When he was little, the boyishly handsome Rodrigo Santoro remembers dressing up as Indiana Jones and performing skits with his cousins growing up in his native Brazil. However, it wasn’t until his second year of studying journalism in college when he realized he should be doing what most came natural to him – acting. Almost two decades later of building an eclectic international resume, he’s now starring in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” opening in theaters on May 18.
The comedic film, inspired by the New York Times bestseller of the same name, tells the stories of five different couples facing many challenges adjusting to pregnancy and parenthood. Santoro completes the Latino star-studded cast, including Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez.
“I got the script; I read it, but I actually didn’t know what character they were thinking for me,” says Santoro, who’s excited to watch the film for the first time tonight.
He says he ended up getting the character he liked the most, Alex, who plays Jennifer Lopez’ husband in the film.
“Our story line is basically my wife wants to adopt a kid and my character doesn’t feel ready,” he adds. “It represents many men around the world who feel they are not ready….It’s a very common situation, you’re having a great time, and if a kid comes, the whole thing is going to change.”
The 36-year-old bachelor says the journey of acting in this film opened up his eyes to the process of adoption. He really put himself into his character’s shoes and found it to be a touching experience thinking about how it would be and feel like.
“It’s a very beautiful and unselfish act of love…something really beautiful,” says Santoro.
He says that acting beside the more experienced Lopez made the journey lighter and easier since this is only his second comedy role after “I Love You Phillip Morris” with Jim Carrey.
“We had to play this couple that were really into each other,” says Santoro, who adds that that wasn’t hard at all since they had natural chemistry. “I’m really glad it worked.”
As far as his favorite role ever goes? He says it’s hard to pick just one.
“It’s like asking which is your favorite kid?,” says Santoro. “They all have their importance…the last one I did was “Heleno.”
He says starring in “Heleno” was close to his heart, because it tells the true life story of Brazilian soccer star icon, Heleno de Frietas. It was recently sold to ScreenMedia for U.S. distribution after its premiere at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival. He was awarded Best Actor last year for this film at the 2011 Havana Film Festival, and the movie had its U.S. premiere at the Miami Film Festival this past March.
Santoro says this was a very important and intense project for him, because it was the first movie he produced and it took five years to develop.
For now, he still considers Rio his home, but he spends time wherever work calls – be it Los Angeles, New York, Madrid or London.
“Last year I filmed an HBO movie coming out later this month – ‘Hemingway and Gelhorn’,” says Santoro. “I played a Spanish aristocrat who invites Hemingway to come to Spain because they were in the need of artists.”
He’s certainly been busy these days, but he says he hopes to find the love of his life and start a family of his own one day. That’s always been a part of his plan.