When Del Toro Is 'Hunted'

Singers Adam Lambert and Katy Perry arrive to the premiere of "Michael Jackson's This Is It" on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
AP Photo/Matt Sayles
Academy Award winner Benicio del Toro returns to the big screen Friday, starring with Tommy Lee Jones in the new thriller, "The Hunted."

The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen recently sat down with del Toro to talk about his role as Aaron Hallam, a trained assassin who goes over the edge.

"He's not just one-dimensional bad guy, or one dimensional good guy, you know, so we kept him kind of in the shadows. You know, is he a bad guy or is he not? And I think that that's kind of what's, like, cool about the movie," said del Toro.

He describes Hallam as a decorated soldier from the Special Forces who struggles with his identity and snaps.

"He is kind of like a Frankenstein monster in some ways. I mean, someone created him and he's trying to find some ears so he can talk and explain what's going on. No one is lending an ear, so he finds himself on his own and trying to survive. They're coming after him," del Toro said.

The film is action-packed, raising questions such as once you train someone to kill, how can you stop the person, del Toro noted.

"How can you stop it? Can you? Can you leave it in the office? I don't know that you can," he says. "And a lot of people say it's very difficult. A lot of people suffer from that stuff; they've been through wars, and you know, they keep those demons in the closet, and one day, you know, something happens, I'm not saying everyone does. So it does have a little bit of depth and it's pretty realistic for the most part. Almost everything in there could have happened."

To prepare for his role, he says he spent a lot of time in knife-fighting training. "The movie's really about knife fighting," he said.

"I worked with this guy named Tom Cayer, and he has his training from the Philippines. We were already kind of like doing the picture so you know I would finish shooting, then go into the gym and start learning the moves and how to make that fight as realistic as possible," Del Toro said. "And it's pretty realistic, I mean, a knife fight would last much less than it actually lasts in the movie, but the moves, the injuries…"

Having insisted on doing his own stunts, he got injured during the shoot.

"That particular situation, it looked pretty simple. The ones that look easy are the ones that are going to get you hurt. And it looked pretty easy, and you know, it happens," he said.

He broke his wrist. "I think I went diving into the floor and Tommy came in and he landed on top of me and I landed on top of him. Does that make any sense?" he asked trying to explain.

Now that the incident is behind him; del Toro says he is more sensitive to his own mortality.

"Aware that you can get hurt. You know, you can get hurt with anything. You know, right now, we can get hurt with a microphone coming down, or this light coming down on my head" he said.

"The Hunted" opens nationwide Friday.

About Benicio Del Toro

  • Born Feb. 19, 1967 in Santurce, Puerto Rico.
  • Moved to a farm in Mercersburg, Pa., at age 13, when his mother died.
  • He studied at a boarding school and went on to major in business at the University of California, San Diego.
  • He then moved to New York and attended Circle in the Square Professional Theater School and Stella Adler Conservatory.
  • Then, he moved back to Los Angeles and made appearances on episodic TV series, such as "Miami Vice, Hard Copy," and "Shell Game."
  • In 1989, made his feature film debut in "Big Top Pee Wee" as Duke, the dog-faced boy.
  • In 1999, he appeared in the Emmy-winning TV miniseries "Drug Wars: The Camarena Story." He starred as a brutally menacing drug lord.
  • In 1995, he wrote and directed the short film "Submission," starring Matthew McConaughey in the tale of a drug deal. It was screened at the Venice Film Festival.
  • 1995 was the year of his breakthrough performance as Fred Fenster in "The Usual Suspects," directed by Bryan Singer. The film won two Academy Awards: Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Kevin Spacey.
  • In 1997, he had one role as a leading man of "Excess Baggage" starring Alicia Silverstone. He played a car thief who unwittingly becomes a kidnapper in the critical and commercial disappointment. It was notable for the fact Silverstone was the producer of the film and fought for del Toro to get the leading man role.
  • Other notable films include: Sean Penn's directorial debut "The Indian Runner" (1991); "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" (1992); Rosie Perez's confused husband in "Fearless" (1993); "The Fan", starring Wesley Snipes and Robert DeNiro, "The Funeral", and "Basquait" (1996); "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (1998).
  • In 2000, he released three films: "The Way of the Gun" co-starring Ryan Phillippe, "Traffic," and "Snatch" (which was released in one theater in Los Angeles to qualify for Academy Awards).
  • Del Toro was awarded Best Supporting Actor by the Academy, Golden Globes, the New York Film Critics Circle, Toronto Film Critics, San Diego Film Critics Association, Las Vegas Film Critics, On-Line Film Critics, and National Society of Film Critics for "Traffic."
  • He is currently in production of "21 Grams," costarring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts.