There are other hot properties coming out of Brazil besides Gisele Bundchen, who just gave birth to baby daughter Vivian.
It’s Rodrigo Santoro, best known as Jim Carrey’s lover in I Love You Phillip Morris (partially filmed in Miami) and Jennifer Lopez’s boyfriend in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. In theaters now: a star turn in Heleno, based on the life of doomed soccer player Heleno de Freita, who died of syphilis in a sanatorium at age 39 in 1959. Santoro will also appear in Last Stand with Arnold Schwarzenegger and a sequel to 300: The Rise of an Empire, reprising his role as Xerxes.
How much did you know about Heleno before filming?
I wasn’t familiar with his career, but as soon as I started researching him I became fascinated with his life and his importance to Brazilian soccer history. My whole generation didn’t know his story because he was huge. . . . He is this soccer myth that was sort of lost in time.
How do you like playing a real person?
It’s definitely different. On one hand, you have all the material and references to help you create the character, but that also comes with a big responsibility. I ended up getting very involved artistically with the development of the project and coproducing. The physical preparation was basically soccer training, dancing classes, and I had to drop 30 pounds in order to portray him when he was terminally ill.
How do you like working in black and white?
I was very supportive of this idea since the beginning of the process. It’s a period piece, the 1940s, and it helps the audience to travel in time and also builds an interesting atmosphere. Somehow the absence of color helps to focus the attention on what’s happening with the characters.