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Icon: Benicio Del Toro

 

 

Before you started filming The Wolfman, did you contact Michael J. Fox to get any pointers he learned on the set of Teen Wolf?

No, I didn’t. But I did read that Jack Nicholson, who did Wolf, said he likes to do fantasy movies, that it’s fun to let go. I’m in spirit with that 100 percent. It’s nice every now and then to just go ahead and have fun and make a fool of yourself.

When you were growing up in Puerto Rico, did you ever imagine that this is how your life would turn out?

Never, never, never. But I did like movies, you know? I liked those monster movies like Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy or Creature From the Black Lagoon—the old black-and-white movies they would show a lot on TV. This was before VHS, Betamax, or whatever.

Did any movie in particular really scare the crap out of you?

The Exorcist. That’s a mind-fucker! I saw it in high school, and it did affect me. Like that night I was looking out the window and it was windy and the leaves were moving. I said, “Oh, no, here we go.”

Obviously you spent a lot of time in makeup on this movie. Any thoughts on the revelation in Andre Agassi’s autobiography that he played in the French Open wearing a toupee?


Did he really? I love it! It was just one more thing to balance, man. I think it must’ve been glued on pretty good—maybe our makeup guy did it!

You’re famous for delving into your characters—like giving yourself real cigarette burns on your arm for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Before shooting The Wolfman, did you walk around the house pretending to be a wolf, licking yourself?

No. You can’t pretend to be a wolf unless you have the makeup on—otherwise it’s just weird. Wearing the makeup and the suit and all that stuff, it was more about seeing what you could and couldn’t do, because you’re restricted. I had to change the shirts underneath the suit four or five times a day and use talcum powder, because I’d be completely wet.

So you were a fragrant man by the end of the day?

Yeah! But the real problem is the teeth. You can’t talk with that stuff, so I had a team that would follow me with gloves, and I would make a sign, and they would pull my teeth out and then I would speak. Other--wise it was just, “Arhrahahra!”

Was anyone walking around holding your teeth during Che?

No. I had contact lenses, and that was a drag. In the dirt, with all the dust and the humidity, it would get foggy, and you’re walking around with an M1 in your hand and you can’t see anything.

Speaking of committing to a part, when you were making The Usual Suspects, was there ever a moment where you questioned your idea of being the guy who mumbled?

Yeah. I remember the first day I was gonna mumble, and we were doing a sequence in which Pete Postlethwaite, who played Kobayashi, had a monologue that was a page and a half. I was the first in the group to speak after he finished. And he did that monologue so amazingly, a page and a half, you know? Ra-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta! And I’m sitting there, and I said, “Who do I think I am to go from there to ‘Rawww’?”

You won an Academy Award for Traffic. Do you have a stance on the drug war? Are you pro-legalization?

I think people have the right to choose, but it’s a touchy subject. We’ve all known someone who ¿has had problems with drugs. So if anything is changed, it’s got to be gradually, because anyone can roll a joint and have a good time, but it can affect different people in different ways. You might have someone who can function 100 percent, stoned, and you have someone who takes a third of that, and their life goes out the window.

You’re a celebrity, so maybe you can offer some insight: We’re amazed when famous, superrich people get DWIs. Why don’t guys like Mel Gibson have a driver standing by 24 hours a day?

You have a point. I don’t know. I guess as big as the star is, at the end of the day he still wants to be normal. It’s kind of weird when you have a guy standing there all night.

Do fans ever get overzealous?

Sometimes when there’s drinking involved, the inhibitions go out the window and wolfman shit comes out. Like, a guy will ask me to take a picture with him in the bathroom. “All right, but wash your hands, bro.”

So The Three Stooges movie, with you, Sean Penn, and Jim Carrey: As of now it’s not in effect?

Right. That doesn’t mean it’s dead, just that the cast was too good. The Farrelly brothers are great guys, so hopefully it’ll work out at some point.

Finally, should guys take their girlfriends to The Wolfman?

Yeah, definitely, and hold their hands, man! Maybe you’ll get to second base when you get home. Maybe you’ll get to third. Take the girl!