We chatted to Oliver De Los Santos about his role as “Daniel” in Peacock’s upcoming “Punky Brewster” revival, opposite Soleil Moon Frye, Cherie Johnson and Freddie Prinze Jr. The show originally aired for four seasons between 1984-88, with an animated spin-off It’s Punky Brewster, airing between 1985-1986, also on NBC.
Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to do this.
Oliver De Los Santos (ODS): Thank you for having me!
How did you first start acting?
ODS: Actually, my sister Chloe started before me, and watching her on stage made me want to try. When I was 7 I almost landed a lead role in A Wrinkle In Time with Oprah and Reese Witherspoon in my very first audition, and I was SO close and it really got me excited.
After that I got an agent and manager here in Australia and the US, and started auditioning for more roles. I was also cast in some professional musicals: Young Lola in Kinky Boots, Benji in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Performing on the stage was so exciting and I loved every minute. In the meantime I was still auditioning for film and tv roles and then finally got my role in Punky!
Which actors do you most look up to or admire?
ODS: Right now I’m really into Pedro Pascal, he is so awesome as The Mandalorian, and I also love Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell because they’re so funny. But also, I have to say that Cherie and Soleil were so amazing and supportive on set, and I really look up to and admire them as people as well as actors.
As already mentioned, you star as “Daniel ” in Peacock’s Punky Brewster revival. How familiar were you with the original series?
ODS: I hadn’t heard of it before I auditioned, but my mum told me that she loved the show so much when she was young. It’s not available in Australia so I couldn’t watch it until I went back to America to do the rest of season 1. Then I binged the whole series on Peacock, and I loved it.
Your co-stars include Freddie Prinze Jr, as well as original cast member Cherie Johnson. Was there any pressure working with them or with continuing the legacy of the original series?
ODS: We all definitely wanted the show to do justice to the original, but it felt fun not like pressure. It was a really exciting thing for all of us. Cherie is the most amazing person, she is so warm and loving. Her and Soleil were always telling us that we were so much better at acting than they were when they were kids, but they were awesome- I think they were so hilarious and cute!
Freddie and Cherie are both such experienced actors and I really learned a lot from watching them on set. Freddie would let us battle with his kendo sticks on our breaks and throw the ball around with us, so that was really fun.
How would you describe the show for anyone who is unfamiliar?
ODS: Punky Brewster is a super cool show from the 80s, about an orphan who ends up being raised by an old man. But now, Punky is grown up and has 3 kids, and then we meet Izzy who reminds Punky of herself as a kid, and the show is basically about family and everything that comes with that. It’s really heartwarming and uplifting. It is a great show for the whole family, and I’m so glad to be part of such a cool legacy.
Are there more similarities or differences between Daniel and yourself?
ODS: I’d have to say differences for sure. Daniel is so neat and tidy and loves wearing clothes that are quite dressy, whereas I’m definitely more happy in band t-shirts or bell bottoms. I love 70s and 80s rock so we definitely have different styles, but he’s a cool kid. Oh, and my room is not as tidy as his either!
From your experience working on the first season, what stands out the most in your mind?
ODS: I think it would have to be how much it felt like we were just one big family! It felt like that right from the start and I really couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to work with.
Aside from Punky Brewster, are there any other upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
ODS: I do have an episode in an Australian series coming out soon, but hopefully one day soon I’ll be able to answer this by telling you that I’m doing a Star Wars production!
What are your favourite pastimes or hobbies?
ODS: I teach myself to play guitar and I also play baseball and love making stop motion animations with my Lego collection.
If anyone reading this interview wanted to find out more about your work or you personally, where could they look?
ODS: You can follow me on my Instagram account which is @itsoliverdelossantos.
We’re still quite early into 2021, what do you want to accomplish with the rest of this year?
ODS: I would love to do a feature film, but I’m hoping that I might be able to get my non-profit started this year. I really felt sad for all the unhoused people living rough in LA. There are so many people struggling and I hope that one day I can do something to help them get back on their feet.
Thank you again for taking the time to speak with us, take care and stay safe!
ODS Thank you so much for having me, it was great chatting with you!