The 2015 AFI FEST presented by Audi continued on Saturday, November 7th with a spectacular event entitled “On Acting: A Conversation with Benicio Del Toro” at the Egyptian theater in Hollywood,California. Benicio Del Toro received a warm welcome from the crowd that was very eager to hear about the Oscar winning actor’s extensive acting career that includes films such as “Traffic,” “The Usual Suspects” and his most recent film “Sicario.” The conversation was moderated by Variety Deputy Editor Jenelle Riley.
Benicio Del Toro started the conversation with a discussion of how he became an actor. He stated that his choice to become an actor was unique considering that he came from a family of lawyers. He joked that it was not until the movie “Traffic” that his family considered acting as his actual career. Benicio Del Toro explained that his fist “real” acting break came when he auditioned for and received a scholarship to the Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre in Los Angeles. He explained that there was a “seriousness for the craft” at Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre in Los Angeles and a sense of pride in being an actor.
Benicio Del Toro shared that he didn’t get an acting job right away. He encouraged actors to “stick to it.” He told the story of how he auditioned for “Miami Vice” and didn’t get the role, but when he finally booked a role on “Miami Vice,” he joyously declared, “I made it!” He also talked about auditioning for the James Bond movie “License to Kill” and how he missed the final audition, but fortunately still got the part.
Benicio Del Toro went on to talk about his most notable films like “The Usual Suspects” where the Director Bryan Singer allowed him to take liberties with his character Fenster by giving the OK for Benicio Del Toro to play the role giving the character a speech impediment. He explained that this was the first movie where he “felt like an actor” because he was allowed to take chances with the character and “dare to go out on a limb.” The result was an Independent Spirit Award for “Best Supporting Male.”
Benicio Del Toro offered another example of collaboration with a director when describing a scene change from the film “Traffic” where he suggested that his character have “a meet” regarding drug trafficking in a swimming pool rather than a hotel room because his character would be concerned about wiretapping in a hotel room setting. The result was that Director Steven Soderbergh agreed. Benecio Del Toro ultimately won an Oscar for “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” for his role in “Traffic.”
When asked to give advice to actors about character development Benicio Del Toro explained that you have to ask yourself do you believe this character and put yourself in their shoes, research the character and use your imagination. He gave the example of the film “Che” where he played the real life Cuban Revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Benicio Del Toro explained that he went to Cuba and did his research by talking to people that knew “Che.” He added that you have to “stick to the truth.”
When asked how he makes the selection for what movies he will pursue, Benicio Del Toro cleverly responded,”actors don’t choose their movies, movies choose the actors.” He also stated that you have to consider how does the character impact the story because “the character is the storyteller.”
“Sicario” is Benicio Del Toro’s most current film and he commended costars Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin for being incredible actors that he really enjoyed working with, who he described as “real” in front of the camera.
Benicio Del Toro ended the conversation with the exciting news that in March he will begin shooting for “Star Wars: Episode VIII” set to be released in 2017.
For more information about the AFI FEST, go to AFI.com
For more information about Benicio Del Toro’s lastest film “Sicario, which is still playing in theaters, go to http://www.sicariofilm.com/