Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro, 36, doesn’t have little ones running around his home just yet, but in the new comedy “What to Expect When Your Expecting,” his role offers an interesting insight into the world of parenthood.
In the film, which is adapted from the bestselling book of the same name, Santoro plays Alex, a man who is unsure whether or not he is ready to be a father when his wife Holly (Jennifer Lopez) decides she would like to adopt a baby. To help him understand what fatherhood is all about, Alex spends time with a support group made up of new dads to see first-hand the challenges that come with raising children.
During an interview with me, Santoro, who has starred in such films as “300” and “Love, Actually,” talked about how he thinks a parenting manual like “Expecting” can help future parents, and whether or not his role in the film encouraged him to start a family of his own.
When you heard about this film, did you know it was being adapted from what is essentially a guidebook on parenting?
I had heard about the book beforehand, but when my agent sent me the script I didn’t put it together. I wasn’t very familiar with the book, maybe because I’m not a father yet. It was interesting because right after I read the script I was having dinner with my sister and I told her about the movie and she was like, “What’s it called again?” I said, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” Then she went into her room and brought out the book. Then I started to put everything together and realized it was this huge bestseller and that every woman in the world has read it.
I know you’re not a father, but do you think books like this can help out new parents?
I think they can. That’s what I hear. My sister says it was very helpful. You take from it whatever helps you. It’s not something that’s going to take away your fears or expectations, but it will certainly teach you some stuff and give you some comfort at some level, especially if you’re feeling a little lost. I’ve heard a lot of pregnant women really think it’s very helpful.
What did you like about your character Alex and what he brought to the story?
Well, first of all, I’m Brazilian, so usually when I get a script it’s for a Latin or foreign character. When I was reading the script I was looking for a “José” or a “Juan” and I couldn’t find it. I also really liked Alex and Holly’s storyline about adoption. I thought it was interesting. There is a whole journey for Alex. I think he represents many men all over the world who don’t know if they are ready to be a father. They want children but are scared and aren’t ready to make a commitment.
Your co-star Jennifer Lopez said in an interview that this role make her understand adoption a lot more. Did it do the same for you?
I think I had an idea before about adoption. I always thought it was a beautiful thing, but I never really stopped to think about how it really feels to do that. What is it like to adopt a child that you don’t know? With this movie, I have the opportunity to do that. I put myself in those shoes and really tried to feel and explore that situation. It was a very touching experience. It definitely changed my perception and my sensibility on it.
Did this film make you think about your own future and whether or not it would include children?
Well, I’ve always wanted to have kids, but I would never put pressure on myself. I don’t think it should be an obligation. I think it should be something natural. I think it should happen whenever you feel that it’s right and you meet someone that makes sense to build a family with. It hasn’t happened to me, but I’m open and looking forward to it. But I’m not in a hurry.