March 2003
The Hunted : An Interview with Benecio Del Toro

Interviewed by Wilson Morales

The Hunted: An Interview with Benecio Del Toro

Latino actors are starting make some ground on the leading role level. While they were never away, the roles just didnít come their way. Jennifer Lopez started making some noise and she gets nothing short of a lead role. Selma Hayek just recently got an Oscar nomination for her lead role in Frida. Now itís time for the guys. Two years after winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Traffic, Benecio Del Toro finally has a lead role. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Benecio talks about his role in The Hunted and how he loves it when he doesnít get acting parts.



WM: Is it always a challenge playing a different role?

BDT: Itís weird, but this movie is different because itís a chase. There is so much fighting and of course thereís not going to be so much dialogue in the middle of a fight unless youíre Muhammed Ali. But otherwise, for this movie, I think itís the right choice. Itís a challenge in a way, but itís also fun.


WM: Was there a point in the film where you knew that dialogue wasnít necessary for a key scene?

BDT: Basically the whole film. In some sections, there was little dialogue. But Billy (William Friedkin) was very much into reducing the dialogue when he felt it was redundant. He wanted it to be different. Itís a lot of action.


WM: What was it that grabbed you to take this role?

BDT: The first thing was the director and the physicality of it was interesting.


WM: I had read somewhere that one point you broke your wrist during filming. Can you talk about that?

BDT: Itís not in the film, but it was one of the scenes where Iím practicing with the knife and I fell on Tommy Lee Jones and he fell, and I fell on top him and my wrist was trapped somehow and broke. When you work with Tommy, bring a gun.



WM: Tommy Lee Jones had mentioned that he learned a lot more about killing people than he wanted to know and that the aspects of killing were a little upsetting. How do you feel about the aspects of killing people?

BDT: Yeah, I agree. Iím with him in some ways.


WM: Do you believe in killing for survival?

BDT: Thatís not necessary the military. You have to kill to survive. People have been doing it forever. I eat meat, and I eat fish. If I were on a deserted island I would need that to survive.


WM: What do you think about war and about Puerto Ricans being involved in it?

BDT: I donít think war is a solution to whatís going on right now. There have been some wars that been necessary in some ways. I think WWII was an important war. If the situation right now was like WWII, Iím sure you would be all for it. I believe in war but Iím not clear with whatís going on now.



WM: Could you imagine yourself in the military?

BDT: I donít think I could be a foot soldier. I donít know if I could take orders too good. Iím a little lazy.


WM: How does (Director) Friedkin change your day?

BDT: Heís old school in a way that a basketball coach expects a 120% percent from everyone. He might get emotional like Coach Bobby Knight. Heís like a military guy, not in a bad way.


WM: Growing up, did you have a fear of some horror films and who did you enjoy watching on screen?

BDT: Yeah, many. When I was a kid it was Bela Lugosi films, or Boris Karloff films. Then later on, it was Richard Gere and Eddie Murphy. When I was in my teens, they were the big stars in the 80s. Robert De Niro was also a favorite.


WM: What turns this guy from a killing machine to a rogue killing machine?

BDT: Well, in war, heís trained to kill and what turns him into a rogue killing machine could be the fact that heís desensitized to killing.


WM: Did you enjoy yourself doing this film?

BDT: I enjoyed it. To be honest with you, I rather not be working. When you work, there are all sorts of deadlines and pressures. I like to do one thing and take my time to do the other one. Iím not like always working on a film; Iím working in my head. If I donít get a job, I go ďThank you, GodĒ, theyíll deal with it. I think the work really starts when you get the job. I used to have auditions and go to the auditions and walk in and then they would say, ďYou didnít get itĒ, and many times I would go, ďThank GodĒ, because I donít know what I would have done with that role. When I got the part, thatís when I would know when the work begins. When some people get parts, they feel they can now relax, but for me it was always the opposite. Sometimes before I do a movie or before I act out a scene, I may not sleep well the night before. If I donít know what the scene is about, I might get all worked up.



WM: What do you on your spare time?

BDT: I read and listen to music. I also paint but I havenít done that in a while. I listen to all types of music. I have been in Memphis recently so Iíve been listening to some blues like Muddy Waters, and some early Elvis.


WM: Itís been a long time since you were a romantic lead in a film. Would you consider playing that sort of role again?

BDT: It depends on the part. There are a lot of good actresses out there. I would do something like that. I did a film years ago with Alicia Silverstone. It wasnít too successful I guess, but I liked it. I enjoyed it. The film was ďExcess BaggageĒ.


WM: How have your choices changed since you won the Oscar?

BDT: The formula is pretty much the same. I try to judge my movie based on the story. Itís not always like that, but itís based on the story and the people on it. Hopefully, it would be great if it was in that order. But it doesnít always work out that way.