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It’s No Act: Doctor’s Son in Netflix Show

By Kate Carey-Trull

From creating home movies on an iPhone and acting in school plays, Griffin Santopietro has parlayed his love of acting into a career at the young age of 16, including his current gig on the Netflix original series “Cobra Kai.”

His father, Dr. John Santopietro, senior vice president of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network, said his acting career, which includes independent films and appearances on shows like “Bull” and “New Amsterdam,” has been a combination of things unfolding organically and focused hard work.

Griffin, the middle of three boys, followed older brother, Max, 19, into musical theater at a young age (younger brother, Beckett, is 12). Max is studying musical theater in college.

“None of my boys really connected with team sports,” Dr. Santopietro said. “When Griff was in second grade, he performed in a children’s theater program and he really transformed on stage, even at that young age.”

Dr. Santopietro said his son was introverted, but started taking acting lessons and performing in local theater. The three boys often made movies with an iPhone, acting out characters from Marvel movies or impersonating family members.

“Once we saw how dedicated he was, we knew had to support him,” he said. This included bringing Griffin to auditions in New York City. His mother, Kathy, helped navigate the world of child acting. “You do need to be willing to flex and bend and make sacrifices so they can follow their passion. Griff had a natural comedic ability, and that got him early attention of agents. He did have to learn to deal with rejection because he would almost get a lot of roles.”

A breakout role in the Adam Sandler movie, “Week Of,” starring Sandler and Chris Rock, was his first real job. Dr. Santopietro said it was a good experience, giving Griffin the chance to learn and meet people of different ages involved in acting careers.

Actors under 18 must have a parent with them on set, so Kathy usually travels with him but sometimes Dr. Santopietro goes to Atlanta where they film “Cobra Kai.” In its fifth season, the sequel to the 1980s “Karate Kid” movies, starring Ralph Macchio, is scheduled to be out in early September. Griffin plays Macchio’s son, Anthony, whose role expands over the seasons.

Last year, he filmed an episode of “New Amsterdam,” a medical drama set in New York City. The episode focused on the character’s mother who had Capgras syndrome, a delusional misidentification syndrome where she could no longer recognize her son.

It’s interesting, Dr. Santopietro said, to see Griffin in the role, and playing Macchio’s son.

“They put out a Father’s Day message with a photo of the two of them, which was a little weird, but cool,” he said “It’s a remarkable experience — a whole different world in the television and film industry.”