Rodrigo Santoro discussed the role of Joel Kelly in Hulu’s Reprisal which debuted today, the impact 300’s Xerxes had on his career, and finding inspiration everywhere as an actor at NYCC 2019.
Rodrigo Santoro, a memorable standout as Hector Escaton in Westworld and the one and only Xerxes in the 300 franchise is back on the scene once again! This time around, Santoro is playing Banished Brawler de facto leader Joel Kelly in Hulu’s Reprisal, which is available today for subscribers. During an interview, Santoro spoke about finding inspiration as an actor everywhere you go, mentioning how seeing a dog while doing recon for a role as a homeless man moved him.
Santoro described what it meant to him to play an Irish written character like Joel Kelly on Hulu’s Reprisal, where they didn’t change his character name to something more Latin sounding just to suit his Latin origin (Brazil). He spoke of how 300’s Xerxes definitely opened doors for him in his acting career but he didn’t want to raise his own expectations because that only leads down the road of frustration.
Watch the full interview with Rodrigo Santoro above or read the transcript below:
Nir Regev: What was it like after you portrayed the role of Xerxes in 300? Did you feel your career moved in the trajectory you were expecting?
Rodrigo Santoro: You know I try not to raise expectations in anything because I think that leads to frustration. We idealize things and then you know… I just try to do the best I can in my work and my life in general. But yes, since you mentioned Xerxes for those who saw 300 and Xerxes it was a big turning point for me. Absolutely! I got much more opportunities to work in the United States after that project but every role is a new challenge. I’m pretty happy where I am right now. You know the opportunities that I’ve been having. Especially, being a foreigner and I think we’re living in a very interesting moment right now.
I’m glad to be a part of it and to be here talking about a show where I play a character whose name is Joel Kelly. It’s not Raúl or Jamon. It’s not Latin, it’s not written Latin. I am Latin, I’m from Brazil. I’m playing a character that was written Irish. They didn’t change the name of the character. Joel Kelly is the de facto leader of the Banished Brawler. Doris’ brother who left her is Burt [Rory Cochrane] and he’s disappeared. He hasn’t been around for a while, and then Joel which was his right hand man, is in charge.
Does Reprisal have a big post-apocalyptic aesthetic? I mentioned Mad Max as a comparison to one of your co-stars earlier and he said it wasn’t really like that visually.
It’s hard to describe but it does have different references like from the 20s, from the 50s, from the 80s. We can’t place because we don’t know when it is. We don’t know where we are. It has a tone of like a fantasy to it, which allows us a tremendous amount of freedom. And also, I think at its core, this show is truly a revenge story revolving around the theme of family. Family you were born into and the family you find along the way. Family that you choose to be a part of. So, it’s really about the relationships of those characters. And then the era we’re in, we don’t know.
You have so many references Tarantino, David Lynch, people that have watched the pilot, you know journalists and people that have seen some of it… They have been describing it as David Lynch meets Tarantino. Great reference by the way, which we love! But it’s a hyper-noir kind of… The tone is just very unique. It’s something that I haven’t seen it you know out there.
When you say Tarantino do you mean cuts like Kill Bill style?
Kill Bill style, the way it’s shot, the way it’s written, especially the way it’s written! Our writer, creator Josh Corbin is in my opinion, a brilliant writer! And just the scenes that carry on, and then you don’t know where they’re going to go, and they’re just interesting to watch and very engaging. The characters are very, very engaging.
It’s an ensemble, every character’s interesting, every character has a back story and it’s going somewhere. They’re not just there. So, that’s what makes it very compelling. And I think people will quickly be engaged and they will get excited to actually binge it. And it will be available, all the episodes! So I think that will be a great experience.
I’m curious as an actor, do you like having all the episodes release at once or do you prefer the more traditional weekly episode? Do you check ratings yourself and that kind of thing?
Oh no, I don’t [check ratings]. I think that I’m getting used to the whole thing about having everything available at once. I take my own time. I have binged before, it depends how much time you have. But I think it depends. I don’t mind if they don’t come all at once but I kind of like to have them there. So, if I really get into it, I can just go through it and it’s a great journey when you just get hooked. You want to go to watch, you want to discover. You get really involved and that allows you to experience that.
Do you feel you prepare the same ritual wise as an actor? Do you have a kind of go-to method for each role you undertake?
Always different man! I don’t believe in formula, I think that every actor and even talking just for myself, every time is a bit different.
Well I like to research as much as I can. Actually because I really have fun. To me the most interesting part is actually beforehand. When you’re researching, when you’re trying to understand the universe of the character you’re gonna play, the world that you’re getting into, and watching films, seeing pictures, listening to music. All that good stuff that you do for research, to me, it’s such an interesting part of the process. But I don’t have a specific ritual that I go through every time.
One thing I do is to sort of like put myself into it… Let’s say, if you’re ever in a car, and you have the gear in neutral… I try to drive myself to the neutral place. So, I don’t have a preconceived concept or a pre-judgment of the character I’m gonna play, or the world that I’m about to step into. Let me be neutral so I don’t judge much. I research, I study.
Do you actively go to meet people related to the roles you’re portraying for inspiration?
Oh yeah, I try to do everything! It varies sometimes. You know, inspiration is an interesting thing. It could come from the least expected thing. One time, I was walking down the street, I was researching for a part that was a homeless man that I played. I just saw this dog on the street and it just moved me so much. It was a dog on the street. It just was very meaningful for me! Now, is this a method? Does that happen every time? No. It did happen that time.
So, I just try to be open, not judge, not try to put things in a box. I think you just have to be open to receiving and feeding yourself with as much as you can. And then you forget about everything and just do it!
Thank you Rodrigo!
Catch Rodrigo Santoro as Joel Kelly in Hulu’s original, exclusive series Reprisal starting today!
Charlotte Nicdao spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about Poppy’s endearing and eccentric personality quirks like a fascination with dinner parties and shovels on Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.
Charlotte Nicdao took a Myers-Briggs personality test in-character as Poppy to get into the role’s psyche on Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. Nicdao believes Poppy is the type of personality that can become a “mastermind” at any individual specific thing by being hyper-focused on it… But be terrible at everything else in the process. Hence, Poppy’s insistence on making her early season ideas of in-game dinner parties and a seemingly throwaway item like a shovel work.
During a roundtable press interview in New York City, The Natural Aristocrat discussed the makeup of Poppy’s personality with Charlotte Nicdao and why sometimes ‘a shovel’ is more than a shovel.
This interview contains minor spoilers for Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.
Interview with Charlotte Nicdao on Poppy:
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Poppy has these unique personality quirks about her like being exceptionally keen on dinner parties or even shovels. I think that says a lot about her character’s backstory. Do you feel it’s true that Poppy has never been to a dinner party before?
Charlotte Nicdao: We did have this idea that she’s incredibly intelligent but just can’t get her head around how to connect people. That’s the thing that Ian, Rob’s character, is really, really good at. And maybe part of the reason that Poppy isn’t able to get credit that she deserves. But Poppy just doesn’t really understand how other people function. I did this thing before we started shooting called a Myers-Briggs test for the character. You know those personality tests? I answered it the way that I thought that Poppy would answer it and it was fascinating what came out.
Poppy has a personality type, and I think this is really accurate to the character, who would become focused on one specific thing and become a mastermind at it. And it could be anything! So, this kind of person could choose to be social and be brilliant at it… But be terrible at everything else. And I think that’s who she is. Poppy’s the most brilliant coder in the world! Everything else is just a mess. (laughs)
Was the use of a shovel supposed to be a symbolic metaphor for always trying to kind of dig yourself out of Ian’s plans?
I didn’t think of it like that but I like that analogy! I think it was a really cool idea for me that Poppy is someone who’s basically been with the game since its inception… And is in charge of creating all these ideas that Ian has, turning them into something that’s playable. The thing that she holds dearest to her in the expansion, her beloved idea, is a tool that allows the players to do what she’s done: create something that’s lasting, that then other players can interact with. I thought that that was quite beautiful, which is not something that you would usually think of in association with a shovel.
There’s a part in Mythic Quest: Raven’s Quest where Poppy tells her boss David [David Hornsby], ‘you know that’s why your wife left you.’ That was pretty brutal! How did it make you feel to say those words?
Megan Ganz (Series Co-Creator/Writer/Executive Producer) came up with that on-set. She came up to me and was like, “When she says this, throw that in!” I love it when Megan is on-set, she gives me really good jokes!
Charlotte Nicdao on Social Media:
The Natural Aristocrat recently interviewed Charlotte Nicdao’s Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet co-star F. Murray Abraham (C.W. Longbottom) on his role and backstory on the series.
More Interviews at The Natural Aristocrat:
F. Murray Abraham spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about the backstory of C.W. Longbottom on Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, one of the definitive highlights of the new Apple TV+ series.
Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham’s ‘C.W. Longbottom’ is one of the top reasons to watch Apple TV+’s new gaming focused comedy series Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. C.W. Longbottom is a writer still living off the prime of his prose, providing backstories for the show’s ‘faux’ game Mythic Quest… While laying hints to the groundwork that led to ink on paper, including a lost love that led to a lengthy stay at a hospital. If you get the drift!
F. Murray Abrahjam’s uncanny pitch-perfect comedy timing is a driving force on the show’s opening episodes. During a roundtable press interview in New York City ahead of the show’s Apple TV+ premiere, The Natural Aristocrat discussed the mysterious C.W. with F. Murray Abraham and the vital importance of a backstory.
This interview contains minor spoilers for Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: My favorite part of your character C.W. is the mystery surrounding your own backstory while simultaneously being the giver of backstories. Throughout Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, C.W. peppers in these hints like the girl he had a fling with in Morocco inspiring him. Poppy [Charlotte Nicdao] yells at C.W. around episode 2, “Enough with the backstory!” As an actor, have you ever picked up a script in your career and thought there was too much backstory?
F. Murray Abraham: I could be flip and say everybody else is a back story. (laughs) I’ve worked with Harold Pinter, he directed me in my first Broadway show. That was a play that he bought, we became friends. He became friendly with quite a few people, he’s a good guy. He didn’t look like he was, he was called the Sphinx but in fact he was very funny. Anyway, we had a play of his that was being done in town at the same time, and he was overseeing it. It was an off-Broadway production and there was something wrong with it. We were looking at the script and talking about it… He said, ‘I want to cut this and I want to cut this and try this. It’s not working.’ I said, “You have to try it, you really have to try it and try it and try it before you throw it out.” Because I believe that the discovery is not over until it’s absolutely impossible.
In a time crunch business like this one, you don’t have that much time. So, going into it with a good script which is what these have been so far, is really essential. My backstory, I want to examine that more and more because what he represents when I’m talking about another century, which is what it is, another century. It was kind of the heyday in the 60s and 70s for writers. There was a lot of money being thrown around. So, if I said at that time because I had won a series of awards, my character, ‘Yes, I want to write this book but I want to write it in Morocco. I want to write it in New Orleans. I want to write it there.’ I mean C.W. could do that and it was a style. It was a way of living. It was fun to travel in those days and it was possible to introduce his idea of a back story, his idea of how much it meant.
I think that he was kind of coddled at the time. And he still is coddled in a way in this current situation, he’s looked after, kind of. He’s put up with for certain things. I feel that backstory is essential. Ms. (Ashley) Burch brought this up earlier, fighting for the back story is something that she does because she understands the value of it. I think it’s essential to the success of this series, that each of us starts to reveal their backstories because it’s not enough to see how friendly we are with each other. And we are by the way! We have to start seeing the characters fleshed out a little more. I would like to see something on my character’s tragedy. I would like to touch on that. Or a love. There is much to explore!
C.W. is my favorite character on Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, your comedy timing is so precise.
Thank you, I love the character! How can you not like playing this character? I’m a flamboyant actor to begin with. My favorite characters on stage have always been that kind of character. I love Opera and one of the reasons is the gesture. I think that the theatre is suffering because it’s too kitchen sink stuff. I think it’s more designed for a stage as a stepping stone to the movies and television. There’s nothing wrong with that but the essence of the theater, the size of the theater is missing. I think it’s necessary.
Circuses and Opera are fun because of that size. I live for it. But if you were to try to capture what it means to go to a Greek drama. Some Greek tragedy pick one, Oedipus. They really only lasted if you do them, the way they were supposed to be done written. It’s only about an hour long and at the end you’ve come out of this with a cathartic experience… But that can only be accomplished by the screaming and the Sturm und Drang on the sides. And I think this character still is attached to that world.
He’s funny because he’s absolutely sincere about it and I’m sincere too. But also he just has a good time, I think it’s important that he relishes this life. I think it’s one of the things that keeps him alive and keeps him functioning. What it does is keeps him youngish. I feel the same way about myself. I believe that the only way to stay young at least in your mind, in your heart, is to work with younger people and to continue to work. Some of us are not lucky enough to continue to work, to get to work.
I believe you can find the work, whether you are a famous actor or you are still struggling. As an older man in this business, there are so many theaters in New York, you will find a place to work if you put yourself out there. Even if it means reading plays. What I’m suggesting is that in this production, in this series, you have four generations of actors. I don’t think there is another show that can claim that. And it’s not just an old guy who happens to be peripheral. He really has something to say and it’s important to him, and it becomes important to the show.
But more importantly or as important, he has something to learn. And he’s not beyond learning! That’s an interesting aspect of this character, and that’s where Ashly (Burch) steps in because she takes it on herself… Without being snotty and nasty to me, to teach me how to do this. In return, I try to teach her what it’s like to work the classics into her work.
Just wanted to say, I really enjoy your work as Dar Adal on Homeland!
Oh man, those are some great scripts!
Watch Apple TV+’s new gaming development/streaming world comedy sitcom series Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet now.
Katharina Kubrick spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about the timeless nature of her father Stanley Kubrick’s films, the new ‘Envisioning 2001’ Exhibit at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), Stanley choosing Steven Spielberg to direct A.I. Artificial Intelligence, the Barry Lyndon threats, The Irishman’s de-aging tech, and much more.
It was a great honor for The Natural Aristocrat to interview Katharina Kubrick, daughter of Stanley Kubrick, about her late father’s lifetime of contributions to cinema at the Astoria, Queens based Museum of the Moving Image. New York City’s MoMI will be home of the Envisioning 2001: Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey Exhibition open now until July 19, 2020. Rarely does The Natural Aristocrat get sentimental but to be personally connected to Stanley Kubrick’s family and history in any fashion is truly surreal.
Katharina Kubrick discussed film as an art form, why her father’s work connects seamlessly with generation after generation, her favorite part of MoMI’s Envisioning 2001 Exhibit, Stanley as a family man, and questions film aficionados may be wondering about. Including: Would Stanley have embraced The Irishman’s de-aging technology? What ultimately made Stanley decide to hand directing of A.I. Artificial Intelligence to friend Steven Spielberg? The details of the threats made during production of Barry Lyndon, and the tragedy that made Stanley abandon flying.
Watch the full interview with Katharina Kubrick above or read the transcript below:
Interview with Katharina Kubrick:
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: You mentioned earlier at the ‘Envisioning 2001’ presentation that younger fans have come up to you and said, ‘this film is G.O.A.T!’
Katharina Kubrick: (laughs) I’ve only just learned that phrase!
It really makes Stanley’s work timeless. What does it mean to you to have multiple generations always returning to these films no matter how many decades pass?
You know, why do people still listen to Bach? Why do people still look at Van Gogh’s paintings? I think if the art, whatever it is, whatever form it takes, whether it’s a painting or music or film is honest and speaks to people, then it will last. I think a lot of people think that film is a sort of a one view consumer project.
I mean obviously a lot of films are. But if you’ve put a lot of heart and soul, thought and effort, and money into making a movie, to my way of thinking, you should be wanting to make a film that lasts. Why would you make something that you just think, ‘Oh, people are going to forget it by the time they’ve walked out of the cinema’?
Film is one of the great art forms, it involves story and music and acting and design. And it is so all encompassing of all the arts. You have a lot of different artistic disciplines that come into making a film. It’s new, in terms of world art but I think good films make a great contribution to the quality of our lives. But I would say that, wouldn’t I? (smiles)
Were you were heavily impacted by your mother Christiane in pursuing art as well?
Yes, my mother is an artist. She’s a very good painter and has a very good website, ChristianeKubrick.com. Stanley found her when he was in Germany making a film called Paths of Glory, and wanted an actress for the last scene. He was watching television and saw her in a play, called her agent, asked for an interview. And you know the rest as they say, is history.
She had been acting for a living but didn’t really want to be an actress, she always wanted to be an artist. Being with Stanley meant that she didn’t have to act anymore and she could be a painter. So there were two artists living in the same environment and encouraging each other. They were a great team those two. (smiles)
I’ve noticed while listening to you earlier and in general that Stanley always wanted to make his work a family affair. He’d feature you and your sisters in film cameos, utilize family-made paintings and music. Essentially, want all of the family involved in some fashion.
I think if Stanley had his way we would all have worked in the film industry because as far as he was concerned… Why wouldn’t you want to work in the film industry? He was very pleased that I went into the art department and films and had my own career apart from working for him. My late sister Anya was an opera singer, so obviously the film business wasn’t for her. And then my youngest sister [Vivian Kubrick] made a documentary on The Shining.
So, he was very keen for us to be involved because he thought it was the best business to be in. He would involve us whenever he could. We were always together as a family. We always traveled everywhere together. Everything was based from home. And so we were all if not directly involved, we were all there and he would show us drawings or concepts or talk to us about ideas he had. “What do you think about this, and what you think about that?” We were always a team.
One of my favorite movies personally is Barry Lyndon. I’ve read that Stanley received threats for having British soldiers essentially on Irish soil?
No, they were Irish soldiers. Well, what we had is a British film crew and we were in Waterford (city in Ireland) and the soldiers were all Irish soldiers and a lot of the crew were also Irish. But the main film unit was British. We were renting a house and there was a cleaning lady and she said some guys came to clean the windows or paint the house. I can’t remember which way it was. And they said, ‘Oh you know, these people are not who they say they are. We know who these people are.’
There were difficult times in Ireland at the time. And then I think there was a phone call received and it was made very obvious that we needed to not be there anymore. That there was a potential threat against the crew, if not us directly.
I was actually not in Ireland, I was back in England at the time when it happened. They just had to hightail it out of there. Stanley said it’s just a movie, it’s not worth anybody getting hurt for. So he was very pragmatic from that point of view. They moved to England, the whole unit move to England. I went back on the picture and we all started looking for locations again, and we set up the production offices in Salisbury (city in Wiltshire, England).
I’ve always been curious about A.I. Artificial Intelligence, a film that Stanley started being interested in making all the way back in the 70s. From what I’ve read over the years, Stanley really wanted to make this film and it seemed stuck in development limbo. Eventually he asked Steven Spielberg if he would direct the picture.
Why did Stanley feel the technology was never quite good enough prior? I’ve read Jurassic Park had a considerable impact on Stanley decidedly pushing for Spielberg to direct, although Spielberg still wanted Stanley to direct the film. Would Stanley have directed the film after Eyes Wide Shut had he not passed?
No, there were certain sequences in A.I. that CGI hadn’t caught up to at that point. They weren’t very good at doing fur and water. Stanley was very impressed with Jurassic Park. When he approached Steven and said, “I really think you should direct this and I’ll produce,” Steven was surprised obviously. But then I think very encouraged and he didn’t give it back. Stanley was going to do it, after Eyes Wide Shut it was fully his intention to work on A.I.
He told me that he thought he would make it too dark and that it was more Steven’s subject matter. That the two of them would collaborate very successfully. They were really good friends and they talked about it a lot. I think it probably would have been a very good collaboration. I feel is already a really dark film and Stanley thought that Steven’s sensibilities were more appropriate for the subject matter.
I think they more or less agreed that Steven would direct it and Stanley would produce it. I’m very pleased that Steven made it.
How do you feel Stanley would have looked at the de-aging technology recently used in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman?
I haven’t seen The Irishman but Stanley would have loved all the new technology for sure! I think he would have just been finding ways that he could incorporate all the new stuff into a new story. He never knew what film he was going to be making next. Stanley was a voracious reader and he said that finding a good story that he wanted to make and fallen in love with was the most difficult thing for him.
It took him years to decide what to make or to find a good story that would sustain him throughout the filmmaking process. Because you have to really love it and believe in it and trust in your instincts. And then you have to do all the research, which was part of the thing that he liked doing a great deal, was the research. It’s like he cut filmmaking into thirds first third was research, second third was filming it, and then the last third was editing. That was his favorite process of the whole thing, the editing.
Did you personally watch Doctor Sleep?
Yeah, I’ve seen it. Well, I haven’t seen it finished. I saw it a couple of months before it came out.
You mentioned earlier how much Stanley loved New York. I’ve read that after Stanley got his pilot license, he felt that commercial airlines weren’t safe and didn’t really like traveling by flying anymore. Do you feel the choice affected his life in any way?
He did have a pilot’s license and he flew a very small plane himself. What happened was that his good friend was killed in an air accident. Stanley, being his close friend was sent all his personal effects and I think it just freaked him out completely. He just couldn’t cope with it. He just didn’t fly, didn’t have to fly. We always went everywhere by ship.
What’s your favorite part of the ‘Envisioning 2001: Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey’ Exhibit here at the Museum of the Moving Image?
I like seeing all the sketches and the the artwork, actually. It’s good fun. It’s very interesting to see the process, the way people’s minds work in getting to the final result. There’s lots to see!
Be sure to check out the full MoMI Envisioning 2001 Exhibit Press Presentation and The Natural Aristocrat’s tribute article to Barry Lyndon’s use of Handel’s ‘Sarabande’ as a prominent piece overlaying the film.