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Del Toro, whose childhood nicknames were "Skinny Benny" and "Beno", was raised a Roman Catholic 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.
Del Toro surfaced in small television roles during the late 1980s, playing mostly thugs and drug dealers on programs such as Miami Vice and the NBC miniseries Drug Wars: The Camarena Story.
A few months later, he stood out among a first-rate ensemble cast in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic, a complex dissection of the North American drug wars.
As Javier Rodriguez — a Mexican border policeman struggling to remain honest amid the corruption and deception of illegal drug trafficking — del Toro, who spoke most of his lines in Spanish, gave a performance that dominated the film.
For Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the 1998 film adaptation of Hunter S. Oscar Zeta Acosta), Thompson's lawyer and drug-fiend cohort.
Thompson's famous book, he gained more than 40 lbs. The surrealistic film, directed by Terry Gilliam, has earned a cult following over the years.
Del Toro's performances in four films in 2000 gained him a mainstream audience.
First, the crime yarn The Way of the Gun reunited him with The Usual Suspects screenwriter Christopher Mc Quarrie.
Del Toro won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, becoming the fourth living Oscar winner whose winning role was a character who speaks predominantly in a foreign language.He appeared in Madonna's 1987 music video "La Isla Bonita" as a background character sitting on a car.Work in films followed, beginning with his debut in Big Top Pee-wee (1988) and as Dario in the James Bond movie Licence to Kill (1989), in which the 21-year-old del Toro held the distinction of being the youngest actor ever to play a Bond henchman.Del Toro continued to appear in movies including The Indian Runner (1991), China Moon (1994), Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992), Money for Nothing (1993), Fearless (1993) and Swimming with Sharks (1994).
His career gained momentum in 1995 with his breakout performance in The Usual Suspects, where he played the mumbling, wisecracking Fred Fenster.In 2003, del Toro appeared in two films: The Hunted, co-starring Tommy Lee Jones and the drama 21 Grams, co-starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts.