Benicio Del Toro has never been part of a drug cartel, but he has made a fortune from the illegal drug trade -- by representing it on TV and the big screen over the course of his acting career, that is.
"I've made a career out of drugs,” the actor -- who turns 50 today -- told The Independent in 2015. “Obviously it’s because of our times, if I’d been an actor in the Thirties it might have been alcohol or bootlegging. That’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’ve played a junkie, a casual user, the supplier, the one who has gone after a drug dealer, I’ve played them all.”
That's no exaggeration. One of Del Toro's earliest film roles was a henchman for fictional drug kingpin Franz Sanchez in the Timothy Dalton Bond feature 'License to Kill' (1989). And since the interview with the independent, he's played a hitman assisting the FBI in America's war against Mexican drug cartels in 'Sicario' and its upcoming sequel 'Soldado', which will be released later this year.
So he really is the Jimmy Cagney of drug prohibition movies.
But the actor himself wants to see America and other countries take a different approach to combating the flow of illegal drugs across their borders. When The Independent asked Del Toro how politicians should approach the illicit drug trade, he said, "I think legalization. That road needs to be explored more. In the United States they are legalizing marijuana in some states, so instead of fighting fire with fire, that road needs to be explored.”
Of course, legalization might take a bite out of his pay check. But he could always go back to comedy. Although the drug war has dominated his filmography, Del Toro actually got his start playing Duke the Dog-Faced Boy in Big Top Pee-wee (1988), starring Paul Reubens as Pee-wee Herman.