Benicio Del Toro talks ‘A Perfect Day’ and how ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ changed his life

Benicio Del Toro is one of the most talented actors of his generation, with an onscreen smolder and sly sex appeal that's all but peerless among his contemporaries. In the actor's latest film A Perfect Day, he turns in another winning performance as Mambrú, an aid worker toiling in the Balkans during the Yugoslav Wars. I spoke to the actor via phone about the film, as well as his acting style, his music “addiction” and how Guardians of the Galaxy changed his life. Below you can find the highlights from our conversation. 

He credits roles in films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars Episode VIII for giving him the freedom to make smaller movies like A Perfect Day.

“I'm lucky that I did that movie Guardians of the Galaxy, and I'm able to do independent movies like A Perfect Day and movies in between. That really gives me freedom, and I'm gonna be part of the Star Wars franchise. I'm to travel to England to shoot sometime in the spring.”

Since starring as The Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy, he has frequently been accosted by…collectors.

“What I've noticed is if I get accosted by some of these memorabilia collectors, they pull out a lot of pictures of The Collector for me to sign. That's a difference that I've seen. The Collector kind of comes out and dominates some of the other film memorabilia that the people want me to sign.”

The key to his seemingly effortless acting style? Time.

“You gotta practice a lot. Meaning I've got 20-some years of me doing this in front of the camera, and I think I'm starting to understand it in a way…doing it for this long, you're a little bit more comfortable in front of that camera. I don't think it's something that I work at, you know? That I really actually sit down or meditate or anything like that, but it's something that over the years …you've been there, done that in a way, and you feel a little bit more comfortable. And it takes time to do that in film. It takes time to start feeling comfortable.”

He's a  music “addict.” [See our conversation about David Bowie.]

“I'm an addict. I've been listening to music since I was a kid and still do, and it does pump me up sometimes or relaxes me or helps me get through something. While we were doing this movie, the director [Fernando León de Aranoa] was a big fan of Bruce Springsteen and knew him well. So…I was listening to The River and also we were shooting in the south of Spain, and the south of Spain has [a lot of] flamenco, but also kind of like the lead singer of The Clash, Joe Strummer, lived and played down in Grenada, and lived in Spain and Grenada, and was there, so, you know, [we played] some Clash. The soundtrack [in the film] was great, I like that last song [near the end of the film]…with Marlene Dietrich doing that Pete Seeger song ['Where Have All the Flowers Gone?'].”

A Perfect Day is in theaters today.