Why Santiago Cabrera’s ‘menacing’ role on ‘The Cleaning Lady’ stands out




Veteran actor Santiago Cabrera has been part of the superhero world (“Heroes”), domestic dramas (“Big Little Lies”) and sci-fi franchises (“Star Trek: Picard”).

Now, he’s entering the crime-thriller world of the Fox hit “The Cleaning Lady.” 

“I like to shake things up,” Cabrera, 45, told The Post, referring to his disparate genres. 

“I didn’t do comedy for a long time, and a bit of comedy has started to come my way lately [and] I really enjoyed that. Even in drama, I like being able to bring a lightness whenever possible, because that’s also life.

“Someone the other day asked if it was by choice that I’ve done stuff in the nerdy world – fantasy and sci- fi and comic book [shows]. Those are just the most incredible and loyal fans. I’ve loved being part of those stories and discovering what they mean to people.

“The more eclectic I can keep [my roles], the better.” 

Now in Season 3 (airing Tuesdays at 8 p.m.), “The Cleaning Lady” (created by Miranda Kwok) is about  Cambodian-Filipino former doctor Thony De La Rosa (Elodie Yung), who comes to America for medical treatment for her son, where she gets a job as a regular cleaning service worker. As she struggles to support her son, she ends up getting ensnared in the criminal underworld, and becoming a “cleaning lady” for organized crime. 

Santiago Cabrera as the menacing family man Jorge Sanchez on “The Cleaning Lady.” FOX
Elodie Yung as Thony and Cabrera as Jorge. FOX

Tragically, former co-star Adan Canto, who played her criminal ally Arman Morales, died of cancer in January at age 42. Former co-star Oliver Hudson’s character, Garrett Miller, was also killed off in Season 2, leading to an influx of new characters in Season 3. 

Cabrera, who is also known for playing Lancelot in the BBC series “Merlin,” joins the show as Ivy League educated attorney Jorge Sanchez, who enters the story with his cartel boss sister, Ramona (Kate del Castillo). 

“I thought it was very refreshing to see a show on network TV with a lead like Elodie’s character,” said Cabrera.

“And at the same time, I love the idea of playing someone who is from this world of violence, but has the challenge to bring humanity to him. I got a very nice letter from the showrunners, starting with a two-page description of this guy’s arc for the season, and his background. It’s very refreshing to get that. 

“I’ve seen a lot of gangster movies, of course, so I didn’t have to go watch all those again, but I watched as much of the show as I could before starting, to see the world you’re delving into,” he said. “What I love is that characters start to take a life of their own. Also what’s very freeing is, in these formats where you jump on board [a show a few seasons in] and discover it as you go along, you can use that discovery.” 

Eva De Dominici and Cabrera on “The Cleaning Lady.” FOX
“I loved that this very menacing and unpredictable person also has a softer human side,” said Cabrera. FOX

He said he liked the fact that Jorge is an unlikely family man, since he’s got a daughter and a sister. 

“The family aspect and the sibling relationship was relatable,” Cabrera said. “I loved that this very menacing and unpredictable person also has a softer human side. I found that really interesting, the juxtaposition of those two worlds.” 

As Season 3 progresses, “You’ll see a lot of the relationships start to develop, worlds start to collide and come together, interests will start to come together. I’m excited for audiences to get to know Jorge more, and see different sides of him,” he said. 

“I’m excited for audiences to get to know Jorge more, and see different sides of him,” said Cabrera. FOX
“Interests will start to come together,” Cabrera said about the rest of Season 3. FOX

Coming up, Cabrera said he’s not sure if he’s done with the “Star Trek” world — “Anything can happen, so never say never. I really enjoyed that character, so you never know” — and he’ll also co-star with Eva Longoria in the AppleTV+ show “Land of Women.” 

“It’s a dramedy set in wine country,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.” 

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