March 11, 2011 / 3:23 AM / 8 years ago

Benicio del Toro debuts as director in Havana film

HAVANA (Reuters) - Puerto Rican Oscar-winner Benicio del Toro made his debut as a director this month, filming in Cuba a segment of the movie “Seven Days in Havana.”

He said on Thursday directing was not that much different from acting.

“It’s going to the story and it’s asking questions,” he said at news conference in the Cuban capital.

Del Toro, who won an Oscar in 2001 for his role in Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic,” directed a segment called “El Yuma” about an American actor traveling to the island for a seminar.

It features U.S. actor Josh Hutcherson, 18, who has played in films such as “Bridge to Terabithia” and “Little Manhattan.”

He gave a pat on the back to Del Toro’s directorial style.

“The way that Benicio works, it’s relatively easy to work with him,” Hutcherson said.

Del Toro, 44, has been in Havana before, preparing for his role as Argentine rebel Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Soderbergh’s 2008 movie “Che.”

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who Guevara fought alongside in Cuba’s 1959 revolution, praised his performance and in July 2008 Del Toro came to Havana to receive a lifetime achievement award.

Making his directorial debut was a “dream come true,” Del Toro said.

“Seven Days in Havana” is French-Spanish production that presents a contemporary portrait of the city, producer Alvaro Longoria told reporters.

It has six other segments, directed individually by Julio Medem, Laurent Cantet, Pablo Trapero, Gaspar Noe, Elia Suleiman and Juan Carlos Tabio.

The cast includes Cuban actors Vladimir Cruz and Jorge Perugorria, best known internationally for their roles in the 1993 film “Strawberry and Chocolate.”

Reporting by Rosa Tania Valdes; Editing by Jeff Franks and Eric Beech

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