Actor Benicio del Toro has appeared in some of the world’s biggest film franchises, but he’s so much more than just the roles on his resume. According to Hello, del Toro was born in Puerto Rico, but later moved to Pennsylvania after the death of his mother. Benicio del Toro is not married, but he does have a child with former girlfriend Kimberly Stewart.
On screen, del Toro is known for award-winning work, having taken home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor back in 2001. He has played small but important roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars universe. However, he didn’t always dream of being an actor. Here’s what you need to know.
1. His Full Name is Benicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sánchez & He Does Speak Spanish
In the roundtable discussion above, del Toro mentions that he almost changed his name to make it in Hollywood. According to IMDB, del Toro’s full given name is Benicio Monserrate Rafael Del Toro Sanchez. The same source notes the 6’2″ actor goes by the nickname “Beno” among those he is close with.
Benicio del Toro speaks both English and Spanish. In fact, the actor has been praised for his acting work in Spanish, most notably as the titular role in “Che”. Speaking to the NY Post about Che, the actor spoke up about the unique linguistic challenge the role presented.
“I don’t know if I nailed it,” del Toro admitted, adding: “Che had a very peculiar accent; it wasn’t completely Argentinian. By the time the movie starts, he had already been in Central America for some time. And then when he went to Cuba, he made a conscious effort to get rid of the accent so that he could communicate with the peasantry.”
NY Post reporter Sandra Guzman, who conducted the del Toro interview, noted that “Native Spanish speakers will especially get to experience the nuance of Del Toro’s gift. In Part 1, Del Toro slowly transforms his character’s Argentinian-tinged Spanish to a rhythmic rat-a-tat-tat of colloquial Cuban.”
2. He Played a Minor (But Pivotal) Role in the MCU
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) July 21, 2014
For Marvel fans, del Toro is arguably best known as “Guardians of the Galaxy” character Taneleer Tivan, aka “The Collector”. In-universe, the Collector explains the history of the Infinity Stones, the mysterious and powerful artifacts that drive much of the plot in the MCU films. The Collector obtains one stone, the Aether/Reality Stone, after the events of “Thor: The Dark World”. For a time, the Collector also possessed the Orb that Peter Quill found on Morag, an orb that contained the Power Stone when Tivan was able to open it up.
Many fans assumed Thanos killed the Collector during the events of “Avengers: Infinity War”, when Thanos finalizes his plan to acquire all of the Infinity Stones. However, according to del Toro himself, the Collector survived the events of “Infinity War”. The revelation was reported by the Cinema Blend, who interviewed del Toro. According to del Toro, “I think he’s alive. Yeah… I think that, you know, I think he’s alive.”
It is unclear whether the character will return in any future MCU films or streaming television projects at this time. The character would be a poor fit for the plot of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier“, but perhaps a future film could feature a cameo from del Toro.
3. He Appeared in ‘The Last Jedi’ (But Was Almost in the Prequels)
Which of his movies is your favorite? pic.twitter.com/bDFCMoZSnx
— Rotten Tomatoes (@RottenTomatoes) February 19, 2020
Benicio del Toro appeared as DJ, an amoral character who sells out the heroes in “The Last Jedi”. His turn as DJ was generally well-received by critics, with one reviewer at Collider noting of the character:
“He’s not some cackling supervillain like Snoke or a tyrant like Hux. DJ falls into a category that’s far more familiar— the person who will do what is easy rather than what’s right, and then defend those actions by arguing for a moral relativism that since everyone is terrible, the best thing to do is just look out for your own interests.”
However, what many “Star Wars” fans don’t know is that del Toro almost appeared in the “Star Wars” universe many years before “The Last Jedi” went into production. The UK’s Express relays a story often circulated in the “Star Wars” fandom, but not confirmed in an interview with del Toro himself.
The story goes that del Toro was set to play the role of Darth Maul when “Episode 1” in production, but dropped out when many of the character’s lines were cut. The same story has also been recounted in outlets like Film School Rejects and Grunge. This rumor has prompted one Redditor to create a photo manipulation showing what del Toro might have looked like in the iconic Darth Maul makeup.
Heavy has reached out to del Toro’s publicist for comment on this rumor.
4. He and Ricky Martin Were Both Granted Spanish Citizenship Because of the Contributions to the Arts
— Armani (@armani) May 21, 2018
According to a report from the Irish Examiner, both del Toro and fellow Puerto Rican celebrity Ricky Martin were granted Spanish citizenship back in 2011. The Examiner noted that both celebrities already has US citizenship at the time they were granted Spanish citizenship, which was somewhat unusual. According to the Irish Examiner, “Spain normally obliges people to renounce any other nationality they have before granting them a Spanish passport, but it makes exceptions for citizens from Latin American countries and some other places including Puerto Rico.”
In an interview with America Reads Spanish, del Toro spoke about the pride he feels for his Latin heritage, stating: “I’m from Puerto Rico and I feel Spanish, Latino. It’s my culture, my identity, I do speak Spanish and I embrace who I am.”
That being said, del Toro is also on the record about not wanting his cultural heritage to be his sole identity. In an long-form autobiographical piece (originally published in the Miami Herald October on 10, 1997, as told to Gabriel de Lerma, and currently archived on the fan site BenecioDelToro.ca), del Toro explained:
“The only thing that I ask is not to be solely seen as a Latino actor. The fact that my name is Benicio Del Toro should not imply that I must be thought of only as a Hispanic actor. Logically, I don’t have a problem with playing Latino characters, and would play them more frequently if they were better written.”
5. He Once Dreamed of Becoming a Pro Basketball Player
"The Wolfman" could use a scene where Benicio del Toro dominates a high school basketball game as the wolf.
— Bob Loblaw (@BobLoblaw24_7) February 9, 2010
According to a profile in Esquire UK, a young Benicio del Toro once dreamed of playing pro sports, rather than appearing on the silver screen.
“Benicio Del Toro played basketball to a high standard in his youth,” Esquire UK reported. “His boyhood bedroom wall, in Miramar, Puerto Rico, was a hall of fame of posters of his favourite players. For a time, he was even talented enough to dream of a career as a pro.”
In addition to basketball, del Toro has a number of other hobbies. In an interview on BAFTA.org, del Toro noted that he loves rock music, specifically The Clash and the Rolling Stones. He also has a love of painting, and even considered majoring in painting in college. However, in the same interview, he makes his love of basketball clear, going so far as to say, “That sport is my sanctuary, my oasis.” Other pastimes he enjoys, according to that interview, are “smoking Cuban cigars and carpentry.”