|Fans tuning in to see actor Pablo Santos as Arizona high-schooler David Tiant in The WB's comedy "Greetings From Tucson" this Friday night at 9:30 pm. ET, have the opportunity to see him in a very different light, if they just change channels at the top of the hour.|
On "Angels," an episode of NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," airing Friday, Nov. 1, at 10 p.m. ET, Santos guest-stars as a Guatemalan boy trapped in an international sex ring. "He runs away from the man who has been raping him and beating him," says Santos. "He's basically been with him for a couple of years now."
"He came here originally from Guatemala. His parents had sent him through this charity. They were told he was going to get education and all these things. The dad trusted them, but they gave him away to this man, basically."
"It's this whole thing about these men who are raping little kids, this whole group of men. They share the kids. They have an apartment, and he locks them up in their rooms, and it's soundproofed."
According to Santos, while he was in New York this past May for The WB's upfront presentation to advertisers, he visited his agents' New York office. "They wanted to get me out there," he recalls. "My mother had said that she liked that show ['L&O:SVU'] to one of the agents, and she said, 'We'll try to get him on it.'"
"Angels" also guest-stars Patrick Cassidy, who does the reverse trip from NBC to The WB when he begins a guest-starring stint on "Smallville," starting Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 9 p.m. ET.
Santos says he spent two weeks in New York, but only filmed for four days, but that was long enough to impress series executive producer Neal Baer and co-star Mariska Hargitay, who plays Detective Olivia Benson.
"We had lots of kids come in to read," says Baer, "and he was really terrific and special. He's talented and very sweet. Mariska loved working with him."
"She has a huge scene with him, where she's talking to him, trying to get him to tell her what happened. She said it just took everything for her not to cry. In a couple of takes, she did end up crying, because he's so powerful."
Often, when working with younger children in situations such as these, Baer says the scenes are shot in such a way that the child actors never hear the more explicit or difficult dialogue. But in Santos' case, they felt he could handle it.
"How old is he, 15?" says Baer. "We did think about that. I thought about that on 'ER' too, when we did kids that had been raped. With Pablo, he had to say all these things. We would never do it with, say, a 6-year-old, but we felt like, with a kid who's 15, he can articulate that. It's not something that 15-year-olds haven't heard about. We felt that it's all right."
Asked what was hard about the experience, Santos says, 'I guess having to dig into the emotion of going through his experience and confronting that."
As to following himself on Friday night, Santos laughs. " I think that's cool!""