Cannes: Benicio Del Toro Named Un Certain Regard Jury President

Benicio del Toro - BAFTA Party - Getty - H - 2016
John Phillips/Getty Images

"Born in Puerto Rico, raised in Pennsylvania, he is an artist who knows no boundaries," the fest says.

Benicio Del Toro will head up this year's jury of the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival.

The festival unveiled the star, who in 2001 won the best supporting actor Oscar for his role in Traffic, as the president of the jury on Wednesday.

"The man who will preside over the fate of the Un Certain Regard jury is not only a film lover but a brilliant actor, entirely devoted to his art," festival organizers said. "Born in Puerto Rico, raised in Pennsylvania, he is an artist who knows no boundaries."

Del Toro has a long-running relationship with the Cannes festival. In 2008, he won the award for best actor for his role as Che Guevara in Steven Soderbergh’s two-part film Che. He has over the years also attended special screenings of The Usual SuspectsThe Pledge, Sin City and, in 2015, Sicario. He also attended the festival for his directorial debut, El Yuma, one of the segments of 7 Days in Havana, a collective work selected for the Un Certain Regard program in 2012. 

Eight years ago, along with Tim Burton and others, he was a member of the main competition jury in Cannes that selected Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee (The One Who Can Recall His Past Lives) as the winner of the Palme d'Or.

"He is a great admirer of Jean Vigo and Charlie Chaplin and would have loved to have met Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Toshiro Mifune or Humphrey Bogart," the festival said about Del Toro. "When he was 20 years old, he discovered The 400 Blows and the infinite universe of Fellini, Eisenstein, Bergman, Eustache, Kurosawa ... The Naked Island (by) Kaneto Shindo became his go-to film."

"At 6-feet-2, Benicio Del Toro always dreamt of becoming a basketball player but became an actor instead," the festival also highlighted. "His intense and magnetic presence on the screen makes him sleek and attractive. A chameleon with a thousand faces: a mild-mannered gangster (Usual Suspects, 1995), an eccentric mustachioed lawyer (Las Vegas Parano, 1998), a four-fingered robber (Snatch, 2000), an agent in a Mexican drug squad in cartel areas (Traffic, 2001), an ex-convict turned fundamentalist Christian (21 Grams, 2003), a troubled American Indian (Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian, 2013), a famous drug dealer both charming and terrifying (Paradise Lost, 2014). The charismatic Benicio Del Toro transforms each of his performances into impressive but subtle displays."

Last year's Un Certain Regard jury president was Uma Thurman. The Cannes festival this year runs May 8-19.