Rodrigo Santorio – The Last Stand

January 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

In “The Last Stand,” actor Rodrigo Santoro (“What to Expect When You’re Expecting”) plays Frank Martinez, a small-town deputy who comes to the aid of the sheriff (Arnold Schwarzenegger) when the leader of a dangerous drug cartel makes a run for the Mexican border.

Tell us about your character Frank Martinez?

We kind of built this back story for the character. He’s a veteran who came back from war and had a hard time adjusting. He was always a little lost in life. He was supposed to be this big athlete but he never took it serious. Anyway, the sheriff – Arnold’s character – gives him the opportunity to redeem himself.  He feels strong about going after the bad guy and stopping him.

Why did you want to be a part of the film?

Well, first of all, I grew up watching Arnold’s movies like “Terminator” and “Conan.” All those movies were huge for me. It’s been a while since he’s shot a movie, but it was great to get the opportunity to work with him now that he is back. Also, they told me about the director (Jee-woon Kim). I had seen his work before. He’s an incredibly talented South Korean director. When I heard he was going to direct this, the combination just seemed very appealing to me.

How do you think Arnold did coming back to the big screen after his stint in politics?

He did great. I really like the way he played this role. He doesn’t take himself too serious. He makes the whole thing about aging and I think that’s very smart. He’s not trying to be who he was a long time ago. I really loved the way he developed the character. He brings a lot of comedy, humanity, and vulnerability to the role.

This is Jee-woon Kim’s first American film. What does he bring to the industry?

He’s a visionary. The pace of the movie is great. It looks fantastic. The action sequences are incredibly well done. The camerawork is amazing. But he understands that it’s very important to also have characters. It’s not all about the action. The audience need to connect with these characters on a human level. [Kim] really invested in that. We talked so much about my character – the details and very little things that would make a difference at the end.

We’re going to see you this summer reprising your role as Xeres in the sequel to “300.” Did you approach the character the same way you did for the original?

This is the first time I revisit a character. It had been about six years [since the original]. It was a challenge. This time we’re going to have a little bit of [Xeres’] back story. I had to match him and be the same character, but I also had to give him something fresh.

The Last Stand

January 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville
Directed by: Kim Ji-Woon (“I Saw The Devil”)
Written by: Andrew Knauer (debut)

After spending eight years as the Governor of California, action-star Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to the big screen in “The Last Stand.” When a dangerous druglord escapes the custody of the FBI during transportation, he devises a plot to escape to the US/Mexico border through the quiet, small town of Summerton Junction. When former LAPD cop and current Sherriff Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) finds out, he decides to round up a small team and do everything he can to stop the dangerous criminal.

Schwarzenegger returns to the screen with the type of charisma that made him a bonafide action star in the 80s and 90s. Of course, with that comes unintelligible lines and some very poorly acted scenes, but that is ultimately part of the package and really the charm of his performances. The cast is rounded out with a few comedic actors to wedge between the violence. Luis Guzman and Johnny Knoxville both get a few decent one-liners out but don’t really add much to the film overall.

In his previous Korean films, most notably in “The Good, the Bad, the Weird,” director Kim Ji-Woon has shown a great knack for constructing unique and exceedingly entertaining action sequences. In his American debut, Ji-Woon sticks mostly to car chases, flying bullets and blood spray. While a few scenes of excessive violence are amusing, the amount of action and pure fun never quite reaches the levels seen in previous films. In fact, the mayhem is pretty standard fare when compared to his other projects.

The introduction of the “escaped fugitive” plot is where the film begins to lose steam. What is supposed to be a captivating creative action sequence is actually quite boring. From here, the film begins to become stale. Bad plots, (complete with massive holes), bad dialogue, and even a few scenes of shoehorned and inauthentic emotion plague most of the movie. The final showdown of the film, while the best part of the movie, is also ultimately a let down.

With his rising age and lack of acting chops, it will be interesting to see where Schwarzenegger’s career will go from here. “The Last Stand” wears out it’s jokes at the expense of Arnold’s age, so any forthcoming reference in other films will be immediately passé. While “The Last Stand” delivers on its promise of gunfire and explosions, it does so in unimpressive and unmemorable fashion. While Schwarzenegger’s presence is entertaining, the story just isn’t interesting enough.

Rodrigo Santoro – What to Expect When You’re Expecting

May 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

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.

Rodrigo Santoro – There Be Dragons

May 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

While Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro admits he does not have a formula he uses when choosing his next role in a film, he does make a conscious decision that the work he is doing is helping him learn and evolve in his craft.

“I take a role because it makes sense to me, rationally,” Santoro, 35, told me during an interview for his new film “There Be Dragons.” “I don’t want to be in a position where I’m playing roles I’m comfortable with and making money, but doing it without feeling like I’m growing.”

In “There Be Dragons,” Santoro stars as Oriol, a militia leader during the Spanish Civil War who catches the eye of a Hungarian revolutionary (Olga Kurylenko). The film, which is directed by two-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker Roland Joffé (“The Killing Fields”), also tells the story of Josemaria Escrivá (Charlie Cox), a young priest who later becomes the founder of the Opus Dei.

During our interview, Santoro, who is also known for his roles in “Love Actually,” “300,” and “Che,” talked about the extensive research it took to play his character and what he thinks about some of the controversy surrounding the film.

How much of the Spanish Civil War were you familiar with before you joined this project and what kind of research did you do for the role?

I was familiar with what I learned at school, but it was only the basics. I did some very long and deep research on the war. I was in Brazil at the time and there’s this place called Instituto Cervantes (named after “Don Quixote” author Miguel de Cervantes). The Instituto provided me with so much information – books, articles, films, references, and classes. You can study the Spanish Civil War forever. There is endless information on the topic. It’s pretty intense.

Tell me about your character. Was there really a revolutionary named Oriol who fought in the Spanish Civil War or was he inspired by someone else?

Oriol is a fictional name and a fictional character, but he is a representation of all those anarchists. Oriol’s story is that he’s a peasant working the land and waiting his whole life for the revolution. When it finally comes, he totally gets into it body and soul. He is a very brave man – a man of the people. He represents all of those guys.

Some critics of the film are calling it propaganda for the Opus Dei. Do you have any thoughts on some of the controversy behind the film?

I don’t feel like that. I think this film is about faith, betrayal, love, and redemption. I think that’s the film [director] Roland [Joffé] tried to make. Films are made to express life in all its facets. You can never expect to make everyone happy.

How does faith and religion play into your personal life? Were you able to sympathize with the characters in the film who believe a path to God can be found in an ordinary life?

I’m a spiritual person. I’m not very religious. I was raised Catholic, but I am influenced a lot by Buddhism and Hinduism.

How is a film rooted in so much faith like “There Will Be Dragons” affected since it is directed by a filmmaker who is a self-described agnostic?

When I started working with Roland I didn’t ask him about his religion. It wasn’t about that. It was about the amazing artist he is and the movies he had done before like “The Mission” and “The Killing Fields.” We talked about my character and the big conflict he is going through during war. That’s where my focus was as an actor. All my energy was absolutely concentrated on how to tell a great story and nothing else.

Post Grad

August 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Alexis Bledel, Zach Gilford, Michael Keaton
Directed by: Vicky Jenson (“Shark Tale”)
Written by: Kelly Fremon (debut)

It’s no secret college graduates nationwide are having one heck of a time landing a dream job. Even with a fresh degree and a go-getter attitude, finding a career in today’s market is like finding a script in Hollywood without the words “remake,” “reboot,” or “sequel” attached to it. Once you’ve found one, hold onto it tight because chances are another might not come along for a while.

That’s what makes a film like “Post Grad” such a disappointment. Somewhere inside the pages of the predictable and fruitless script, there’s a real story about what it must be like for a young woman to graduate from college jobless, helpless, and hopeless. It’s unfortunate that director Vicky Jenson (“Shark Tale”) and first-time screenwriter Kelly Fremon couldn’t find it amid the clichés and stale characters that mute the entire point of the narrative.

In “Post Grad,” recent college graduate Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel) thinks she has it all figured out. Actually, she’s had it all figured out for a while. Even as a little girl, her life plan is something she always intended to follow. With high school and college behind her, the next step is to secure a position at one of L.A.’s most respected publishing houses.

When things don’t go quite as she wants, Ryden hesitantly moves back in to live with her parents Walter and Carmella (Michael Keaton and Jane Lynch), little brother Hunter (Bobby Coleman), and Grandma Maureen (Carol Burnett, who is completely wasted as the coffin-shopping granny) until she can find a job and move out on her own.

There to comfort Ryden during her pity party at home is best friend Adam (Zach Gilford), who wishes he could be more than a shoulder to cry on, and the hunky Brazilian neighbor David (Rodrigo Santoro), who is basically written into the script to give Adam someone to envy and to spout off motivational nonsense as Ryden tries to understand her place in the big scary world.

While Ryden starts off as a respectable character and one that might have actually been able to break all romantic comedy stereotypes, Fremon slowly but surely presses her back into that exact mold. Who could have guessed that someone as well-educated, independent, and charming as Ryden would morph into the one person a girl like her probably despised back when she had a brain in college?

Sadly, Jenson and Fremon don’t respond to her sudden change in principles. It’s all go-with-the-flow from there as “Post Grad” goes from slightly empowering to shamefully unrealistic. Like everything else these days, it would probably be best if Jenson and Fremon blamed this one on the economy.