Benicio Del Toro: Hispanic Heritage Month Actor Highlights

Hispanic Heritage Month is in full effect, and today we highlight the iconic Oscar-winning Puerto Rican actor Benicio Del Toro.

Jesse Conner

By Jesse Conner

Benicio del Toro: Hispanic Heritage Month Actor Highlights

© Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / © Lucasfilm Ltd. /Courtesy Everett Collection

This actor has been in the Marvel universe, the Star Wars universe, and early in his career he even had a chance to go up against James Bond. He’s proved time and again to be quite the sharpshooter when the role asks for it. And he has pretty much every type of prestigious award you can get. On this day of Hispanic Heritage Month, we honor actor Benicio Del Toro.

How You Know Him

For many hardcore fans of Del Toro, they can’t help but see the mumbling wise guy Fred Fenster from his breakout performance in “The Usual Suspects.” Newer fans probably know Del Toro as the eccentric hoarder with white hair known in the MCU as the Collector. And there’s no doubt that any true fans have witnessed him as the A-list assassin in the “Sicario” films. Or the Mexican policeman with a conscience in "Traffic." His most recent film was the well-received Warner Bros. heist film "No Sudden Move," directed by his "Traffic" collaborator Steven Soderbergh and co-starring Don Cheadle. It's now available on HBO Max.

© Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

© Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

His Life So Far

Benicio Del Toro was born in 1967 in San Germán, Puerto Rico. He spent most of his childhood in a barrio within San Juan called Santurce. Del Toro was raised as a Roman Catholic. He attended a Catholic school called Academia del Perpetuo Socorro, which was located in Miramar, Puerto Rico.

After nabbing a few minor TV show appearances, he made his big-screen debut in “Big Top Pee-wee” in 1988. The following year, he earned the role of Dario in the James Bond film “License to Kill.” At the time, the 21-year-old Del Toro was praised as the youngest actor ever to play a Bond henchman.

© United Artists/courtesy Everett Collection

© United Artists/courtesy Everett Collection

In 1995, he secured his breakout role in “The Usual Suspects.” A few years later, Del Toro starred in the award-winning “Traffic.” The flick earned 4 Academy awards, one of which was for Del Toro for Best Supporting Actor. He also won a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

In 2013, he made his first appearance in the MCU in the mid-credits scene of “Thor: The Dark World.” This led to the reprisal of his role as The Collector in 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War.” Between filming these later projects, Del Toro took on the part of assassin Alejandro Gillick in 2015’s “Sicario.” He later returned as the empathetic hitman in the 2018 sequel.

The Movie to See

His iconic character the Collector is one that absolutely needs to be recognized. But for Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re going to point you to the film that earned him the title "Academy Award-winning actor Benicio Del Toro," which was “Traffic.” Del Toro takes on a character named Javier Rodriguez who’s an officer of the Mexican police.

© USA Films/courtesy Everett Collection

© USA Films/courtesy Everett Collection

After Javier becomes intertwined in various dark events in he drug underworld, he’s forced to play both sides of the law to ensure his own safety. He goes from being a cop to being employed by a corrupt general in the Mexican Army. Then, he starts working with the DEA against him. It's a fine line that Del Toro’s character walks. Either way, he’ll likely end up dead or in prison for life. With each situation, Javier does his best - agonizingly so - to find the proper way forward.

What's Up Next

This year, we’ve gotten to see his character the Collector make an appearance in the animated Disney+ show “What If…?” And he did the voice work for his MCU character. The upcoming role that we can’t wait to see is his performance in Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch.” He’ll be playing a crazed artist named Moses Rosenthaler.

© Searchlight Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

© Searchlight Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

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January 5, 2001

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Jesse Conner

Jesse is a writer and content manager for Noovie. When he's not working, he's on the beach playing volleyball.

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