No matter how menacing the character he’s playing, Benicio del Toro likes to bring a little humour to it.
In his latest film, A Perfect Day, del Toro injects a wry wit into his role as a jaded aid worker in an armed conflict zone in the Balkans in 1995.
He says it’s a subtle touch he tries to add with all of his parts, which have also included a former convict in 21 Grams and a police officer in Traffic. Both roles earned him an Oscar nomination, with the latter landing him the golden statuette.
“Even Traffic, there were moments with a little bit of humour, or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, del Toro, who played a Bond henchman in Licence to Kill, said in a phone interview from Los Angeles.
“When I watch other actors, I like
performances that have a bit of a sense of humour behind it or
underneath it. Even when you look at performances of actors that play
really, really bad guys, but there’s a sense of humour.
“Look at Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs
— there’s something there that bubbles out that made me uncomfortable
but at the same time made me kind of giggle. Joe Pesci in Goodfellas.”
Does del Toro consider himself to be a funny person?
“I’m funny sometimes. Depends on how many shots of tequila,” the 49-year-old said with a laugh.
In theatres Friday, A Perfect Day
also stars Tim Robbins, Olga Kurylenko, Fedja Stukan and Melanie Thierry
as humanitarian NGO workers trying to retrieve a body from a well in a
mine-filled village. Jurisdiction issues hamper their efforts.
Fernando Leon de Aranoa directed the film, his
first English-language feature, which debuted at last year’s Cannes
“l like characters or stories that deal with the futility of effort,” said del Toro, who was born in Puerto Rico.
He also likes stories that feature a moral dilemma, such as the one in Quebec director Denis Villeneuve’s crime thriller Sicario, in which del Toro plays a mysterious hired gun.
“I think it’s part of the human condition,” said del Toro.
“I don’t want to turn into a philosopher here,
but it’s choices and what makes people make choices, and why they go
this way and end up going that other way. It’s always intriguing to me.”
Del Toro said he feels “lucky” to be able to take on both smaller films like A Perfect Day and blockbuster titles like the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII, which he’s signed on to.
“As long as I can keep doing that, apart from busy, I’m going to be fine.”
Read the full review here.