Cass Bird (born 1975)
Inkjet print, 2008 (printed 2012)
Following in a long line of distinguished actors known for playing villains, Benicio Del Toro has now crafted a persona as an ethical rebel loner in the tradition of film noir. For shaping his acting style, Del Toro credits Robert Mitchum and Jack Nicholson as important influences. After a string of small parts, his breakout performance as a mumbling petty criminal in The Usual Suspects (1995) propelled him to Hollywood stardom. Yet it was his portrayal of a small-town cop seeking peace amid the U.S.–Mexican drug wars in Traffic (2000) that won him an Academy Award for best supporting actor. Del Toro’s quiet intensity and sense of purpose in that role served as an ethical counterweight to the film’s rampant violence and corruption. Acclaimed for his roles in independent films such as 21 Grams (2003) and Sin City (2005), Del Toro won the best actor award at Cannes for his portrayal of Che Guevara in the four-hour epic biopic Che (2008).