What To Expect When You're Expecting's Rodrigo Santoro Talks Getting Ready For Kids
The decision to have a child is one of the biggest that most of us will ever have to make. Thereís an endless number of things to consider, from whether or not you are economically stable enough or even competent enough to care for a child. Itís a decision that Rodrigo Santoroís character, Alex, is forced to make in the upcoming What To Expect When Youíre Expecting and I recently had the chance to sit down with him one-on-one to talk about it.
Check out the interview below in which Santoro talks about not only the struggle of the expecting period, but also what drew him to the project, his personal history with multi-storied romantic comedies, and his preparation for 300: Battle of Artemisia
What was it about this script and the character of Alex that attracted you to this project?
I really found interesting the characterís journey. I think he does have a journey in the movie where he starts out really feeling heís not ready, heís really scared about the whole thing, and above everything I think heís having a good time with his wife and heís like, ďWhy change that?Ē They have tried to have kids in the past, she couldnít have kids, itís not that he doesnít want kids, itís just that it has it has passed and why change the great time that theyíre having together right now? And she wants to adopt a kid, which is more of a delicate process and for him it feels very far away and itís not something that heís ready to embrace. He sent to the Dudeís Group, which is the fun part of it, and then slowly, when he first gets there heís not into it Ė he doesnít having them, a kid, he doesnít really understand whatís going on. Theyíre all crazy guys, dads and but slowly, as the whole process of the adoption starts to happen and he starts to panic. And so he needs help and that need makes him get more and more involved and really going through with this transformation where, at the end, he will learn that heís just scared but he will do it for the love he feels for his wife.
So heíll do it for her. Thereís a beautiful moment where heís going to go, ďYeah, letís do it!Ē but he just opens himself and just says, ďIím just scared.Ē And thatís such a natural thing! Guys, especially at that age, youíre not really ready to commit, but then it just raises the question what is left to get ready? Weíre never ready. Thereís no rehearsal in your life, so you canít say, ďOh yeah, yeah Iím ready.Ē What is it like to be ready? You have to face it and go for it. So I thought the whole storyline was really interesting, I didnít know a lot about adoption, as well. You always think, wow, itís so beautiful and itís an act of love to adopt somebody, and really give love to that little person. So the whole thing was very interesting for me. And then I found out I would be playing Jennifer [Lopez]ís husband, and I think that sheís just incredibly talented and that would be fun. And it was. She was really great. Really great.
That actually brings me right to my next question, which is that in a romantic movie you have to have chemistry with your scene partner. How did you work with Jennifer in that respect?
It just happened. We met the day, maybe two days before shooting. We actually had met before, we did a photo shoot for Vanity Fair where they tried to recreate West Side Story. And I played opposite her. But it was fast and we didnít really get a chance to know each other. And, yeah, we met, we talked and she was very open. She was down to earth and we talked a bit about the backstory of the characters. And then the next day we were on set and she really helped me because she made me feel comfortable in that way. Letís have fun! Letís enjoy this! And chemistry is something that either you have it or you donít, and I think this situation is a great example. Because we didnít have time to build it, it kind of happened and we were at ease, letís have a good time. Thatís how we wanted it. It was great, man.
Before you were in this film you had a small part in Love, Actually, which was the movie that kind of launched this whole multi-storied romantic comedy subgenre. Knowing that, was there any hesitation on your part about doing another one?
No. Love, Actually is the first romantic comedy that I did, this is the second one. And itís been a couple years. I havenít done much at all in comedies, the other one was I Love You, Philip Morris, which isnít a ďcomedyĒ exactly. Iím new to it, I have nothing against it. I actually enjoy doing it. Itís such a light experience, but my background is a little different. Iím from independent, smaller, more dramatic films, but I didnít have any prejudice. Itís about the material. Itís about the character and the story and the experience, ďWhatís it going to be this experience?Ē Sometimes you get a look at it and every choice I make is based on, I use my rational part, I use my brain, but mainly itís about my instinct. I feel like doing this and it feels right. Iím excited to do it, I can picture how I can do this. Itís like when you meet somebody and become friends with that person, itís like chemistry, like we were talking about. It has to happen, and itís not always the same. There are no rules. Thereís no formula. ďOh, this is a comedy,Ē ďOh, I donít do genre movies,Ē ďI donít do dramaĒ Ö each project, each story, each film, each character itís a different story, and I approach them Ė the only thing thatís always the same is the way I approach them, which is let me read it, let me see how this material talks to me and how do I feel about and how do I feel about this character. Then I go from there.
It was great. Kirk is an inspiration because he is funny, first of all. Heís funny and he has that British sense of humor. Heís sweet Ė heís so sweet, heís such a gentleman, which is always great to work with because you want to have a pleasant experience and heís very particular. He let me improvise with Jennifer, we did have a chance to improvise here and there. But he also knew exactly what he wanted.
Is that important for you as an actor?
I have had different experiences before where directors would tell me exactly what they wanted or they would just let me flow with it and then they would come in and say one way or the other. I donít think there is such a thing as the one right way to do it. Each process is different, and as long as youíre in tune with the director and thereís trust between you two, I think thatís the most important thing because when there isnítÖ I think films are a collaborative experience and itís always great when you can have that, when they are open to listening to what an actor has to say. But directors, at the end of the day they will say ďI want thisĒ and ďI want thatĒ Ė as they should. But itís great when you can exchange because I think that itís a richer experience for everyone.
I know I have to wrap up soon, but I did want to take the opportunity to ask you about the 300 prequel. Have you started your preparation process for the film yet?
Yes, I have. Weíre going to start shooting in July. I have started going to the gym. Itís a lot of work. People donít know how much work we have to put into this Ė especially for Xerxes. Itís not only about working out, but, you know, the character has a very specific look. People ask me, ďWere you bald?Ē I had to shave, workout, thereís five hours of makeup.
And all the piercings.
Piercings are all very delicate. So itís a lot to get there. Itís the first time that Iím returning to a character, Iíve never played the same character twice. Thatís interesting, I want to try and make this experience fresh, somehow for me. I want to find different layers. Letís see what the script is going to give me, because theyíre still working on it. Theyíre working on the last draft. Iím looking forward to show something to the fans that they havenít seen in the first one, in 300. Weíre all excited. The interesting thing about this is that theyíre not calling it a prequel or a sequel or a spin-off. Thereís a bit of what you saw in 300 and what happened a little bit before. Itís interesting the take they have on it.
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