Benicio del Toro has no regrets about being replaced by Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek

The Sicario star talks drug movies, moving on and his lifelong love of Star Wars

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A few years ago, Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch played baddie Khan in the second modern Star Trek film (aka Star Trek Into Darkness), and a million gifs were born.

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But what some people may not know is that originally a very different actor was tipped for the role – Oscar-winner Benicio del Toro, who left the project in his early stages and has now opened up about the experience.

“I saw him in the film, yeah– he was very good,” the actor told RadioTimes.com.  “A very good actor. But, no, I don’t regret it. 

“You gotta have short-term memory in this business. If it didn’t work out, you know – too bad, move on.”

That moving on eventually brought del Toro to Sicario, a new film dealing with the war on drugs that co-stars British actress Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin (who previously appeared with del Toro in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy). So what’s it all about?

“Sicario means hitman – and this is a movie about an American semi-covert operation that goes over the border to Mexico to get a drug Lord,” the actor explained. “In that journey, it will grab you emotionally, and it will shake you and in the end you make your decision if it was for the better good, or not.”

Del Toro went to discuss his relationship with drug-based crime films, having previously won an Oscar for his role in drug drama Traffic and appearing in other similarly-themed movies including Escobar: Paradise Lost and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. 

“I think that movies, they borrow from their times,” he said. “In the 30s during prohibition, there were a lot of movies made that dealt with gangsters.”

“So…why am I in so many? Because I’m an actor of this time. Drug movies have become a genre in a way, like westerns.”

Sicario has garnered praise in reviews (including from Radio Times) and could be an Oscar contender next year – but it’s del Toro’s next project that most people are even more excited by, with the actor set to play a (possibly villainous) role in an upcoming Star Wars film. Episode 8 (which will come out in 2017) has only just started filming, though, so del Toro currently remains tight-lipped about his role in it.

“I’m kind of just starting,” he told RadioTimes.com. “I can’t talk too much about the character.”

However, he would discuss his lifelong connection to the sci-fi franchise, beginning when he saw the very first movie as a boy.

“I grew up liking the Star Wars films,” he said. “They’re like maybe five or six movies that I remember exactly when I went to see it, how many times I went to see it. Like, Rocky, Jaws, Animal House…Trading Places. Pappillon, though that’s a little bit earlier. And Star Wars!”

“I loved the mythical aspect of it, that good vs evil. That first movie is one of the landmarks in my movie-going experience.”

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Sicario is in cinemas now