BY HILARY HAGERMAN
You probably know Daniel De Santo as one of two things:
1) The guy who freaked you out as a kid on Are You Afraid of the Dark, or as
2) Gretchen Wiener’s douchebag sort-of boyfriend in Mean Girls (“Is your muffin buttered? Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?”).
But with a new movie role under his belt as the villain Crew Cut in Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day, Ryerson film grad De Santo is breaking out of typecast.
“Usually I’m the smartass or I have a couple little zingers or some girl is mad at me cause I’m not calling or something,” said the Toronto native. “This is totally different.”
In the follow-up to the 1999 cult classic, De Santo trained with a plethora of weapons, worked out with a personal trainer and had a dialect coach to help him perfect his character’s Sicilian dialect.
“I’m not going to say it’s better or worse, it’s just different,” he said. “It’s definitely rewarding playing a different character.”
De Santo has always been a fan of the spotlight. He remembers his uncle handing him a $2 bill at family weddings to dance to songs from Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
“From a very young age I think I learned that you can make money by sort of making an ass of yourself,” he said.
He really got his big break as Tucker on Are You Afraid of the Dark after doing work on commercials and hanging out with Ms. Frizzle while voicing Carlos’s character in The Magic School Bus.
He joked that he’s glad Are You Afraid of the Dark isn’t on the air anymore, but said it was a great experience.
“It was cool to grow up on that show and with that show,” he said. “But I’m glad that I started taking acting classes and working with my teachers after that because I think I needed to.”
Eventually, he decided to take a few years off from acting to study film at Ryerson. “I really wanted to round myself out as an actor,” he said.
“I wanted to see things from the other side of the camera.”
After he graduated from Ryerson he got his next big role alongside Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls, and things have been escalating since.
However, De Santo says success doesn’t come easily.
“You really need to sort of be the CEO of your own company. No one’s going to hand you roles or hand you anything,” he said.
“So if this is what you want to do…you’ve got to work your ass off at it.”