- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Flipboard
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Tumblr
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
[This story contains major spoilers from the fourth episode of Wolf Pack, “Fear and Pain.”]
Rodrigo Santoro wasn’t afraid to take a bite out of the supernatural world in his latest starring role in Paramount+’s Wolf Pack.
The actor, who began his career decades ago with several Brazilian projects, has had a taste of sci-fi, adventure and fantasy with previous roles in Westworld, Lost and 300. Now, starring as Garrett Briggs, a father to werewolves and a park ranger with a secret in the Sarah Michelle Gellar-starring series, Santoro has taken on a new battle. He says, “I was just connected to the storytelling and the characters.”
The high school-set horror series, written and produced by Jeff Davis, follows teenagers Everett (Armani Jackson) and Blake (Bella Shepard) as their lives are flipped upside down when they are bitten by a werewolf during a mysterious wildfire in southern California. As they try to navigate the confusion and chaos, they get connected with two other teens, siblings Luna (Chloe Robertson) and Harlan (Tyler Gray), and learn they are all more similar than they realize. While the four of them try to connect the dots on how they ended up in this situation, Luna and Harlan’s adoptive father, Garrett, works to keep their secret, while investigator Kristin Ramsey (Gellar) is determined to get to the bottom of the wildfire.
After episode four, viewers still have unanswered questions — from the wildfire to the mysterious caller to a possible “pack” forming and a werewolf out for blood. The audience even got a look at just how much damage the terrifying creature has already done at the end of the episode, titled “Fear and Pain.”
Among the madness, Santoro explains that Davis — who created MTV’s Teen Wolf series and has Teen Wolf: The Movie on the big screen — was not looking for a “Teen Wolf spinoff” with Wolf Pack, and he also says he isn’t “the wolf guy.” Rather, he saw an opportunity to bring an impactful new story, based on the books by Edo Van Belkom, to life with new characters, revelations and conversations.
Santoro says he was also drawn to the series on a personal level, and praises the show for its discussions around both wildfires (“I’m a big nature lover,” he says), and around difficult family relationships and mental health: “He [Davis] takes all these monsters and uses them as metaphors for the monsters that live inside us — our fears.” In the chat below, Santoro also discusses the importance of family — or, the “pack” — and teases a “huge twist” coming later in the season.
What initially drew you to the role of Garrett Briggs?
Curiosity. It’s my first time exploring the supernatural thriller genre. I’ve done Lost which is considered to be supernatural; Westworld, [which is] like sci-fi; and 300. I like trying new things. I’ve always flirted with the idea, but was never really presented with an opportunity that I connected to. My team sent me the script; I read the first episode and I forgot that it was supernatural. I was just connected to the storytelling and the characters.
From the pilot, you could tell, “OK, this character, I care for them. I want to know more [about] where they are going to go.” Then, I had to Zoom with Jeff [Davis], the creator, and it was incredible. Jeff is not only very talented, but he was just so grounded and clear about his vision and open to truly collaborate in shaping up this character.
Wolf Pack did speak to me on a personal level. I’m a big nature lover and the fact that he [Davis] wanted to use the wildfires and come up with some discussions, not only the fires but about nature. And then, of course, what really, really interests me is the mental health aspect of it all. He takes all these monsters and uses them as metaphors for the monsters that live inside us — our fears. I realized I would be talking to a younger audience, which I’ve never really done before, and will be discussing anxiety. Especially, we have Everett, who suffers from severe anxiety.
I’ve done three projects that were about this subject matter, and it’s very important to me because for so long it’s been taken for granted and people don’t treat it as something that is serious and can have real, terrible consequences. I thought it was really smart the way he [Davis] wanted to speak to this audience, and I really think that the show can play a major role in changing the trajectory of youth mental health, just by normalizing conversations that have been stigmatized for so long. So, it all started to really appeal to me. And then the character [Garrett] is like a parent of these two teenagers that have a specific condition. The way I approached this character was from a human perspective. So, how can I humanize this character and build layers and make him real and flawed, and all those things that are so important to be a human?
What were your conversations with Jeff Davis on set about how to approach mental health in an authentic way?
We discussed it a lot. We spoke every week, constantly, discussing the character. Mental health is a big theme here and all the characters go through anxiety, and they’re exposed to situations where they have to deal with stress. In a way, we’re all dealing with it. Everett is clearly the one suffering from it the most. Also, parental alienation, which is something very, very important. And, Everett has both.
In every scene, if you can throw a little something in there, or just be precise about how you present a situation. Little things will have an impact if they’re done the right way.
After playing roles in series like Westworld and Lost that are more sci-fi, how did you prepare for this role, in a fantasy genre, differently?
I focused on the character and the story. I did go back and watch some general movies and shows. I got some tips from Jeff and Jason [Ensler], the director of the first episode. But at the end of the day, my focus was: I’m playing a father of these two teenagers that need special care. They could have any kind of problems, but I’m just a father that is trying to do his best, to be the best version that he can be as a parent. When we meet Garrett, he’s struggling with his own demons and the problem is that he’s a park ranger who serves the community. But in his personal life, he has to keep secrets.
It’s a big conflict with all the responsibilities of fatherhood, but I think a moral conflict that’s really rooted. He’s constantly trying to figure out, how do I protect my family, but also serve this community?
Why did Garrett feel so drawn to take care of Luna and Harlan when he found them after realizing they weren’t wolf pups?
In the beginning, he didn’t have an option. The way I kind of viewed the story and what I talked to Jeff about was that he found the two cubs and brought them back. He’s calling the wolf sanctuary, saying, “OK, I’m gonna drop them off tomorrow.” And then … they become toddlers.
In the beginning, it wasn’t like, “Oh, they’re so cute, let me be a father.” It was more like, “What do I do?” With Garrett, it’s always about: I’m in this situation, how do I figure this out?
In episode six, there’s an explanation there. He will talk with Kristin [Gellar] and they’re both going to open up a little bit about their past. You’re going to understand how he fell in love with Luna and Harlan and now they’re kids, and he’ll do anything to protect these kids from outsiders. But, especially from themselves.
In the first episode, audiences saw Harlan having some resentment towards Garrett while he was lost in the fire. Where did that stem from and what was it like trying to connect with teens on set?
It’s the first time I’ve worked with younger actors. I worked with children before, playing a parent, but never with teenagers. A lot of people asked, “So, you give advice to them? You’re much more experienced than them.” And, it was the opposite. I walked into this experience asking, what can I learn? And, how can I be with them in a way where we really exchange and make it a two-way thing? And it was exactly that.
Being on set and being so excited to figure out things and learning was invigorating for me. It was such a great experience. Especially Tyler and Chloe, who played Garrett’s kids, we were very close. We spent a lot of time together and it was fantastic.
There is this big secret Garrett is trying to hide to keep his family safe. With the addition of Everett and Blake, how do you think that complicates things?
They will complicate things. Especially Everett because he’s very tense and suffers from severe anxiety, and that will play a big role in trying to keep things down. In episode six, you will see that come up. It will get very complicated, not only with them, but with Sarah’s character – that’s going to complicate the situation. Twists are coming. For Garrett, it’s just crazy.
Family or the “pack” is a main focus in the show. What does family mean to you and your character?
Everything. Not only the family that I was born into but the family that I’ve been building and meeting and encountering throughout my journey. People who allow you to be who you are, that love you for who you are. My family is back in Brazil — my mom, my dad. I have a wife and we have a kid. They travel with me whenever it’s possible, but we’re always trying to figure it out and be together. So, it’s very important.
But also, the family that we call “our pack” that we’re bringing to the show. It’s really about bringing all these people in and even from the show, we’re becoming this big family. We’re developing relationships and friendships and in a very honest and open way.
How has it been going from playing this father on screen and back to your real family?
It’s truly been a learning process. It’s been amazing and we’ve been trying to be the best version of parents that we can be to our daughter. We research a lot because there’s no preparation to be a parent. We all have our problems too, but it’s all about the work you put in. When we try to educate her, we get educated at the same time.
What is Garrett’s take on Luna and Harlan’s “real father,” the werewolf?
The relationship with Luna is more worked out. Garrett and Luna are really close. With Harlan, it’s been a challenge for obvious reasons. Harlan has always been resentful. He wants to know his real father and that’s completely understandable and normal for somebody in his situation.
Just forget the fact that he is a supernatural thing, Harlan just wants to meet his father. [If the series is renewed for a second season], Jeff is going to develop that — like, exactly what is the problem, with Harlan being so resentful about Garrett. I don’t have that answer just yet, but I know there’s something that you’re going to learn about Garrett and Harlan. But Luna will have an arc that you’re about to see. She will change. And Garrett will have to work. It’s great because it’s constantly moving and he’s having to figure out things. He’s gonna learn a lot.
Garrett has hinted at the fact that the werewolf is a killer, and then at the end of episode four, audiences got a glimpse of what the werewolf has already done. Does he know more than he’s letting on?
I think he does, but I can’t tell you much more.
Viewers saw Garrett join the task force with Kristin in episode four to keep tabs on everything going on. What has it been like working with Sarah Michelle Gellar and her character?
Sarah is an icon in this world, so I couldn’t have asked for a better scene partner. I didn’t know what to expect. The series is all dark and we’re supposed to be scared, but I’ve had the best time, just like fun. She has a great sense of humor. She has a lot of experience with her perspective. So for me, it was like, “OK, let me understand the tone, the narrative, the storytelling.” We got along from day one. It’s been great.
One main element in the series is the wildfire set in southern California. Was it a goal to bring awareness to the dangers of wildfires in the series?
Yeah, I think so. One of the first things Jeff mentioned in our first meeting was that he basically said: I’ve done Teen Wolf for a long time and I’m not the wolf guy, but I read this book and I really felt something about talking about wildfires and nature. It’s going to be about werewolves, but the story is completely different. It’s not a spin from Teen Wolf.
The wildfires — I did a lot of research beforehand. I watched documentaries, I met two park rangers, and spent some time with them and asked about their role. I learned a lot about when sometimes it’s arson and sometimes it’s not. I’m a big nature lover. I’m from Brazil — we have the Amazon, rainforest — and I’m all about protecting it. So, the series did connect to me on a personal level.
What can audiences expect from the “pack” and your character for the rest of the season?
A huge twist. We didn’t see it coming when we were reading scripts. That’s why Jeff is a master of doing these things. Just stick with it and follow along.
If Wolf Pack gets renewed for a second season, what could you see next for your character?
It’s hard because I’m going to spoil it if I say anything. Let’s put it like this — after episode eight, the finale, after the big twist, Garrett is in a situation. That’s the big question mark for a potential second season. I don’t know the way he’s gonna go. I’ve been asking Jeff and he’s like, “I’m going to start writing. I’ll let you know.” But after the big finale, I want Garrett to stick to his gut, stick to his core. I would love to see that. But I don’t know if it’s going to go that way.
Throughout your career, you have landed some big roles from 300, Westworld, Lost and Love Actually. What kind of project could you see yourself doing next?
I’m always open to stuff that I haven’t done. I’ve never done action. 300 was action, but I was not involved. I discovered on episode six of Wolf Pack, a big action sequence that I’m like, “Oh, this is fun.”
I’m also producing. I’m putting together some projects, starting to make my own projects like 7 Prisoners. It came out in 2020 when we were in the middle of the pandemic, and it’s something that I’m proud of. When you watch it, you’re going to say, “I never expected Rodrigo to be playing this part,” so I liked to experience different roles. That’s what I’ve been trying to do — get out of my bubble and understand other people’s realities.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’re working on or that you would like to work on from a producer role?
I have produced before, once. It’s crazy because I was starring in it and at one point, there was a lot to deal with, but I learned so much. I learned about the making of a film and I recommend it to any artist who has that opportunity. It is so important to understand what collaboration truly is, understanding other people’s jobs and respecting it. I’m definitely looking into producing projects that I will be acting in. I’m still very curious as an actor. I still have a lot to do and discover, and to learn and to grow. But, I’m interested in continuing acting. Now we have conversations about inclusion, diversity, and things are starting to change. A long way to go still, but it’s starting to change. I can’t wait to find that leading part in a great project. I’m very excited for this, like, new moment where maybe the world will be more reflected up on the screen.
Do you have a dream project or person that you would love to collaborate with?
There are so many people that I would love to work with, so many talented directors and actors. I’ve been very fortunate throughout my career that I worked with people that I admire. I try to surround myself with people that are more experienced because I’m a big believer in updating the version of myself.
I’m connected to the things that I would like to talk about, more than, “Oh this is a great part.” It’s more like, “What are we discussing or exploring in this project?” I’m looking for stuff that is relevant. I think 7 Prisoners is a perfect example – I think it can promote social change. My choices are always based on things that I truly believe are relevant and important to discuss, and to put it out there for people to hopefully touch them and that will provoke change. I think that’s kind of guiding me, the stuff that I am finding for myself. But as an actor, I’m still very curious and still excited to sink my teeth in — talking about werewolves. I’m very excited to find different stuff that I haven’t done before.
Interview edited for clarity.
Wolf Pack is streaming its first season on Paramount+.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
More from The Hollywood Reporter
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Producers on Queer Representation, Activism: “It’s Become a Mission For Us”
saturday night live
‘Awards Chatter’ Podcast — Martin Short (‘Only Murders in the Building’ and ‘Saturday Night Live’)
“Let’s Swing Big”: ‘THR Presents’ Q&A With the Creative Team Behind ‘Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies’