in the entertainment world.