Santiago Cabrera may have swooned millions of hearts with his portrayal as Sir Lancelot in BBC’s Merlin. Now he’s taken on a swashbuckling role in The Musketeers where he plays the charming and chivalrous Aramis. Santiago recently took some time off shooting season 2 of the series to talk to MC about his new role and the perks of his job.
How does BBC’s The Musketeers vary from the original Alexandre Dumas novel?
Our version is a departure from the original, although we have the same characters at its centre. We definitely capture the spirit of the book, the sense of adventure, brotherhood, loyalty, etc. I’d say our version has a modern spin on it, in the sense of its pace. It moves very quickly.
Tell us a bit about your character, Aramis.
Aramis is a bit of a loner, and only has the Musketeers as his immediate family. He also loves women, and they love him. He’s great fighter, a warrior, but also very charming and joyful. He relishes in what life has to offer. Always up for a good fight, which makes him a bit of a daredevil.
Aramis comes off as a bit of a romantic in the series; do you find this trait easy to act out?
I can see how Aramis comes across as a romantic. Still, I don’t see him as a romantic in the conventional sense of the word, whatever that means anyway. He’s searching for true love, but it eludes him. He’s a man who likes to feel alive, whether it’s from the thrill of a fight, an adventure, or being with a beautiful lady. He’s definitely not a player though. The guy with the chat up lines, that goes round picking up woman. I don’t think he has that in him. A lot of the times women come to him.
There’s a lot of sword playing going on in the series, do you do your own stunts and what kind of training do you have to go through?
We do all our own stunts. We had a very intense bootcamp before shooting, where we learnt all the skills. Sword fighting, horse-riding, stage combat, etc. We’d be getting up at 6am, cleaning the horses stables, putting their saddles on, going for a hack. Then sword-fighting practice, stunt rehearsals and all of that again. We have an incredibly talented group of people training us for all this, each an expert in their own specific areas, and its a training we keep up during the 6 month shoot. So we come out pretty decent at this stuff. They help us look good.
Have you picked up any skills on set that have proved useful in your everyday life?
I can load, fire and reload a 17th Century Musket at a pretty quick pace. Same with the pistols. Not bad for a new skill.
How is it like working with the rest of the cast?
It’s great fun. We have a great banter going on between us. From the moment we met at bootcamp it felt like we’d known each other for a long time. There’s a natural camaraderie that we keep up during filming. It’s a real pleasure when that happens, as you don’t have to act it and also it makes the job a lot more enjoyable.
What’s the most funniest moment that’s happened on set while filming?
The funniest moments are when all of us Musketeers are in a scene together. The banter really picks up then and there’s a lot of laughter on set. If you’re the one who has an important moment in those scenes, it’s better to find a quiet corner before a take, otherwise there is a big chance of cracking up in the middle of a scene.
What inspired you to get into acting?
I did a play when I was around 18. I was playing a funny character and the first moment I heard that roar of laughter from the crowd, I was hooked. Then Drama School really put things into perspective for me and I knew I’d found what I wanted to do. I guess that without knowing it, I’d been acting my whole life in a way. Constantly adapting and trying to blend in.
Growing up, what were your favourite TV programmes?
Quantum Leap, The A-Team, Fawlty Towers, Murder She Wrote, Columbo, Cheers, Tom & Jerry.
Have you ever used your celebrity status to get away with things?
Not really. Never really think of myself as a celebrity if I’m honest. Not really a fan of that word. Still, it’s nice to get free things sometimes, or be invited to special events. Not complaining about that, haha, but don’t think I could bring myself to take advantage of it.
Do you ever get lines quoted back to you when you get recognised on the streets?
When I was on Heroes I would get “Hey, Save the Cheerleader, Save the World”, from people. There has been the odd, “all for one…” moment since the Musketeers, even though we don’t abuse that quote on the show.
What do you do when you’re not shooting?
I like to spend time with my wife, who I don’t get to see as much while working. I also play guitar, been learning the harmonica lately, travel and see the family when I can.
You’ve travelled a lot while growing up, how has that shaped you?
Well I think part of me becoming an actor has been a result of all that moving around. You become a bit of an outsider, observing the new environments your put in and what goes on around you. I became a Chameleon in a way. Trying to blend in without being noticed.
What words do you live by?
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
What’s next for you?
Next for me? I’m currently filming Season 2 of The Musketeers. We’re just 2 months into a 6 month shoot, so this is still next for a while.