EXCLUSIVE: Santiago Cabrera on How Elon Musk and 'Iron Man's Tony Stark Influenced His New Role in 'Salvation'

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Santiago Cabrera is no stranger to Hollywood.

The 39-year-old Chilean actor, best known for his roles in the BBC drama The Three Musketeers and NBC’s Heroes, is ready to debut his new CBS series, Salvation, on Wednesday.

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Cabrera stars as Darius Tanz, a tech billionaire who teams up with an MIT grad student, Liam Cole (Charlie Rowe), to save the planet from an enormous asteroid that’s about to hit earth in six months.

ET caught up with the actor ahead of the show’s premiere, where he discussed how Iron Man’s Tony Stark and other notable creative minds helped to shape his character.

“In many ways he covers the nature of a hero,” Cabrera said of Darius. “He’s very lonely with a great gift, but sacrifices a normal life for a greater cause. In the long run he’s definitely one of the heroes of the story.”

“There is definitely a modeling after Elon Musk,” he continued, further explaining that Darius is a maverick and someone who challenges the status quo. “I also had Tony Stark in mind and even went way back to Albert Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci, for example, was someone, who at the time, was considered crazy for talking about helicopters and things that people thought was out of the question.”

Created by Elizabeth Kruger and Craig Shapiro, the first episode follows Darius as he reveals his master plan on how to save the human race. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is whipping up their own plans, which involves deflecting the asteroid and keeping things a secret from the American public. 

Cabrera teases that the ”political thriller element” of the show will continue to brew throughout each episode. Audiences will also be able to learn more about Darius and Liam's relationship.

“There’s a definite parallel between Liam and Darius,” Cabrera said. “Liam is a young Darius in the making, maybe. Liam is a genius in his own right and Darius sees himself in Liam in many ways. Darius could become the father figure that Liam never had.”

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Spanish film director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo directed and executive produced the pilot episode. “He really gave it a cinematic feel,” Cabrera said. “It’s so great to have a show that highlights characters for who they are rather than where they are from.”

The Big Little Lies star also shared his appreciation for the opportunity to star in a television series where he’s not playing a stereotype.

“I’ve seen an evolution, but I think there’s still a long way to go,” he said of Latino representation in Hollywood. “I’m definitely really glad to be playing this character, in this world. I feel like it’s been a journey to sort of break that stereotype -- of people wanting to put you in a category. This show is definitely an opportunity for me and a step forward to help overcome that.”

airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST on CBS.

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