They were young actors who do what all young actors do. They go to auditions and hope for work. Sometimes, one gets a role that either defines them to millions or becomes part of something lasting. Renoly Santiago would agree as he was cast as “Phreak” in the now cult-classic film, “Hackers.”
The movie, which follows a group of misfit computer experts, who once were on the fringe of society, rally together to stop a world disaster planned by an evil “Hacker.”
“As an actor, you just want to do a thing that makes some kind of statement,”
“That innocence and wanting to do something fun.”
The movie was the launching pad for an impressive list of actors who went on to Hollywood stardom such as Angelina Jolie, Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary), Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo), and Lorraine Bracco (Sopranos), and a young singer called Marc Anthony, who Renoly befriended.
“He was like a kid in a toy store. Very playful and funny, the energy felt right.”
Surrounded by such an array of talent, Renoly, who was surprised to have been cast, took it all in and shared observations about some members and how their specific styles of working contributed to the film’s success.
“We were very enthusiastic actors that really bit into the material,”
“Angelina was about learning everything she could about computers. Really intelligent, high IQ girl.
Jonny was very charming, polite, and Jesse Bradford, 16 years old then, was full of charisma and talent.”
Renoly, upon the arrival of the 20th anniversary of the film, was introduced to a fanbase that grew up with the film while pointing out his role as memorable to many. Renoly, still that humble kid from Lajas, Puerto Rico, tries not to get into the historical aspect of it, at least at present.
“I like to carry myself humbly and act like it’s not anything to get overly excited about,”
Santiago explained, “Maybe when I get older in my 50’s and 60’s, I will enjoy the attention more.”
To Renoly, now 41, the irony of the film is the accuracy of it when you compare it to today’s technological umbrella. It came as a surprise to him looking back.
“I knew it was a possibility, but it was an exaggeration, what one computer virus can do,”
“But now we are in a day and age where multi-faceted systems are out there, it’s a surprise, that we do save the world in the end. The message is: Let’s do the right thing with technology.”
Renoly went on to fame by appearing in blockbuster films like “Dangerous Minds” and “Con Air.” He is also working on a long term music album to be called “The Ides Of March” in 2016. So Renoly, whether acting or singing, continues to Hack your Planet. Be aware.