From the Prince Charming, Rodrigo Santoro has more than the
pretty face. The life of Globo’s actor is worthy of fairy tales.
Poor boy tries luck in Rio de Janeiro, works on TV, gets famous
and becomes first great Brazilian star since Sônia Braga to have
a possibility of success in Hollywood. Invited to star
blockbusters like Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle or artistic
movies like Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and comedies like Love
Actually, soon Santoro it will stop to impress only the
Brazilian public to also conquer the American, the French, the
English, the Canadian...
It is obvious that, nowadays, the world can seem vast and inviting. But around ten years ago, Santoro’s world was resumed to the historical streets and the mountain climate of Petrópolis, in Rio de Janeiro state, where he was born and spent most of childhood. Of his Italian father, he inherited the hot blood, the ability to prepare pasta and the stunning almond-shaped eyes. Of his mother, painter and sculptor, came other characteristics that would help him in the future career: sensitivity and passion for the arts.
Rodrigo Santoro showed interest for the stage since his childhood. At home, he organized puppet theater for the family on holidays, like Christmas and Easter. In Colégio Aplicação, where he studied, with help of a Portuguese professor, he adapted TV movies to what they used to call “litero-musical session (to have an idea, Rodrigo, today all serious, at that time amused himself staging teen-trash as Private Resort). In stage, he had an incredible magnetism and it’s from this time his first girlfriend, at 14 years old. Santoro usually says that, after her, he had only two others serious passions despite gossip magazines always placing him aside to some beauty.
As it usually happens to suburban young people, by the time of his 17th birthday, Santoro started to notice that the axle of its life if had dislocated to Rio De Janeiro. His journeys down the mountain were every time more frequent: to surf with friends, to study for the “vestibular” (Brazilian equivalent of SATs) or to practise his dramatical verve in the Globo School of Actors. Working with these three activities the body, mind and spirit, it was only matter of time until Santoro was noticed by some network watcher.
Santoro started college studying Publicity/Advertising in the Pontifical University Catholic and soon obtained its first role on TV, a small part in the supernatural soap opera Olho no Olho. At this time, he still lived in a students dorm - from where he had run away after almost being shot by a lost bullet in its first apartment, in front for a “favela” in Copacabana. Things started to get better in 1994, when he got his first part in Prime Time, with the Pátria Minha soap opera. The show, however, was rejected by the public and shortened after scandals with the protagonist, the actress Vera Fischer. With the money he got from Pátria Minha, he rented his own apartment, in Leblon, where he can still be seen training daily in the beach.
In 1996, its magnificent body of 1m90 and 87kg already attracted the eyes of little girls, what ended up guaranteeing the main male role on the six o’clock soap O Amor Está no Ar. The project, involving a loving triangle intergeneration and extra-terrestrials, only brought him trouble: due to the filming schedule, he had to leave college and the final result of the story was not good at all. To compensate the loss of artistic ambition of O Amor está no Ar, Santoro participated, in the same year and for free, of praised short Depois do Escuro.
Two years later, Rodrigo Santoro hit the screens, the media that would give him more prizes and homages. He had a small part in Como Ser Solteiro, that ended up being overcasted by his better and very more excellent performance, in Globo’s miniseries Hilda Furacão. It was there that Santoro, in the part of the tormented Friar Malthus, showed for the first time that he could be a serious actor, instead of only a pretty face.Rodrigo still thinks that this was one of the most difficult experiences of its life, due to the dramatical load of the character. He went through this phase with an actress that also had to prove herself more than a beautiful face in the business: Ana Paula Arósio.
Some said that the two were dating, but Rodrigo Santoro was already spending much more time with the beautiful Luana Piovani, that he met in the play Os Três Mosqueteiros, also played by his friends Thierry Figueira, Pedro Vasconcelos and Marcelo Faria. Their relationship lasted more than two years.
In 1999, the actor started flirting with Hollywood when invited to be the voice of the little mouse protagonist of Stuart Little, huge success that had a sequel in 2002 (also voiced by Santoro). Still in 1999, Santoro had a role in the soap Suave Veneno, another public failure, and a small part in O Trapalhão e a Luz Azul, well-succeeded comedy by Renato Aragão, Brazilian comedian.
The first big role in the movies would come with Bicho de Sete Cabeças (Brainstorm), of Laís Bodasnky, in 2001. The first public exhibition ending up to be symptomatic for Santoro: when he and the director went to present the movie in the Brasilia Festival, he was booed due to his role in the idiotic soap Estrela-Guia, with the singer Sandy as the leading actress. Nobody took him seriously. But, to the end of the session, the public was mesmerized with his interpretation as a young man kept unjustly in a cruel psychiatric clinic, and gave him a standing ovation. It was considered by critics one of the best movies of the year and was worth to Santoro the invitation to work in another movie that would equally be praised: Abril Despedaçado (Behind The Sun), by Walter Salles, which was nomitaded for Best Foreign Film in 2002 Golden Globes.
A national consensus was formed on his talent and persistence (that would be proved in another project of a great director: Carandiru, by Hector Babenco, where he would live a travesty), and Santoro started to expand his horizon. A Canadian director, who saw him in a special exhibition of Bicho de Sete Cabeças went crazy trying to contact the actor to have Rodrigo in his new film, Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. The director finally obtained Rodrigo’s father personal telephone and, when the actor knew about it, he accepted the invitation in the hour. He filmed in Rome for two months aside of names as Helen Mirren (of Gosford Park), Anne Bancroft (of The Graduate) and Maggie Smith (of Harry Potter series).
Almost simultaneously, Rodrigo Santoro received another proposal he could not reject. While divulging Abril Despedaçado in Los Angeles, he was contacted by Columbia Pictures executives who wanted to offer to a special participation in blockbuster Charlie's to it Angels 2: Full Throttle.
The dream of a Brazilian in Hollywood had become truth. There was a true national commotion, all applauding the actor and even creations of rumors, like his caliente relationship with colleague Cameron Diaz. Some even said that he had stolen the model Gisele Bündchen from Leonardo DiCaprio. Both rumors, however, were not true. It is fact, however, that the colleagues melt themselves in compliments to the beautiful Brazilian hunk. The director of Charlie's Angels 2, McG, called him hottie, brave and very exciting.
Rodrigo Santoro's presence in a gigantic project as Charlie's Angels 2 helped to open other doors for Santoro, in Hollywood. He was already casted for another movie, the romantic comedy Love Actually, with Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman and Rowan Atkinson. Once more, only stars.
In the middle of this fame, success and money tempest, Rodrigo Santoro tries to remain calm and humble. He still practices meditation and sports when it’s possible and had refused to move to Los Angeles. His home is really at Rio de Janeiro – a shelter where he can listen to The Doors, read William Shakespeare and watch all movies of his favorite actors, like Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. The way things are moving to Santoro, soon he’ll enjoy his favorites side by side, on a filming set in Hollywood. It’s only a matter of time.
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