Study Guide: The Many Faces of Benicio del Toro

Casual fans of Benicio del Toro will tell you that the 41-year-old boricua actor has just one facial expression (an incredibly hot expression, natch), and it's called Brooding. Those people aren't paying enough attention.

Yes, there are plenty of Benicio faces that feature squinty-yet-smoldering eyes, pursed lips and furrowed, pensive brows. And yes, that look is masterfully on display in his new film, Ché, the biopic on Latin American revolutionary Ernesto Guevara that opens today at the IFC Centers in L.A. and N.Y.C. But there are oh-so-many more emotive dimensions to this leading man. Have we forgotten his breakout role in The Usual Suspects, where his fidgety mannerisms were practically visible in his cheekbones? Or his upcoming turn in The Wolfman, to which he brings a never-before-seen facial elasticity? If so, that's a shame.

Join us in this extensive study of the many faces of Benicio, in which we prove that brooding, while mesmerizing and beautiful to look at, isn't the only trick under his belt.


1. Benicio - Che

Film: Ché (2009)

Face: Profound sadness

Innermost thoughts: Will my face really be on T-shirts and coffee mugs in 50 years?

Breakdown: Benicio ponders the meaning of life as his plans for a pan-Latin American revolution head for disaster.

2. Benicio - Traffic

Film: Traffic (2001)

Face: Hopelessness

Innermost thoughts: Híjole, is there no one I can trust?

Breakdown: Benicio's brows have never furrowed so exquisitely. The reason? He's the only honest man in a corrupt world; try as he might, he can't get those damn drugs out of Mexico. 

3. Benicio - Excess Baggage

Film: Excess Baggage (1997)
Face: Faint surprise
Innermost thoughts: I know there's an obvious answer to this problem, but my mind can't seem to find it.
Breakdown: This is another early look at Benicio's hot brooding gaze. He definitely did not mean to kidnap Alicia Silverstone.

4. Benicio - 21 Grams

Film: 21 Grams (2003)

Face: Overwhelming guilt

Innermost thoughts: Drugs are bad. God is good. I suck.

Breakdown: Even when Benicio isn't playing a criminal, he still manages to kill someone. Woe is him.  


5. Benicio - The Usual Suspects

Film: The Usual Suspects (1995)

Face: Feigned confusion

Innermost thoughts: "Hand me the f****n keys, you c********r, what the fuuugggh?"

Breakdown: As pretty boy criminal Fred Fenster, Benicio keeps his eyes open wide and hustles everyone around him with anxious aplomb. Note the slightly opened mouth, a product of the garbled Latin accent that brought him such acclaim in this role.



6. Benicio - The Wolfman

Film: The Wolfman (2009)

Face: Uncontrolled rage

Innermost thoughts: None to speak of.

Breakdown: Benicio is a little miffed about the whole "I'm no longer human" thing.

7. Benicio - The Way of the Gun

Film: The Way of the Gun (2000)

Face: Cocky/murderous

Innermost thoughts: Bang, bang! 

Breakdown: Benicio is a ruthless criminal who shows no compassion for life. Thus, there is no reason to brood.

8. Benicio - Fear and Loathing

Film: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Face:  Tripped out

Innermost thoughts: We're so money.  

Breakdown: Benicio hides under shaggy hair and a full 'stache to portray Dr. Gonzo on his drug-fueled trip to Las Vegas. Not exactly attractive, but engrossing nonetheless. 

9. Benicio - Things We Lost in the Fire

Film: Things We Lost in the Fire (2007)

Face: Restlessness

Innermost thoughts: I wonder where I put my emergency heroin stash...

Breakdown: Squinting and brooding abounds in this movie. That's because Benicio is trying to change his ways, but deep down he's a bad boy and he knows it. The conflict is enormous!

10. Benicio - The Hunted

Film: The Hunted (2003)

Face: Hunting. 

Innermost thoughts: War is hard.

Breakdown: Benicio goes into a blind rage after the post-traumatic stress of his time as a soldier in Kosovo. This is not his hottest look.


11. Benicio - Snatch

Film: Snatch (2000)

Face: Condescension

Innermost thoughts: Oh yeah? Make fun of my purple shirt, and watch what happens. 

Breakdown: Benicio is on the wrong side of the law again, but he makes it look good. Once again, the half-open mouth is a sign that he's playing dumb, but internally plotting mischief. 

12. Benicio - Sin City

Film: Sin City (2005)

Face: Gleeful abandon

Innermost thoughts: I am the law.

Breakdown: There's no stopping Benicio when he's got a gun in tow. His face is almost unrecognizable, but even underneath all that makeup, his eyes still smolder.