| SAO PAULO
SAO PAULO In his latest film, Brazilian actor
Rodrigo Santoro portrays a man who is very much in the news
himself these days -- Cuban President Raul Castro.
And though the similarities between the heartthrob and the
normally dour Castro may not be immediately evident, Santoro
says their eyes are similar.
The 32-year-old actor will be promoting "Che," directed by
Steven Soderbergh, as well as the Argentine film "Leonera,"
directed by Pablo Trapero, at the Cannes Film Festival.
"Che" is based on the diaries of the Argentine guerrilla
Ernesto "Che" Guevara on his revolutionary struggles in Latin
America, starting in Cuba alongside Raul and his brother,
Fidel, in the 1950s. Benicio Del Toro stars in the title role.
Although the Raul Castro part is small, it is topical. Raul
Castro took over from his brother as leader of the
communist-ruled island in February, 50 years after the events
depicted in the film, and has embarked on a series of reforms.
"I knew it would be a delicate and very polemic role,"
Santoro said in an interview.
"As an actor, I have to try to incorporate the human being.
I cannot do a political analysis about him."
A photo he saw of Raul Castro from 1953 helped him.
"He has slanted eyes. I think the producers saw that and
thought, "Look here -- there's a great physical resemblance."
Santoro made a two-month trip to Cuba last year, staying in
the Sierra Maestra mountain range from where Fidel Castro led
the revolution and visiting the house where the brothers were
"I loved Cuba, had wonderful days there, people are
amazing," he said. "I feel a bit Cuban too. It was a very
Santoro's other movie, "Leonera," is about the life of a
mother who raises her son in prison. Some of scenes were shot
in Argentina's largest maximum security prison in Olmos.
Santoro, who has starred in international hits such as
"Love, Actually" as well as acclaimed Brazilian movies like
"Carandiru," is now filming "I Love you Phillip Morris" in New
Orleans along with Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.