CS Video Interview: Rodrigo Santoro on Heleno

Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro worked for nearly a decade in his native country before some of his movies started making their way here, most notably Walter Salles’ Behind the Sun and the prison drama Carandiru, but it was his role as Xerxes in Zack Snyder’s 300 that really got him attention in North America, followed by a short stint on the hit ABC drama “LOST.”

In his new movie Heleno, Santoro plays Heleno de Freitas, one of Brazil’s most famous soccer players during the ’40s and ’50s whose womanizing and clubbing ways led to his downfall years later, as his dreams were crushed and he ended up dying of syphilis. It’s a really groundbreaking performance by Santoro, playing Heleno on the field, in the bedroom with the various women he slept with and then going through a startling transformation for Heleno’s later years.

ComingSoon.net spoke with Santoro and besides talking about the movie and his involvement, he also spoke to us about next year’s 300: Rise of an Empire, which isn’t a prequel or a sequel but actually takes place around the same time as Zack Snyder’s 2008 movie. Having shot his scenes in Bulgaria over three weeks earlier this year, he talked about returning to the role of Xerxes, which you can see in the video interview below as well as telling us:

* Why he decided to make the movie
* Why Heleno was important to Brazilian soccer
* How he got involved as a producer and what that entailed
* Whether he thought it was important to do a Brazilian movie
* How he prepared for the role
* More about Heleno and his many nicknames including “Prince Cursed”
* How he lost 28 lbs. for the later years in Heleno’s life
* Whether he considers Heleno to be a tragic hero
* Why Heleno behaved the way he did, making enemies of his teammates
* How they got information from his letters to get into his way of thinking
* Returning as Xerxes in the 300 sequel/prequel which actually takes place during the same time as the original movie:

“I had to shave, I had to work out again, I had to go back to Xerxes. It’s the same character. There’s little new things–a little before, a little after–but most of the movie, it’s duringÂ… kind of the same time where the first movie takes place. There’s a lot going on. It’s hard, the green screen, it’s a different way of working. It’s really challenging to work that way and the character wears a lot and Xerxes is a giant. He’s almost not human, which is a poetic license. It comes from a graphic novel so it’s not based in real history, so that character is very very tall and his voice is like thunder and that’s the description of this character. So there’s a couple special FX and tricks that have to be done to accomplish that figure so I do scenes by myself. It’s interesting, it’s a lot of work.”

When asked about new director Noam Murro of Smart People, Santoro said he hasn’t seen much of the movie with the finished CG backgrounds, but Murro had storyboards and knew what he wanted to do with it and Snyder is completely involved both as writer and producer.

We also spoke about meeting Frank Miller and the irony that Santoro has a movie about a soccer player opening the same day as his 300 combatant Gerard Butler, doing his first real action film (where he does stunts and is part of the action) with The Last Stand opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, and more. Santoro also said he’s going to start something at the beginning of February, but he couldn’t say anything about that project.

Heleno opens in New York, Los Angeles and Miami on Friday, December 7.

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