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.

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