Interview: Santiago Cabrera On ‘Salvation’

Salvation comes to CBS on July 12th at 8/9c. The summer’s newest drama stars Santiago Cabrera as Darius Tanz, a self-made tech billionaire who discovers an asteroid hurtling towards Earth that could threaten life on the planet as we know it.

CBS Local’s Matt Weiss spoke to Cabrera about what made him interested in the role, long days on set, working with Neil deGrasse Tyson and more.

MW: Hey Santiago, how are you doing?

SC: I’m doing good, thank you.

MW: Congrats on the upcoming premiere next Wednesday. You are starring as Darius Tanz, what was it about the show and the role of Darius in particular that attracted you to this project?

SC: I love a show that has science sort of at the forefront. I feel it’s so present in our minds and in the news today, and rightly so. But mainly it was just such a page turner, it was a really fun read. I love political thrillers and suspense dramas, this show is definitely one of those but with really rich characters at its center. Darius was a real hook for me. I love the nature of what it means to be a genius, someone who’s ahead of the game, a maverick, one of the great minds of today is always a fun part to play.

MW: So, I’ve seen the trailers and obviously the show centers around the premise of this enormous asteroid being six months away from hitting the Earth. What else can you tell us about the show that we haven’t gotten from the trailers to get people ready for episode one?

SC: Yeah, I would say the asteroid coming to Earth is always a big deal and is a huge plot line of the show, but really, the main theme of the show I’d say is what comes out of that, which is a huge threat for humanity and human beings. Are we capable of handling this, are we capable of coming together and finding a solution or do we actually destroy ourselves in the process. It draws a lot of parallels, I think, to the climate in the world today and to our history as human beings and makes it very, very accessible. It’s done in a very smart way and a very entertaining way.

MW: I know there’s a lot of science involved in the show, but you mentioned the humanity aspect. What was it like for you personally, working on this show that centers around a very real doomsday scenario?

SC: It’s intense, I got home exhausted every day. Darius, his mind is so active and so ahead of the game that I knew if I’m to play this character I’m going to be really tired. I should be really tired at the end of every day because the stakes are so high and that’s always the driving force of the show. But you know, it’s a really grim prospect, the idea of an asteroid destroying our planet, but it’s done with a real element of hope. There’s also humor to it, all these characters have a great sense of humor and that’s very present in the writing and the tone. So, it makes it really accessible and a fun way to sort of tackle this problem.

MW: You mentioned Darius’ brilliant mind, he’s a tech billionaire, self-made guy, really smart. When you were getting ready for this, did you have to hit the library? Were there a lot of Google searches trying to figure everything out?

SC: That’s the thing, yeah, you kind of go, ‘I need to smarten up’ (laughs). Even now I’m still reading books about the universe, about science, and tapping into a passion that I didn’t have as part of my childhood. I’ve also been reading and finding out about the great minds of today like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, even going all the way back to Einstein and seeing who have been the great minds of our time. I’ve really enjoyed that process of building this character.

MW: And you had a great mind on set with you as well, an actual astrophysicist right?

SC: We did, Neil deGrasse Tyson was on set with us and he’s definitely a hero of mine, I look up to him so much. I think he’s such a great mind, a great person and he makes science very entertaining. I think it’s a great parallel to have him on the show because this show makes science very entertaining and very accessible. It was great to have him on board as sort of a symbolic gesture, and that he wanted to be on board. Clearly, he really liked the show, liked the premise and I hope he watches it.

MW: Awesome, very cool. Alright, I have one last question before I let you go and I’m going to put you on the spot a bit. Can you describe Salvation in five words?

SC: Relationships, planet, love, politics, humanity.

MW: Perfect, A little something for everybody. Well thanks Santiago, I really appreciate the time and I can’t wait to watch the show on the July 12th.

SC: Alright, cool. Thank you.

Salvation makes it’s series premiere on July 12th at 8/9c, only on CBS. Check your local listings for more information.

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