Hipsters, fret not: If you wear a certain revolutionary T-shirt to the premiere of Steven Soderbergh’s two-part Che at the New York Film Festival, the film’s star, Benicio Del Toro, won’t make fun of you. People who wear the shirt, says Del Toro, “might not know the details, but I think they see that he’s full of dignity, a warrior who believed that he could fight for the helpless. You know, there’s an element of Batman to the guy.”
At Cannes, Del Toro earned the best-actor award for the four-hour-plus film. The first two hours cover Che’s rise in Castro’s Cuban revolution. The second half begins with what Del Toro calls Che’s “movie star” turn in front of the United Nations in 1964, followed by his Bolivian failure and CIA-backed assassination. “New York was the pinnacle of his stardom,” Del Toro says. “Then he went back down to South America to start from zero again. He didn’t sell out.” Del Toro, as you may have noticed, is a fan of Che, as well as an unapologetic defender. He was furious when he saw a news channel use an image of Che as an example of a terrorist. “He was against terrorism,” says Del Toro. “He never bombed cafés or stores. He fought against armies, usually stronger and bigger than him. You know, even Batman had to kill some bad guys.”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh.
New York Film Festival. Beginning September 26.