Benicio Del Toro emerged in the mid-1990s as one of the most watchable and charismatic character actors to come along in years. A favorite of film buffs, Del Toro gained mainstream public attention as the conflicted but basically honest Mexican policeman in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic (2000).
Benicio was born on February 19, 1967 in San Germán, Puerto Rico, the son of lawyer parents Fausta Genoveva Sanchez Rivera and Gustavo Adolfo Del Toro Bermudez. His mother died when he was young, and his father moved the family to a farm in Pennsylvania. A basketball player with an interest in acting, he decided to follow the family way and study business at the University of California in San Diego. A class in acting resulted in his being bitten by the acting bug, and he subsequently dropped out and began studying with legendary acting teacher Stella Adler in Los Angeles and at the Circle in the Square Acting School in New York City. Telling his parents that he was taking courses in business, Del Toro hid his new studies from his family for a little while.