Rodrigo Santoro ("300," "Lost," "Love Actually") lends his voice to the quirky and lovable Tulio in "Rio 2," a film the star says is close to his heart because of what it means to his country.
The sequel to 2011's "Rio" gets wild as Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and their kids venture into the heart of the Amazon jungle and face some fearsome adversaries with the help of old and new colorful friends. The star-studded cast includes Latinos like Santoro, the legendary Rita Moreno, Andy García, Bruno Mars and more.
Santoro sat down with HuffPost to discuss the new animated feature, directed by Carlos Saldanha, and opened up about the price he's had to pay to work in Hollywood.
How does it feel to be a part of a successful movie franchise like Rio?
I feel very good, it was a great pleasure to make the first movie and now this one too. I love the character, the concept of the movie, I love working with my voice ... It was a challenge, something very different. I'm very happy and it's very important to me because my country, Brazil, is living a very important moment in its history. There are a lot of things happening over there, other than the World Cup [laughs]. And this is a movie about Brazil. The first one referred to Rio [de Janeiro] a lot and this one is about Rio but also the Amazon rain forest and the country as a whole, it deals with very specific and important issues.
As a Brazilian citizen, how do you feel about the world setting their sights on your country?
That's what's happening. Some time ago the world began to pay attention to what was happening in Brazil ... It's a very delicate moment for the country, an important moment, and I hope it's a moment that will bring change and many good things to the country.
How does Hollywood treat a Brazilian actor?
They've treated me well, they've treated me very well. I started working outside of Brazil 12 years ago, I think, and it's been a journey with a lot of hard work [and] sweat, but also a pleasant experience. I've met a lot of interesting people, I've worked with many incredible people, I've had a lot of fun, and it hasn't been easy but it's an enriching process ... It's made me grow as an actor, as a man, as a human being.
What has been the most difficult part of working in Hollywood?
The distance, being far away from your home, from your family, that's not easy. There are times when you say "Wow, what a fight, what a battle." But it's my job, and I love what I do. I am very fortunate, very grateful for everything that has happened to me, everything I've done, all the opportunities, so I'm very happy. There's a price for everything, but I'm always in contact with my family and I'm always going to Rio [and] Brazil, which is my home. I'm always going back, but it's not easy.
Was it worth it?
It still is. It's a daily task and I don't think I've arrived at a [final] point, I'm still walking. It's a journey, a path that I'm following until I can't anymore -- it goes right, left, up, down but stays strong.
"Rio 2" arrives in theaters on Friday, April 11.