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Give ‘em enough Lycanthrope
Tara Brady talks to Benicio Del Toro about his new movie The Wolfman, which aims to recapture the full bloodcurdling glory of classic Universal Horror films.
Tara Brady, 24 Feb 2010
“I was always a basketball kid,” says Benicio Del Toro, reaching for another cigarette while he ponders the recent death of J.D. Salinger. “I wasn’t academic. I made it through three books in high school, The Catcher In The Rye, The Old Man And The Sea and Don Quixote. With those last two I winged it, but with Holden Caulfield I got it. The minute he started talking about phonies I got it.”
There are those that say Benicio Del Toro is a difficult interviewee. I know he once told a British broadsheet journalist that he would set his dogs upon him if he asked another personal question. And I know he recently stormed out of a Washington Times interview with the parting shot; “I’m done. I hope you write whatever you want. I don’t give a damn.”
Today, he’s settled into a couch with a packet of Dunhill cigarettes, recently returned from a morning antiquing. And I can’t get my head around such tales. It’s the second time we’ve met and, once again, I’m struck by the chasm between his tortured onscreen schtick and his own laidback demeanour.
“I’m an art guy I guess,” he smirks.
I can think of reasons why he shouldn’t be so cheerful. Last year, Che, an epic four-hour biopic of the iconic revolutionary Che Guevara and a long-term labour of love for the actor and director Steven Soderbergh was roundly ignored by the Academy and just about everyone else. As Sean Penn, the eventual Oscar winner noted: “(it) is such a sensational movie, Che. Benicio is fucking good in it. And the fact that I’m not running into these people on this awards-party circuit, it’s crazy. Maybe because it’s (Che) in Spanish, maybe the length, maybe the politics.”
“I don’t take it personally,” shrugs del Toro. “I don’t have control over any of that stuff. I might take it personally if I had control but what the hell. I can’t do anything about it.”
But it must sting just a little, having invested so many years in a project that didn’t get the recognition it deserved?