Date of Birth: August 22, 1975
Born in Petrópolis, a state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Rodrigo Santoro is a former journalism student of Italian-Portuguese heritage. His mother, Maria José Junqueira dos Reis, is an artist, and his father, Francesco Santoro, is an engineer.
After joining the actor’s workshop Rede Globo, Rodrigo made his acting debut in various telenovelas such as Olho no Olho in 1993, Pátria Minha in 1994 and Explode Coração in 1995. He also worked on a Brazilian miniseries called Hilda Furacão, which was based on the life of ex-prostitute Hilda Maia Valentim.
Although Rodrigo stands at 6'2" he voiced the tiny mouse Stuart Little in the Brazilian dubbed copy of the movie and its sequel. He then made his major cinema appearance as a young man admitted to a psychiatric hospital for marijuana use in Brazilian director Laís Bodansky’s Bicho de Sete Cabeças (Brainstorm) in 2001, for which he received a standing ovation as well as winning Best Actor in various Brazilian film festivals.
He has also appeared in Brazilian films such as Golden Globe Best Foreign Film nominated Abril Despedaçado (Behind the Sun) and Carandiru.
During all this time acting Rodrigo was rumored to have been dating various Brazilian film celebrities and supermodels. But he is not simply known for dating gorgeous women and his Brazilian film work. He is also recognized in Hollywood.
Rodrigo made his North American television debut after Canadian director Robert Allan Ackerman signed him to take part in the TV remake of 1961 film The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. When filming had finished he was offered a role in 2003’s Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. This was the turning point in his North American film career.
He played Karl in Love Actually and also found time to star in a Chanel commercial directed by Baz Luhrmann in 2004. And in 2006 he played Paulo in the long-running TV drama series Lost.
Rodrigo is possibly best known as Xerxes from Zack Snyder’s 2006 fantasy war film 300. His arrogant, devious, charismatic charm on screen made audiences both applaud and silently “boo” the character, a product of a great performance. His work as Xerxes was recognized by the MTV Movie Awards where he was nominated for Best Villain, unfortunately missing out on the award because of another stellar performance by Jack Nicholson in The Departed.
His more recent Hollywood appearances include Heleno (2012), The Last Stand (2013) and Focus (2015). He played Chilean Minister of Mining Laurence Golborne Riveros in the 2015 survival-drama film The 33 alongside Antonio Banderas, which was based on the true story of 33 miners who were trapped underground in 2010 for more than two months in the San José Mine in Chile.
Rodrigo can now be seen in the role of Jesus in the historical remake Ben-Hur, a role for which he has received a special blessing from Pope Francis.