He may not have had the distinguishing scar running down his face in Love Actually, but the outlaw host Hector Escaton from Westworld should have been immediately familiar to any fans of the Christmas movie. That's because Rodrigo Santoro from Westworld is in Love Actually. Like many of you out there, I've seen the British romantic comedy/drama too many times to count, and Santoro's character Karl in Love Actually has always been a favorite of mine based on his sheer beauty. So, I immediately recognized the Brazilian actor when he turned up on the HBO series. However, if you hadn't realized it was the same actor, here's yet another excuse to watch the holiday classic Love Actually this Christmas.
While maybe not as heartbreaking as seeing Emma Thompson's Karen realize that her husband Harry — R.I.P. Alan Rickman, you are very missed — has probably cheated on her, the Sarah and Karl story of Love Actually ranks as the second most devastating. Laura Linney's Sarah was in love with her co-worker Karl for two years, seven months, three days, and an hour and 30 minutes. Yet, when she had the opportunity to sleep with him, she chose to visit her brother with mental disabilities at the facility where he lived instead. In a movie where most people ended up with the person they wanted to be with, Sarah and Karl's story was a massive exception.
Emma Freud, who is married to Love Actually's director and writer Richard Curtis and was the script editor for the film, confirmed in 2015 that Sarah and Karl did not end up together through a tweet. While fans have pretty much always assumed this, it was still sad to officially know.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly back in 2013, Santoro gave a happy ending version for fans who just couldn't handle Sarah not being with her love. He suggested that Sarah and Karl ended up together, honeymooned in Bali, and traveled around the world, since, by that point, Karl had become a famous architect.
Santoro is a successful actor, but, if his ties to both Westworld and Love Actually took you by surprise, then another movie you may not have known that he was in is 300 as Xerxes. The Spartans fight the Persian god king's men, and Santoro looked almost unrecognizable in the original film. He also came back for the sequel 300: Rise of an Empire.
His other notable film roles over the years include Fidel Castro's brother Raúl Castro in Che, Jim Carrey's boyfriend Jimmy in I Love You Phillip Morris, the human ornithologist Túlio in the animated movie Rio, Jennifer Lopez's character's husband Alex in What to Expect When You're Expecting, and Garriga in the Will Smith and Margot Robbie film Focus. Recently, he portrayed Jesus Christ in the 2016 version of Ben-Hur and was even blessed by Pope Francis.
So, yeah, the enigmatic chief designer has come a long way from his days of breaking Linney's heart in Love Actually. But, despite his impressive résumé, I — and many other Love Actually fans — will always remember fondly one of the first times that we saw Santoro on screen. Even if his storyline with Linney was particularly tragic.
Images: John P. Johnson/HBO; Giphy (4)