Benicio del Toro was apparently upset by a writer for the Washington Times during an interview last week about the new film Che. The film, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring del Toro in the eponymous role, has sparked a controversy about the legacy of revolutionary icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara.
The film has been met with both critical praise and protests over the depiction of Che. When screened in Cuba, it was met with a standing ovation. "Del Toro is spectacular in the role of Che, not only in his physical resemblance but also in his brilliant interpretation," wrote Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party.
In the February issue of Latina magazine, Benicio shared some of his motivations for taking on the role of Che, saying he felt as though a curtain had been pulled over his eyes. "The image that I have or what had been told to me about this character is that he's kind of a cowboy—a bloodthirsty cowboy," Benicio elaborated to the Washington Times.
But Armando Valladares, author of Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulag and a Cuban dissident imprisoned by the revolutionary regime in 1960 sees it differently. "Benicio del Toro is just one of the many accomplices of the Cuban tyranny," Valladares told the Washington Times. "All the murderers of people have had accomplices and people who made excuses for them. Stalin had them, Hitler had them, Pinochet had them, all the dictators have had apologists for them. Che Guevara and Fidel Castro also had them."
Benicio's response? "We can't cover it all. You can make your own
movie. You know? You can make your own movie. And let's see. Do the
research." After being pushed by the writer about Che's position on capital punishment, del Toro eventually got fed up and walked out of the interview saying, "I'm done. I'm done, I hope you write whatever you want. I don't give a damn."
Meanwhile, Steven Soderbergh had this to add to the argument, "I've had people ask me: 'How can you make a movie about a murderer? A terrorist? What they don't understand is that I'm in support of everyone who appears on screen. I have to be. I take the position of everyone who's on screen. I'm not judging them one way or another."
Tell us: What do you think about Ernest “Che” Guevara? Revolutionary war hero or ruthless killer?