Benicio Del Toro celebrates his 53rd birthday on February 19, 2020. The actor has built a prominent career in film and on television, earning an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Traffic.” This stellar career trajectory may not have been predicted when he began his career with his first film role. Everyone has to start somewhere and for Del Toro it came in “Big Top Pee-Wee,” in which he played Duke the dog-faced boy opposite Pee-Wee Herman.
Born in Puerto Rico to a family of lawyers, Del Toro thought he too would pursue that type of career and he started college as a business major at the University of California, San Diego. There he found his true passion was in acting, so he left school to pursue it full time.
His first jobs included appearances on “Miami Vice” and other episodic television shows. He appeared in Madonna’s video for her song “La Isla Bonita,” and when he was 21 had a small role in the James Bond film “License to Kill.”
Despite his early success Del Toro struggled with being typecast as thugs and drug dealers. He was able to make the most of those roles and eventually became accepted as a wider variety of characters.
His early success culminated in the year 2000 when he swept all the major awards including the Oscar, SAG, Golden Globe, BAFTA, New York Film Critic’s and National Society of Film Critic’s awards for his role as a dedicated cop in Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic.” He received a second Oscar nomination three years later when he appeared in “21 Grams.”
To celebrate his birthday, take a photo gallery tour of his 10 greatest film performances, ranked from worst to best. In addition to the movies mentioned above, we also include “The Usual Suspects,” “Sicario,” “Sin City” and more.