Santiago Cabrera

Before becoming an actor, Santiago Cabrera originally planned on taking up sports professionally. He played soccer for three years on college scholarships in Chile and played semi-pro in London. While in London he trained for three years at the Drama Centre. After graduating, his first role was Montano in Shakespeare's Othello at the Northampton Theatre Royal and in London at The Greenwich Theatre. Cabrera's career breakthrough came when he was cast in the lead role of Octavius in ABC's Empire. He currently stars in NBC's Heroes as Isaac Mendez, a heroin-addicted artist whose dark, violent and apocalyptic paintings are actual premonitions of future events. Sci-fi Online caught up with Cabrera as Heroes was about to start broadcasting on the Sci-Fi Channel...

Sci-Fi Online: Your character seems to struggle with his ability. Do you think he could be using it to better effect?

Santiago Cabrera: I think it depends on whether you're in control of it or not. That's the interesting thing about this character's premonitions. At that moment, he's not conscious of what he's doing. It's a pretty freaky thing. There's this question of, "What is this evil that is coming from inside me?" and also a sense of, "Why is this all happening?" But obviously, if you're in control of it and you can put it to good use, then that's a different story.

That's the great thing about this show. It starts from the very beginning with everyone discovering these things for the first time.

SFO: When you play Isaac, are you as confused as the character because you do not know how the story pans out?

SC: That's the fascinating thing about working this way. It's not every day that, as an actor, you don't know the whole story. You're like the audience in that way, so you have to bring that to your performance. It's different and it's interesting at the same time. You have to play in the moment and create that confused state of not knowing what's going to happen on screen.

It was great that everyone's story was taken from the beginning. Everyone has their own process of discovery which is very important for the audience. As the episodes continue, as the audience keeps watching, the characters come together and there'll be more of an interaction.

SFO: This is your first major role, how does it feel to hit the dizzy heights of stardom? What did you do before the show?

SC: I got here from London where I have been doing some theatre. I've done a couple of movies that should be coming out soon. But what a better part to get than to come straight into this.

I did the pilot season. I remember just locking myself in an apartment which I was staying in for a week and reading eight pilot scripts. As soon as I read Heroes, it jumped out at me and I pursued it from the beginning because it was something very unique and I really wanted to be part of it.

SFO: You say you have done some theatre work, has this helped with your preparation for a major TV role?

SC: There is an intensity about an actor's preparation for the theatre, more so than other roles. The great thing about Isaac is that he has that intense quality. What attracted me to the role is that you don't know where he's going to go, he's full of surprises. Isaac has many layers and a depth about him.

It certainly helped me to have delved into that level of preparation before because we want to try and reflect that same intensity and add some variation to it.

SFO: Were you a fan of comic books when you were growing up?

SC: I have to say I didn't really grow up with comics, apart from Asterix. But I immediately got together with Tim Sale, who's the comic book artist, and was introduced to that world. He also does my character's painting. I have been reading his comics and have really enjoyed them.

He works with Jeff Loeb, who's also a writer on the show. My character is a comic book artist himself so I've been reading books and I've become really hooked on Daredevil actually. I think it's fascinating, that whole world. I can see why people get obsessed on it, it's very gritty.

SFO: How do you feel about the phenomenal success that the show has achieved already?

SC: When I was reading it, I thought that if what comes off the page is translated on to the screen than we're onto a winner. You're always hoping that but I'm not surprised that there's been this reaction because it really is a unique show. It's like nothing else, very different and edgy. And it's great to see this response. It's like a prize for the all hard work behind it.

SFO: Thank you for your time.

With thanks to Julie Warmington at Holler

Heroes begins broadcasting on the Sci-Fi Channel from February 2007.

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