On a routine phone call, one of his agents stated that a production was looking for a police officer to arrest the film’s lead actress. Using a codename in place of the film’s official title and the usual secrecy about other details, Bernardo Santos did what he always did: he prepared for the casting.
He stole a police overcoat from a friend, recorded a short video and sent it to the agents, who passed it on to the director. Two days later, the good news came: the young Portuguese had been chosen, although he had no idea what was coming. “It was more of a production, finished, I was happy.” Months later, it was the cop who rammed and arrested Alicia Vikander in “Tomb Raider,” a film that is now considered to be one of the best experiences of his short career.
At 24 years old and a few weeks ago 25 years old, the Portuguese who now lives in London, UK, has a curriculum full of big names. He’s already shared the set with actors like Gerard Butler, Jason Statham and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. But the best is yet to come.
He was born in the Portuguese capital, but only lived here until he was eight. At that point, while still in school, he confessed that he already loved everything to do with television. “That has always fascinated me. At that time, the children all saw “Morangos com Açúcar”, imitated the actors and sang the songs, ”he recalls.
His parents’ job took him to Brazil, where he lived for two years, before moving permanently to London, where he studied and after high school decided to invest in theater training.
He attended a theater course for two years. At the weekend he prepared for great passion in a cinema course. “I wanted to have all the information I needed to understand the differences between one world and another. It’s been two unforgettable years. I was lucky enough to finish everything very early, I was 18 years old and could start work straight away, ”he tells NiT.
He followed the traditional British Shakespeare school: he played Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliet” and Macbeth. In preparing for this last role with sword in hand, he strengthened the passion that he already knew how to preserve, namely participating in action films. The more jumps and fights, the better. Preferably away from the stage, not least because cinema and television “have always been the big goal”.
The industry is tough, sometimes brutal, especially when the competition is high. Most of his résumé consists of small appearances or appearances as an extra, almost always without dialogue. He was entitled to one in his favorite film “Tomb Raider,” in which he turned to Alicia Vikander, who unfortunately did not survive the director’s cuts.
“After all the cuts, they didn’t include the entire scene in the final version. As an actor, of course, you’re a little upset. I was still waiting for the director’s special version, but there wasn’t much of a difference, ”he says.
Right, about to stop Alicia Vikander on “Tomb Raider”
On the set, he exchanged impressions with the Norwegian director Roar Uthaug, with whom he stayed in contact. The goal? Try to open doors for future participation. On the contrary, working as an extra does not discourage him: his work philosophy is based precisely on using every little opportunity to observe, learn and ultimately be successful. Start at the bottom.
“There are people who don’t like this kind of work, who criticize those who do it. In all honesty, I think everyone should see how things are done. You learn a lot when you are there. We can talk to cameras, technicians, actors, and directors. We also learn as secondary actors. If one day we are the protagonists, we already know what to expect, ”he admits.
With Anthony Hopkins on the recording of “King Lear”
With or without dialogue, Bernardo believes that all of this work in the corners of the screen and in the shadows of the big names could eventually bear fruit. “It’s crazy to see everything that happens before and after the take that we see in the last film. Being extra is always an asset. You really learn a lot. “
Not everything in the curriculum is fleeting sightings. In 2016 he played a leading role in a UK documentary miniseries about the experiences of military personnel from the SAS, the country’s special unit. He thinks it is the “most demanding” experience of his career.
The preparation took several weeks, with intensive training on the orders of the former military personnel. “It was a tough series, we trained with guns, we ran, we jumped, we did everything they do in reality. Then we recorded for two weeks. It was a series that opened a lot of doors for me, ”explains the young actor who is an avowed fan of action films. It is no accident that the vast majority of his involvements as an extra or protagonist usually involve an authority role, be it a simple police force, a bodyguard, or a SWAT agent. “Everything that is action is my medium.”
One of the doors that opened was the fulfillment of a dream that every hardcore “Game of Thrones” fan feeds: to participate in the series. He was selected to wear the armor of the Golden Company, the mercenary army that Cersei Lannister hired against Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow last season. Unfortunately for Bernardo, the performance was short, not least because the army was quickly knocked down by the dragons in one quick scene.
“Although I was a quick fix, I was in Northern Ireland for almost a month. What goes on behind the scenes takes a long time, ”explains the actor, who was lucky enough to face Marc Rissmann (Harry Strickland), the leader of the Golden Company, a character who was also not well known.
In other leading roles he played the Portuguese murderer Hugo Quintas, an emigrant in Great Britain who killed his wife, a British citizen – and whose story was told in an episode of the series “Britain’s Deadliest Lovers”.
Left, at the entrance to King’s Landing, in “A Guerra dos Thrones”
There is no doubt about the favorites. What he “enjoyed most” was the little scene on “A Game of Thrones,” though he went through other great productions. Although he no longer feels the same nervousness as in other times – “there was always the fear of doing something wrong in front of so many people and damaging my future” – he continues to thank the good fortune that he had received calls to him to call out to giant blockbusters.
In addition to the Hunter Killer scenarios as bodyguard for one of the protagonists – where he shared the set with Gerard Butler – or even for “Jurassic World: Dominion”, “Fantastic Monsters and Where to Find Them” and even an episode of ” The Witcher, “the latest work is undoubtedly the greatest.
Unlike the other calls, which included code names and limited information, when the phone rang I knew immediately that it was Matt Reeves’ new “The Batman”.
“I can’t say much about the role because they are still recording. I finished my scenes about a month ago. I was on the file in Liverpool and London for several weeks, ”he says. Suspended for months, the recordings were resumed with severe restrictions and the atmosphere on the sets is now very different. “We are tested two to three times a week, we always wear a mask. We used to walk through the scenes to see what was going on, now we don’t. “
Despite all the restrictions – and the required secrecy – it is known that Bernardo will play an FBI agent. And he admits he takes part in a scene in which the entire cast of the protagonists is present. Notice that the list includes names like Robert Pattinson, Colin Farrell, Zoe Kravitz, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano, or John Turturro. “I can’t say more (laughs).”
Next to Gerard Butler on the set of “Hunter Killer”
A few weeks before his 25th birthday, Bernardo Santos continues to dream of the day when he passes from shadows to the lights that fall on the protagonists. And like any good action fan, he’s looking forward to the day he meets his favorites: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. At least two have already been removed from the list, Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson. His favorite director Steven Spielberg is missing.
While this is still a dream to be achieved, others may be close to achieving it. And only one phone call was required during the last vacation in Dubai. “I got a call to confirm that I got a role in a new film, but I can’t reveal the name as nothing is known yet,” he explains.
Still, he leaves a few crumbs: “The recording starts in the second week of January and all I can say is that it’s a huge franchise that everyone knows about.”