You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Benicio Del Toro

21 Grams

In Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “21 Grams,” Benicio Del Toro — whom his director describes as “a complex, interior soul” — delivers an intense performance as Jack Jordan, a born-again ex-con and father who’s tortured by the prospect of reverting to his old ways. But rather than babble on about his demons, the character internalizes them, a trait that seems to fit Del Toro to a T.

“There’s something there with Benicio, he’s a guy who’s always contemplating,” Gonzalez says. “His silences are very powerful.”

The intricately woven, nonlinear story about three lives ravaged by one fateful accident gave the thesp another opportunity to play an intense role, something that he has become known for (most notably as the morally suspect cop in “Traffic,” a supporting perf that earned him the Academy Award). Through Del Toro, Jack simmers over issues of faith, guilt and free will, as he deals with being the source of several families’ pain.

Having seamlessly stepped into the part, it’s hard to imagine that Gonzalez once considered casting Del Toro as Paul, the character ultimately played by Sean Penn, and vice versa.

“(Penn) often plays that edgy part, so in a way Jack was the obvious role for him,” the director says. “But then I thought the opposite would be very interesting, and I’m glad that I did that … Benicio’s a perfect match for Jack. He has a big presence, physically and spiritually.”

Del Toro arrived in Memphis about four months prior to shooting — he was the first actor on set, according to Gonzalez — to develop the character in weekly powwows with the director. The thesp also met with several local preachers and congregations.

“The way he accepted this project, the way he approached it, it’s a dream for any director,” Gonzalez says. “I was so honored by the integrity that he showed doing this project, instead of the other million-dollar things. That’s what I call an artist.”

Coming attractions: “The Rum Diary,” “The Lost City,” “Che,” “Chaos”

More Film

  • Mary J Blige Walk of Fame

    Mary J. Blige, Common, Sufjan Stevens, More to Perform at Academy Awards

    In Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “21 Grams,” Benicio Del Toro — whom his director describes as “a complex, interior soul” — delivers an intense performance as Jack Jordan, a born-again ex-con and father who’s tortured by the prospect of reverting to his old ways. But rather than babble on about his demons, the character internalizes them, […]

  • Bizzers Like "Sound" of South-South Co-Prods

    Bizzers Like "Sound" of South-South Co-Prods

    In Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “21 Grams,” Benicio Del Toro — whom his director describes as “a complex, interior soul” — delivers an intense performance as Jack Jordan, a born-again ex-con and father who’s tortured by the prospect of reverting to his old ways. But rather than babble on about his demons, the character internalizes them, […]

  • Former IM Global Exec Stuart Ford's

    Former IM Global Exec Stuart Ford's New Venture to Focus on Content

    In Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “21 Grams,” Benicio Del Toro — whom his director describes as “a complex, interior soul” — delivers an intense performance as Jack Jordan, a born-again ex-con and father who’s tortured by the prospect of reverting to his old ways. But rather than babble on about his demons, the character internalizes them, […]

  • 'Eldorado' Review: A Moving Essay on

    Berlin Film Review: 'Eldorado'

    In Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “21 Grams,” Benicio Del Toro — whom his director describes as “a complex, interior soul” — delivers an intense performance as Jack Jordan, a born-again ex-con and father who’s tortured by the prospect of reverting to his old ways. But rather than babble on about his demons, the character internalizes them, […]

  • 'Museum' Review: Dazzling, Heartfelt Mexican Heist

    Berlin Film Review: 'Museum'

    In Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “21 Grams,” Benicio Del Toro — whom his director describes as “a complex, interior soul” — delivers an intense performance as Jack Jordan, a born-again ex-con and father who’s tortured by the prospect of reverting to his old ways. But rather than babble on about his demons, the character internalizes them, […]

  • Touch Me Not

    Berlin Film Review: 'Touch Me Not'

    In Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “21 Grams,” Benicio Del Toro — whom his director describes as “a complex, interior soul” — delivers an intense performance as Jack Jordan, a born-again ex-con and father who’s tortured by the prospect of reverting to his old ways. But rather than babble on about his demons, the character internalizes them, […]

  • 'Survivors Guide to Prison' Review

    Film Review: 'Survivors Guide to Prison'

    In Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “21 Grams,” Benicio Del Toro — whom his director describes as “a complex, interior soul” — delivers an intense performance as Jack Jordan, a born-again ex-con and father who’s tortured by the prospect of reverting to his old ways. But rather than babble on about his demons, the character internalizes them, […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content