Benicio Del Toro

  1. Patrick Swayze, Dirty Dancing, 1986.   Johnny Castle (originally Italian) went through Benicio Del Toro, Billy Zane and Adrien Zmed before arriving at Swayze – who hated ”the porno title.” MGM, Miramax, Orion, Warner,  Universal, rejected the project as “too girly.” Hadn’t they seen Flashdance? (Even Paramount passed and it had made Flashdance!).  The guys and  dolls –  Jennier Grey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Winona Ryder, Sharon Stone, Pia Zadora  – were interchanged in further tests to locate The Couple. Jennifer begged: “Anyone but Patrick!” They had a good/bad history filming Red Dawn, 1983, but agreed to put their differences aside. Swazye (15 years older than Johnny) had been with the Elliott Feld Ballet but removed  “dancer” off his CV, due to a dance-damaged knee.  Vestron was  not sure what it hard and asked The Rose producer  Aaron Russo to take a look. His  advice: “Burn the negative and collect the insurance.” The little film that grew is still making $1m per year…  The hit song  – (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” –  led to something new at weddings: You can now lift the bride…  (Oh and Swayze turned down $6m or the sequel). 

  2. Antonio Banderas, The Mask of Zorro, 1997.     Directors changed – Steven Spielberg (who produced), Robert Rodriguez and eventually, Bondsmith Martin Campbell gave up Tomorrow Never Dies – as often as Alejandro Murrieta, aka Zorro… Del Toro, Marc Anthony (future third husband of Jennifer Lopez), Puerto Rican pop icon Elmer Figueroa Arce, Tom Cruise, Joaquim de Almeida, Andy Garcia,

  3. Ray Park,  Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace,  1997.
  4. John Leguizamo, Summer of Sam, 1998.   “Beno” and Leonardo DiCaprio were first choices for the leads finally taken by  Leguizamo and Adrien Brody in Spike Lee’s look at the victims of the serial killer during the terrifying New York summer of ’77. A film, said Chicago critic Roger Ebert, vibrating with fear, guilt and lust.
  5. Scott Foley, Scream 3, 1999.  Change of the Stab 3 director Roman Bridger as the franchise merrilly rolled along… with more Ghostface murders as shooting of the horror flick inside the horror flic  gets underway.
  6. Jeanne Tripplehorn, Timecode, 2000.    “My character was not originally a lesbian,” laughed Salma Hayek.   “[Director] Mike Figgis just couldn’t cast my guy. Benicio couldn’t make it, so my guy became Jeanne.”
  7. Javier Bardem,   Before Night Falls, 2002.   Preferred The Way of the Gun, directing debut of his friend, The Usual Suspects screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie
  8. Alfred Molina, Frida, 2002.     Gave up on being Frida’s lover, Diego Rivera. One experience of putting  on weight  in a hurry was enough – the 40lbs  for Doctor Gonzo in  Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, 1998.  Del Toro had a reputation (like Josh Brolin) of being among the worst auditioners.
  9. Vincent Cassel, Blueberry: L’expérience secrate, France, 2004.   When Val Kilmer ran, realisateur Jan Kounen passed his script to Del Toro and Willem Dafoe.   But it  had damned little to do with the comicbook upon which it was so debased.
  10. Robert Downey Jr, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 2004.   Beno and (a gay) Hugh Grant were Warners’ early odd couple for writer Shane Black’s directing debut – a comedy-noir spin on his cop buddy epics, Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout Actually, Warners wanted Harrison Ford with anyone… but didn’t they all.

  11. David Morrissey, Basic Instinct 2, 2005.     “I let myself down,” said Morrissey. “When it came out… I didn’t want to leave the house.It was a very bruising experience.” Among the 14 others running to Sharon Stone – or from her and the idea of playing her London shrink. Benicio, Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt, Pierce Brosnan, Gabriel Byrne, Robert Downey Jr,Aaron Eckhart, Rupert Everett (!), Bruce Greenwood, Jude Law, Ewan McGrgeor, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Perez, Kurt Russell. An obvious flop before one scene was shot in anger… As in: What can she do for an encore?
  12. The Rock,   Southland Tales, 2005.       Director  Richard Kelly’s first thought for Boxer Santaros in his   Philip K Dick-Andy Warhol graphic novel hybrid.
  13. Adrian Brody, Hollywoodland, 2005.        As the private dick investigating the life and mystery death of the first TV Superman, George Reeves, 1914-1959.  For the second time, Brody and Joaquin Phoenix were up for the same role. In 2003, Phoenix won – well, lost, really. The film was The Village, continuing the freefall of Indian director M Night Shymalan. 
  14. Russell Crowe, American Gangster, 2007.   Nearly took off in 2004 under director Antoine Fuqua until the Universal suits balked at the budget – not helped by having to pay Denzel Washington and Del Toro their pay-or-play $20m and $5m, respectively. Ridley Scott took it over, with Washington and Crowe.
  15. Aaron Eckhart, The Rum Diary, 2009.    Del Toro, Josh Hartnett, Nick Nolte and Brad Pitt were the first line-up  for what became Johnny  Depp’s second outing as his pal, gonzo journo Hunter S Thompson  – after Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,1997, which co-starred Del Toro. In both cases the directors misfired: Terry Gilliam in Vegas and Bruce Robinson making his first movie since 1992 with Diary. Del Toro had once been  due to helm.. Depp  finally got his way (and with his leading lady, Amber Heard) in 2009. Not that anyone went.
  16. Ray Liotta, The Iceman, 2011.      First plan of Del Toro and James Franco later became Liotta and Chris Evans – on the sidelines of the true story of the Polish-American serial killer Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon). When caught in 1986, he had slain more than 100 people.
  17. Chris Diamantopoulos, The Three Stooges, 2011.      The Farrelly brothers’ first choice for the trio’s taciturn leader, Moe Howard – opposite, at the time, Sean Penn, Jim Carey as Larry and Curly. ’Twas obvious from the get-go that this idea was a loser. The Farrellys may love and adore them (hence their own un-subtle comedies like Dumb and Dumber) but there are just not that many fans of the Stooges – and their slap-happy boinks, pokes, slaps, nyuk-nyuks, nyaaahhhs – in one US township, let alone the world.  A handsome fella until given Moe’ssoup-bowl haircut, .Diamantopoulos was born five days after Moe died in 1975.  
  18. Benedict Cumberbatch, Star Trek: Into Darkness 2012.     The 12th and most successful Trek – and Leonard Nimoy’s final curtain as Spock. Producer-director JJ Abrams saw his villain, Kahn Noonien Singh, as a mix of The Dark Knight’s Joker, Hannibal Lecter and The Shining’s Jack Torrance. And seemed to search for him, at UNO: American Mickey Rourke, Mexican Demián Bichir, Puerto Rican Benicio Del Toro, Spanish Jordi Mollà, Venezuelian Edgar Ramirez. Before Steven Spielberg suggested… Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch of Hammesmith, London! And he tested in a friend’s kitchen on an iPhone.
  19. Ray Liotta, The Iceman, 2012.      Change of of Roy DeMeo who supposedly introduced the titular New Jersey Mafia hit man to contract killing. When arrested in 1986, Richard Kuklinski admitted to more than 100 hits, then again… maybe 250. Michael Shannon stole all but the actual screen in the title role.  
  20. Adam Driver, Silence, 2016.      Martin Scorese’s third religious experience floundered so long in Development Hell that he lost his leads – Del Toro, Daniel Day-Lewis and Gael Garcia Bernal.   They became Diver, Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield. Surprising choices for Jesuit priests: Kylo Ren and Qui –Gon Jinn   from Star Wars and an ex-Spider Man! Reminiscent of The Mission, 1985 – Best Film at Cannes and the Oscars – the film was Scorsese obsession for 20 years, based on Shusaku Endo’s novel about 17th century Jesuits risking their lives to bring Christianity to Japan.

  21. Boyd Holbrook, The Predator, 2017.      Clashing schedules forced De Toro out and Holbrook, the Logan villain, in. Not the promised re-boot, but a fifth sequel as auteur Shane Black was less keen on starting all over than exploring the creature’s journey. Black was given a role in the first 1986 chapter – so as to be around for any re-writing!
  22. Tahar Rahim, The Serpent, TV, 2019. “My brother had this book, Serpentine [about  serial killer Charles Sobhra]… and it appeared to me like a movie.,” recalled French star Rahim. “I was naive enough to think that I could be an actor and… not see the horror it contained. I didn’t identify with him, thankfully. But I projected myself playing him as an actor -he was  changing identities and being someone else all the time. And plus, he was French! But later on, around 2001, Benicio Del Toro and William Friedkin were preparing a movie about him, and I was like: Oh, not this time. But it never happened. And 20 years later, I got this email from my agent[about trhe BBC/Netflix series] … Wow, life’s crazy sometimes.”






 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  22