Rubens Sabino, a Brazilian actor who starred in the popular film City of God (2002), is now living on the streets of Sao Paulo suffering from drug addiction.
Director Fernando Meirelles, who sprang to international prominence with City of God portraying drug-related violence in a Rio suburb, expressed sadness at learning of his star actor's return to the streets.
"Unfortunately, I have used up my emotional resources," Meirelles told Folha de Sao Paulo in an interview published Saturday, referring to his attempts to help Rubens Sabino, 33, who portrayed drug runner Neguinho in the movie.
Brazilian media this week published photographs of Sabino wandering the streets of Cracolandia, a name given to the district in Brazil's business hub notorious for drug abuse.
Sabino, who previously had complained for not being paid anything beyond basic expenses for his acting, told Globo television on Thursday that life in Cracolandia was "a piece of hell". He said he hoped to make his way to Portugal to begin a new life.
Meirelles said he had tried over the years to help Sabino find work and leave the streets, where he had had lived since the age of seven, but had conceded defeat.
After the 2002 flick, which won widespread acclaim that extended far beyond Brazil and received four Academy Award nominations, Meirelles said he and associates tried to find Sabino work and an opportunity to study in Sao Paulo. "We couldn't just let him go back to living on the streets," the director recalled.
"Sadly, he didn't take it seriously, didn't go to class and ended up being asked to leave."
Meirelles said Sabino subsequently spent time at a drug rehabilitation clinic, where "he started to create problems by not respecting the rules." The director admitted: "That was when I threw in the towel in trying to help."
Meirelles famously largely used amateurs such as Sabino for City of God to add to the movie's stark authenticity.