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Benicio del Toro

BenicioBenicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sánchez (born February 19, 1967), better known as Benicio del Toro, is a Puerto Rican-American actor and film producer. His awards include the Academy Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award and British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award. He is known for his roles as Fred Fenster in The Usual Suspects, Javier Rodríguez in Traffic (his Oscar-winning role), Jack 'Jackie Boy' Rafferty in Sin City, Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Franky Four Fingers in Snatch, Che Guevara in Che, and most recently for his role as Lawrence Talbot in The Wolfman. He is the third Puerto Rican to win an Academy Award.

Benicio del Toro was born and grew up in Santurce, Puerto Rico, a district of San Juan. He is the son of Gustavo Adolfo del Toro Bermúdez and Fausta Genoveva Sánchez Rivera, who were both lawyers. As most Puerto Ricans, he is principally of Spanish descent, but also claims Italian and American heritage. He has an older brother, Gustavo, who is a pediatric oncologist at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. He is a cousin of Puerto Rican basketball player Carlos Arroyo, currently signed with the Miami Heat. Del Toro's childhood nicknames were "Skinny Bin Benny" and "Beno." He was raised a Roman Catholic and attended Academia del Perpetuo Socorro (The Academy of Our Lady of Perpetual Help), a Roman Catholic school in Miramar, Puerto Rico. When he was nine years old, his mother died of hepatitis. At age 12, del Toro moved with his father and two brothers to Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, where he was enrolled at the Mercersburg Academy. He spent his adolescence and attended high school there.

After graduation, del Toro followed the advice of his father and pursued a degree in business at the University of California, San Diego. Success in an elective drama course encouraged him to drop out of college and study with noted acting teachers Stella Adler and Arthur Mendoza, in Los Angeles, as well as at the Circle in the Square Theatre School, in New York City.His career gained momentum in 1995 with his breakout performance in The Usual Suspects, where he played the mumbling, wisecracking Fred Fenster. The role won him an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor and established him as a character actor. This led to more strong roles in independent and major studio films, including playing Gaspare in Abel Ferrara's The Funeral (1996) and winning a second consecutive Best Supporting Actor Independent Spirit Award for his work as Benny Dalmau in Basquiat (1996), directed by his friend, artist Julian Schnabel. Del Toro also shared the screen with Robert De Niro in the big budget thriller The Fan, in which he played Juan Primo, a charismatic Puerto Rican baseball star.