Benicio del Toro

Benicio del Toro talks Dubai International Film Festival and working with Steven Soderbergh as he chats to Time Out


You star in the first movie adapted from a T-shirt. Congratulations! Benicio Del Toro:
That’s a first – I haven’t heard that one. Thank you.

Do you find it ironic that Che’s image has been used to sell stuff?
It’s not necessarily irony. I mean, a T-shirt is just a T-shirt. But you know, I think the real irony is that whoever took the image never made a profit from it.

You won Best Actor at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for your performance. How did that compare to winning your Academy Award?
Cannes, I think, feels a little bit more like the Olympics. The Oscar is the Oscar. Nothing comes close. But awards are just part of the business. That’s the way I look at it. They can be a way of selling the movie. You’ve got to get people in to see the movies, and if getting nominated helps, I understand that.

How did a four-and-a-half-hour, two-part Spanish-language movie about a guy most Americans know little about end up getting made?
Well, without the recognition the Oscars brought on me, I don’t think Che would have been made. It helped me get people around the world to put money in the film. On the other hand, you can’t make a movie about him in two hours. You really can’t. Otherwise, you’re never going to get to spend any time with him.

Your next movie, The Wolf Man, started up right after Che wrapped. Did you take that role so you could keep rocking Guevara’s facial hair?
I should have. But no, that’s all make-up.

Was it strange going from playing a Marxist rebel to playing a werewolf?
It was a way of shedding Che. Being pretty much on the tails of a role like that, that’s when you want to burn the oil, you know? You step on the gas and go on to the other movie. That they’re completely different movies, I think is maybe healthy for me.

The Wolf Man is just a natural progression from your first movie role, Duke The Dog-Faced Boy in Big Top Pee-wee.
[Laughs] Yeah. The Wolf Man would be his great-grandfather.

So what’s next?
After this? After this interview, I’m going to eat my food.

I meant in your career. But all right: What are you eating?
I’m going to have some tomato salad, some espresso and a little bit of meat.

That seems appropriate for a wolf man.
There you go. I’m ready to start.

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