Hailing him as “not only a film lover but a brilliant actor,” the Cannes Film Festival said Wednesday that Del Toro was “an artist who knows no boundaries” and a performer who “throws himself like no other into his roles.” He won a supporting actor Oscar in 2001 for his performance in Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic.”
Del Toro succeeds Uma Thurman in presiding over the jury for Un Certain Regard, the sidebar at Cannes that focuses on films with unusual themes or storytelling techniques. About 20 works compete in the section.
Del Toro has had a long association with Cannes. He served on the main competition jury eight years ago, which awarded the Palme d’Or to Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.” In 2008, Del Toro won the best actor trophy in Cannes for his performance in the title role of Soderbergh’s “Che,” about Che Guevara, and in 2012, he appeared on the Croisette in support of his directorial debut, “El Yuma,” one of the segments in the Spanish-language anthology “7 Days in Havana,” which competed in that year’s Un Certain Regard.
“I’ve come here many times and it’s always amazing,” he said on that occasion.
Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Pennsylvania, Del Toro wanted to be a basketball player but became an actor instead, Cannes said. “When he was 20 years old, he discovered ‘The 400 Blows’ and the infinite universe of Fellini, Eisenstein, Bergman, Eustache, Kurosawa,” the festival said. “‘The Naked Island’ of Kaneto Shindo became his go-to film.”
Other films in which Del Toro has appeared include “Sicario,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Usual Suspects.”
The Cannes Film Festival runs May 8-19.