Rodrigo Santoro had to do some serious digging to get to the bottom of his character, late Brazilian soccer star Heleno de Freitas, for his new film Heleno. Santoro, the star of Love Actually and 300, researched extensively for the role and even had the opportunity to speak with one of Heleno’s former teammates. “I went to his [Heleno's] hometown in Brazil where he was born and raised until he was a teenager before he moved to Rio de Janeiro, and I talked to people around and I heard stories,” Santoro, 37, told Uinterview exclusively. “I met this guy who was like a 92-year-old, he was a goalkeeper and he played with Heleno for fun back then and he told me little stories. The stories just gave me a different take on the character, a fresh take after hearing all those [other] stories, sort of like this boy trying to be accepted, this boy looking for some warmth. The way he told me the stories and the way he described Heleno’s behavior when he was a teenager gave me a lot of insight about maybe where the whole thing was coming from.”

Santoro made a conscious effort to examine de Freitas's full character, who is often only noted for his superior soccer skills and troubled life. “I think that’s a beautiful side in him, which was tragic because he lost control, not only to disease, but his ego and everything took over. But I think he was just trying to be accepted.”

Heleno opened Dec. 7 in limited release and is also available On Demand.

Read Uinterview's full interview with Rodrigo here.

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