The man who will preside over the fate of the Un Certain Regard Jury is not only a film lover but a brilliant actor, entirely devoted to his art. Eight years ago, along with Tim Burton, 59, Benicio Del Toro, 51, and his fellow members of the Jury selected Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Uncle Boonmee” (The One Who Can Recall His Past Lives) as the winner of the Palme d’or.
Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Pennsylvania, del Toro is an artist who knows no boundaries. He is a great admirer of Jean Vigo and Charlie Chaplin and would have loved to have met Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Toshiro Mifune or Humphrey Bogart. When he was 20 years old, he discovered “The 400 Blows” and the infinite universe of Fellini, Eisenstein, Bergman, Eustache and Kurosawa and “The Naked Island” of Kaneto Shindô became his go-to film.
At 6’2″, Del Toro always dreamt of becoming a basketball player but became an actor instead. His intense and magnetic presence on the screen makes him sleek and attractive.
A chameleon with a thousand faces, Del Toro played a mild-mannered gangster in “Usual Suspects” in 1995, an eccentric moustachioed lawyer in “Las Vegas Parano” in 1998, a four-fingered robber in “Snatch” in 2000 and an agent in a Mexican drug squad in cartel areas in “Traffic” in 2001, which earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also played an ex-convict turned fundamentalist Christian in “21 Grams” in 2003, a troubled American Indian in “Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian” in 2013 and a famous drug dealer both charming and terrifying in “Paradise Lost” in 2014.
A student of Stella Adler of the Actors Studio, Del Toro is a charismatic actor who transforms each of his performances into impressive but subtle displays. Despite his apparent insouciance, he throws himself like no other into his roles.
A loyal supporter of independent cinema, Del Toro has worked with Abel Ferrara in “The Funeral” in 1996, Julian Schnabel in “Basquiat” in 1997 and Oliver Stone in “Savages” in 2012. The Academy Award-winning actor also appeared in the eighth episode of a saga film series titled “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in 2017.
After “Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Del Toro will play The Collector in “Avengers: Infinity War.” Set to hit theaters on April 25, 2018, the action fantasy film will also star Chris Hemsworthm Robert Downey Jr., Scartett Johansson, Karen Gillan, Elisabeth Olsen, Josh Brolin, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan, among others.
In 2008, Del Toro received the award for best actor in Cannes Film Festival for his role as Che Guevara in Steven Soderbergh’s two-part film “Che.” It was a part the actor carried for no fewer than seven years.
Cannes Film Festival and Del Toro have a long shared history. He graced the special screenings of “Usual Suspects” in 1995, “The Pledge” in 2001, “Sin City” in 2005 and “Sicario” in 2015, which was selected to compete for the Palme d’or.
In 2012, Del Toro attended the Cannes Film Festival for his directorial debut “El Yuma,” one of the segments of “7 Days in Havana,” a collective work selected at Un Certain Regard. In 2013, Del Toro said while at the festival, “I’ve come here many times and it’s always amazing. I am totally thrilled and excited to be here.”
As the second competition within the Official Selection, Un Certain Regard will once again feature some twenty original and unique works in terms of themes and aesthetics. Del Toro takes over from Uma Thurman, who was president in 2017 of a jury that awarded prizes to Mohammad Rasoulof, Jasmine Trinca, Mathieu Amalric, Taylor Sheridan and Michel Franco.
The 2018 Cannes Film Festival will take place from May 8-19, 2018. Meanwhile, here is Del Toro at the press conference for “Sicario” at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival: