Beni­cio Mon­ser­rate Rafael del Toro Sánchez, bet­ter known as Beni­cio del Toro (born Feb­ru­ary 19, 1967) is a Puer­to Rican actor and film pro­duc­er. He won an Acad­e­my Award, a Gold­en Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a BAFTA Award for his role as Javier Rodríguez in Traf­fic (2000). He is also known for his roles as Fred Fen­ster in The Usu­al Sus­pects (1995), Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), Franky Four Fin­gers in Snatch (2000), Jack­ie Boy in Sin City (2005), and Che Gue­vara in Che (2008), a per­for­mance which gar­nered him the Best Actor Award both at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val in France, and at the Goya Awards in Spain. He will por­tray The Col­lec­tor in the upcom­ing Mar­vel Stu­dios films, Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy. He is the third Puer­to Rican to win an Acad­e­my Award.

Beni­cio del Toro was born on Feb­ru­ary 19, 1967, in San Ger­man, Puer­to Rico, to Gus­ta­vo Adol­fo del Toro Bermudez and Faus­ta Gen­ove­va Sanchez Rivera, who were both lawyers. Many of Del Toro’s rel­a­tives are involved in Puer­to Rico’s legal sys­tem. He has an old­er broth­er, Gus­ta­vo, who was a pedi­atric oncol­o­gist at the Mount Sinai Med­ical Cen­ter in New York City. He had a Cata­lan pater­nal great-grand­fa­ther and a Basque mater­nal great-grand­moth­er. He claims some Indige­nous Amer­i­can ances­try as well. Beni­cio del Toro is relat­ed to Puer­to Rican bas­ket­ball play­er Car­los Arroyo, Span­ish pop-euro­dance singer Rebe­ca Pous Del Toro, whose mater­nal grand­fa­ther was Puer­to Rican, and Puer­to Rican singer Eliseo del Toro.

Del Toro, whose child­hood nick­names were “Skin­ny Ben­ny” and “Beno”, was raised a Roman Catholic and attend­ed Acad­e­mia del Per­petuo Socor­ro (The Acad­e­my of Our Lady of Per­pet­u­al Help), a Roman Catholic school in Mira­mar, Puer­to Rico. When del Toro was nine years old, his moth­er died of hepati­tis. At age 12, he moved with his father and broth­er to Mer­cers­burg, Penn­syl­va­nia, where he was enrolled at the Mer­cers­burg Acad­e­my. He spent his ado­les­cence and attend­ed high school there. After grad­u­a­tion, del Toro fol­lowed the advice of his father and pur­sued a degree in busi­ness at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San Diego. Suc­cess in an elec­tive dra­ma course encour­aged him to drop out of col­lege and study with not­ed act­ing teach­ers Stel­la Adler and Arthur Men­doza, in Los Ange­les, as well as at the Cir­cle in the Square The­atre School, in New York City.

Del Toro began to sur­face in small tele­vi­sion parts dur­ing the late 1980s, play­ing most­ly thugs and drug deal­ers on pro­grams such as Mia­mi Vice and the NBC minis­eries Drug Wars: The Camare­na Sto­ry. He had a cameo in Madonna’s 1987 music video clip “La Isla Boni­ta” as a back­ground char­ac­ter (the kid sit­ting on the car). Work in films fol­lowed, begin­ning with his debut in Big Top Pee-wee and in the 007 film Licence to Kill, in which 21-year-old del Toro held the dis­tinc­tion of being the youngest actor ever to play a Bond hench­man. Del Toro con­tin­ued to appear in movies includ­ing The Indi­an Run­ner (1991), Chi­na Moon (1994), Christo­pher Colum­bus: The Dis­cov­ery (1992), Mon­ey for Noth­ing (1993), Fear­less (1993) and Swim­ming with Sharks (1994).

His career gained momen­tum in 1995 with his break­out per­for­mance in The Usu­al Sus­pects, where he played the mum­bling, wise­crack­ing Fred Fen­ster. The role won him an Inde­pen­dent Spir­it Award for Best Sup­port­ing Actor and estab­lished him as a char­ac­ter actor. This led to more strong roles in inde­pen­dent and major stu­dio films, includ­ing play­ing Gas­pare in Abel Ferrara’s The Funer­al (1996) and win­ning a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive Best Sup­port­ing Actor Inde­pen­dent Spir­it Award for his work as Ben­ny Dal­mau in Basquiat (1996), direct­ed by his friend, artist Julian Schn­abel. Del Toro also shared the screen with Robert De Niro in the big bud­get thriller The Fan, in which he played Juan Pri­mo, a charis­mat­ic Puer­to Rican base­ball star. He sub­se­quent­ly starred oppo­site Ali­cia Sil­ver­stone in Excess Bag­gage (1997), which Sil­ver­stone pro­duced.

For Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the 1998 film adap­ta­tion of Hunter S. Thompson’s famous book, he gained more than 40 lbs. (about 18 kg) to play Dr. Gonzo (a.k.a. Oscar Zeta Acos­ta), Thompson’s lawyer and drug-fiend cohort. The sur­re­al­is­tic film, direct­ed by Ter­ry Gilliam, has earned a cult fol­low­ing over the years. Return­ing from a two-year hia­tus after Fear and Loathing, del Toro would gain a main­stream audi­ence in 2000 with a string of per­for­mances in four high-pro­file films. First up was The Way of the Gun, a crime yarn that reunit­ed him with The Usu­al Sus­pects screen­writer Christo­pher McQuar­rie, mak­ing his direc­to­r­i­al debut. A few months lat­er, he stood out among a first-rate ensem­ble cast in Steven Soderbergh’s Traf­fic, a com­plex dis­sec­tion of the North Amer­i­can drug wars. As Javier Rodriguez —a Mex­i­can bor­der cop strug­gling to remain hon­est amid the cor­rup­tion and decep­tion of ille­gal drug traf­fick­ing —del Toro, who spoke most of his lines in Span­ish, gave a per­for­mance that dom­i­nat­ed the film.

His per­for­mance swept all of the major crit­ics awards in 2001. Del Toro won an Acad­e­my Award for Best Sup­port­ing Actor, becom­ing the fourth liv­ing Oscar win­ner whose win­ning role was a char­ac­ter who speaks pre­dom­i­nant­ly in a for­eign lan­guage. Del Toro is also the third Puer­to Rican actor to win an Oscar, after Jose Fer­rer and Rita Moreno. The night he won his Oscar marked first time that two actors born in Puer­to Rico were nom­i­nat­ed in the same cat­e­go­ry (the oth­er actor was Joaquin Phoenix). In his accep­tance speech, del Toro thanked the peo­ple of both Nogales, Ari­zona and Nogales, Sono­ra and ded­i­cat­ed his award to them. In addi­tion to the Oscar, he also won the Gold­en Globe Award and the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor. Traf­fic was also a suc­cess at the box office, bring­ing to del Toro real Hol­ly­wood clout for the first time in his career. While Traf­fic was still play­ing in the­aters, two oth­er del Toro films were released in late 2000/early 2001. He had a brief role as the dia­mond thief Franky Four Fin­gers in Guy Ritchie’s hip caper com­e­dy Snatch, and played a men­tal­ly-chal­lenged Native Amer­i­can man in The Pledge, direct­ed by his old friend Sean Penn.

In 2003, del Toro appeared in two films: The Hunt­ed, co-star­ring Tom­my Lee Jones, and the dra­ma 21 Grams, co-star­ring Sean Penn and Nao­mi Watts. He went on to gar­ner anoth­er Best Sup­port­ing Actor Oscar nom­i­na­tion for his work in the lat­ter. He then appeared in the film adap­ta­tion of Frank Miller’s graph­ic nov­el Sin City, direct­ed by Robert Rodriguez, and Things We Lost in the Fire, the Eng­lish lan­guage debut of cel­e­brat­ed Dan­ish direc­tor Susanne Bier. Things We Lost in the Fire co-starred Halle Berry, Ali­son Lohman, and John Car­roll Lynch.

In 2008, del Toro was award­ed the Prix d’interpretation mas­cu­line (or Best Actor Award) at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val for his char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Che Gue­vara in the bio­graph­i­cal films The Argen­tine and Guer­ril­la (togeth­er known as Che). Dur­ing his accep­tance speech del Toro ded­i­cat­ed his award “to the man him­self, Che Gue­vara” along with direc­tor Steven Soder­bergh. Del Toro was also award­ed a 2009 Goya Award as the Best Actor for his depic­tion of Che. Actor Sean Penn, who won an Oscar for his role in Milk, remarked that he was sur­prised and dis­ap­point­ed that Che and del Toro were not also up for any Acad­e­my Award nom­i­na­tions. Dur­ing his accep­tance speech for the Best Actor’s tro­phy at the Screen Actors Guild Awards Penn expressed his dis­may stat­ing, “The fact that there aren’t crowns on Soderbergh’s and Del Toro’s heads right now, I don’t under­stand … that is such a sen­sa­tion­al movie, Che.” For the final por­tions of the film (shown here), del Toro shed 35 pounds to show how ill Gue­vara had become near the end of his life in the jun­gles of Bolivia.

In 2010, del Toro starred in and pro­duced the remake of Lon Chaney, Jr.‘s clas­sic cult film The Wolf Man.  He was cho­sen to be the face of the 2011 Cam­pari cal­en­dar, becom­ing the first male mod­el to be fea­tured in the Ital­ian liquor company’s cal­en­dar.   In June 2013, del Toro joined the cast of Mar­vel Stu­dios’ 2014 super­hero film Guardians of the Galaxy.

While pro­mot­ing his film The Wolf­man in 2010, he described his roman­tic life as “in lim­bo.” When asked if he had thoughts of set­tling down, he respond­ed, “Why? Every­one says, ‘Why isn’t he mar­ried?’ But it’s like, ‘Fuck! Why do I have to get mar­ried? Just so I can get divorced?’ ” In an inter­view with The Times he men­tioned that he didn’t want his West Hol­ly­wood apart­ment, which he described as his “cave,” to be “invad­ed” by a wife and chil­dren.

On April 11, 2011, del Toro’s pub­li­cist announced that del Toro and Kim­ber­ly Stew­art (daugh­ter of Rod Stew­art) were expect­ing their first child, although they were not in a rela­tion­ship. Stew­art gave birth to a daugh­ter, Delilah, on August 21, 2011. They had their daugh­ter bap­tized in Puer­to Rico.

On Novem­ber 4, 2011, he acquired Span­ish cit­i­zen­ship, along with fel­low Puer­to Rican Ricky Mar­tin. The request was grant­ed by the Span­ish gov­ern­ment due to his artis­tic tal­ents and his Span­ish roots (he has fam­i­ly in Barcelona).   In March 2012, he was grant­ed an hon­orary degree by the Inter-Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty of Puer­to Rico for his impact on the cin­e­ma enter­prise, dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tion of the insti­tu­tion cen­te­nary.