Santiago Cabrera Sabado Interview
Santiago recently gave an in-depth interview to Sabado magazine. Sabado (Saturday) magazine appears in the Saturday edition of El Mercurio, a leading national newspaper in Chile. The interview appeared in the 21st January 2017 edition in Spanish. Santiago gives details of his journey to Hollywood, his roles in Transformers:The Last Knight and the forthcoming HBO mini series Big Little Lies as well as his personal journey to becoming a father and his desire to give his son an opportunity to know his home country of Chile. It’s a wonderful interview – informative, wide ranging and moving at times.
Here’s a few article extracts translated into English.
(Please note this is only one translation from the original Spanish text and others may be slightly different:)
Santiago Cabrera’s Journey
(From Sabado magazine 21st January, 2017)
Santiago Cabrera Sabado Interview
He wanted to be a football player and he studied psychology, but he ended up being one of the most successful Chilean actors in USA. As he prepares to release Transformer 5 and HBO miniseries along with Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, he talks with Sabado about the low profile he manages here, the eight years he waited to be a father, the Latin stereotype he has to deal with in Los Angeles and the road he took to become one of the most promising stars in Hollywood.
Santiago Cabrera (38) never thought about becoming an actor: affable, charismatic and with a neutral accent, but sprinkled with Chilean-isms, he remembers that his dream was to be a football player and to be able to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona. When he was a kid, living in Spain, he was offered to be included like a cadet in Atlético Madrid. But like many times before, he had to leave behind the opportunity and follow his father’s route, Pedro Pablo Cabrera, who had long diplomatic career – he was Chilean ambassador in London, Moscow, Beijing and the Vatican- and he always went to each one of his destinations with his wife and his three kids. That’s why the actor was born in Caracas and then lived in Toronto, Bucharest, London and Madrid.
When he finished school he studied psychology in Diego Portales University, due to a sport scholarship, while he played in young players for Catholic University. The coach, Oscar Meneses, told him he was gifted. But, for him, it was already too late for football.
Did you ever regret not finishing psychology?
‘No, That was not my calling. I was doing everything wrong. I was always in parties, half bottle of wine and with a hangover. But I had to stop. I tried to be the rebel one, the wild one, and over the years I realized that I was not like this, and I am happy not to be like this.’
In the third year, Cabrera left his studies and, at 20 years old, he went to London to study acting. Two years earlier he discovered that he liked it, he remembers, after doing a play about Mozart. And just like this, he followed his impulse. In England he got a job in a pub and he entered the Drama Centre, where Michael Fassbender, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy graduated. After three years of study, he quickly got an agent.
Which (roles) do you say no to?
‘To the bad guy, the Latin drug dealer and when it’s for my looks. I try to break the Latin stereotype. I consider myself a character actor, and even if there are always exceptions, I don’t want to fall in that. Today, in the USA and England, they are trying to make more diverse projects, but I get the auditions and the character description says:”We look at any ethnicity”. You arrive at the casting and there are black people, Latins, Indians and Asians. Then I say – Why am in this category and not as a leading role? It’s very weird. They think that the Latins are a race and not a culture. This has to change, that inclusion it’s not fulfilling the quota.’
Among the Chilean actors who live in USA, Cabrera has been the most constant in the last 15 years. Pedro Pascal (Game of thrones, Narcos) and Cote de Pablo (NCIS) have succeeded in one-time productions but they do not have Santiago’s CV: besides Heroes, he took part in the TV series Merlin; in Alcatraz by J.J. Abrams; in the movie by Steven Soderbergh about Che Guevara; in the miniseries Anna Karenina; and for three years he played Aramis in the TV series The Musketeers that can be seen in Netflix.
Do you care about recognition in Chile?
‘I think if I cared I would make an effort to be recognized. People say to me I should promote myself more, but work dictates everything. Now I have a HBO miniseries and Transformers, specific things. I feel more relaxed talking about my job. US Weekly magazine wanted to make an article at my home and I always said no: I don’t feel comfortable, I don’t sell my life, but the work I do: If I were in a miniseries here, probably I would be more in the media. They asked me for several years and I always said no, I think they got tired. I am not closed, but no for now.’
Don’t you care about fame?
‘No. I am more reserved and quiet, maybe, but I am willing to be of a high profile if I am in a worthy project. I see very famous people and most of them were looking for it. There is a huge confusion with being popular today; they don’t care what project you are in, they respect how much you earn in a movie. If people say: “He was a very good actor, but he could have promoted himself more” I could die happy.’
Cabrera goes to casting for a movie which he is interested in. While he reads the script, the casting director -she already knew him- makes a weird expression, which he translates as “this role is not for you, but I like what you are doing” Then she says. “I am going to pass you a project you may be interested in: Transformers 5”
Re: Transformers 5
Were you immediately interested? Didn’t prejudices surface?
‘I recognize I had prejudices. When she said this to me, and she is a casting director who makes very, very good things, in my mind was: “Transformers number how many?” I haven’t seen one of them.” Transformers 5: The Last Knight, which releases next June 23rd, is the first big production in which Cabrera appears. The movie he says, will be a huge public eye for him: the fourth part collected more than one thousand million dollrs worldwide and now they are expecting similar numbers, with a cast which features Mark Whalberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro and John Goodman.
‘Transformers is an opportunity for an actor because exists the possibility that your name is in there and then that can open other doors or finance projects. But I was also interested in the archetype of the role and the job we did with North American Special Forces to train me. It was a great experience and it is the most important project I have done, because in addition they have placed me within the leading role group.’ He says about the film he plays a retired soldier who is now a mercenary and who leads a squadron named TRF which fights the threat of the Transformers. If everything goes well, he says, his role could be in the sixth part of the franchise.
Re: Big Little Lies
The other big project he will be part of this year is Big Little Lies, a HBO miniseries released on February 19 th. Based in the novel by the same name, by Liane Moriarty and adapted by Davis E. Kelley (Ally Mc Beal), it is produced by and stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman and its cast is completed with Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club) it tells the story of three mothers with children involved in a mysterious crime, while Cabrera plays the role of a theatre professor who is key in the plot. He can’t talk much about his role, he says, only that he is almost all his scenes with Reese Witherspoon.
Becoming a father
For 15 years, Cabrera has been married to Anna Marcea (40). They met in London, when he was studying acting, and with time they decided to get married in a civil ceremony. It took two weeks for them between decide it and do it. ‘I phoned my mom. They were at Moscow because my dad was as ambassador there and I told her “Not this Wednesday but the next I get married.” There was a very long silence. Later I knew that my dad had said: “He must write a letter, things must not be done like this.” They already knew Anna, but we were impulsive.’
It took years for you to become parents. Why?
‘Because we were young, at the beginning we hadn’t got money, back then we didn’t want, And when we decided to have a kid, he didn’t arrive. At first it was three years it didn’t happen, later we started with treatments, we lost a couple; it was very hard.’
It must have been suffocating for both of you as a couple.
‘Very much. So much that we talked one day and she said to me: “I can’t continue like this, I need to take control of my life”. Because physically she was affected by so many hormones that she had to take and emotionally it was terrible that it didn’t work. She told me she couldn’t continue like this. I was in Prague shooting The Musketeers; it was a very hard week. We came to the conclusion that we were very lucky to be together and that we would be a childless couple. And accepted it like this.’
Between the treatments to get pregnant, she (Anna, Santi’s wife) postponed her career?
‘Yes, but in addition to restart her career, it was also restart her life, because she had to take care all the time to get pregnant. It was a life project that took us many years and it didn’t work, there was a sadness at home, a tremendous emptiness…And that very same month we talked, she got pregnant in a natural way. You can imagine: to be eight years with the watch, with the schedule to get it, the in vitro treatment, and nothing that works, but suddenly it happens in a natural way. It was a miracle. For that reason we called him Kilian, which means “warrior”. Besides that it was a 24 labour, he was born with a huge knot which could have complicated things.’
Santiago, Anna and Kilian -who was born last April- arrived in Chile for vacation a month ago. They were at the actor’s parent’s home in Cachagua and now they will go to the south. ‘I want to settle down here, I was looking some places to buy something on the coast, I am going to see something in Pucón as well. In Los Angeles I want to buy too (there he rents a duplex in West Hollywood) to be with one foot here and the other there. I didn’t feel so Chilean when I lived here between 15 and 20 years old, but I had a strong bond since I was a child and I want to give that opportunity to my son, so that he knows which one is his country.’
You can view the full online article from Sabado Magazine here .
Big Little Lies premieres on HBO channel in the USA on February 19th at 9pm. Transfomers: The Last Knight premieres in theatres 23rd June 2017.
Article credits: Written by Rodrigo Munizag, Photos: Sergio Alronso, Art Direction: Manuel Godoy
Check back here soon for more news from Santiago 🙂