11:37 am - 01/29/2014

Raúl Castillo, the best thing in LOOKING

'I hope the show does for other people what it did for me and my family, which is start a conversation.'

Diversity in television is a hot topic. Richie is pinned early on as a Latino character, then Patrick makes certain presumptions that affect their relationship. How do you think Looking is approaching ethnic representation?

So effortlessly. It doesn't feel forced, just in the way the story doesn't feel forced. It makes sense. It's similar to how the sex on the show is very story-driven. I think that's the case, too, with these kind of nuances we're talking about. It's not just for the sake of diversity, it's to move the story forward.

Even the way Patrick and Richie meet on the bus. In L.A., public transportation feels like it's just for the economically marginalized. But in San Francisco and in New York, you see everyone on public transportation. In the same way that the show deals with sexuality, it deals with race. It feels natural.


I grew up in south Texas in a place that's 90-percent Mexican-American. My parents are from Mexico. But I always felt very American. When I would go to Mexico, my brother and sister and I would be the gringos. Then I went out to school in Boston and felt so un-American. Everyone always asked, "Where are you from?" I said, "Texas." And then they said, "No, where are you from from?" Then I understood that this is what most of America is like, and that I grew up sheltered.

A lot of the storyline between Patrick and Richie is reminiscent of those years in Boston. Patrick, in a very charming way, is trying to figure Richie out.

In OUT's February cover story, Christopher Glazek wrote about Looking, and one line's always stuck with me: "Patrick’s fumbling is not simply endearing — it’s what makes him an object of desire." Do you think that's true? How does Richie balance Patrick?

I think honesty is sexy. Patrick's awkwardness is charming, and he becomes more appealing to Richie once he starts opening up. I think that's how relationships are. You meet each other and there are so many walls built up based on personal histories, but it's all about removing those walls. I think the most solid relationships are the ones where we're able to peel away layers and really get to the core. Sometimes certain people allow us to pull these layers off and those are the people we fall in love with. In real life, Jonathan isn't as awkward as Patrick. But he does such a great job of riding that fine line between awkwardness and charm.

I also think you and Jonathan have a strong, non-verbal chemistry on screen. That scene on the bus is so well-choreographed. You switch seats, turn your head, reach for the business card in Patrick's front pocket. Was the chemistry with Jonathan there from the beginning?

It was totally natural. I flew in to shoot the pilot, and I met up with Andrew and Michael and we went and got coffee, and that night everyone was meeting up for karaoke. I felt like the "Patrick" that day. I was kind of awkward; I didn't know anyone. I just knew Michael, and I was just meeting Andrew. Jonathan made me feel at ease from the get-go. He has such a big heart. He's a very intuitive person and a very intuitive actor. I never sung karaoke in my life, and the first time I was singing karaoke was in front of a Broadway star.

That requires alcohol…

Oh yeah, but no amount of alcohol could have prepared me for that! But then we had one day to shoot both of our scenes. Acting — especially when you're getting to know someone — is a dance where you feel out each other's energy. It's this constant give and take. He was so giving, and I think I'm a fairly receptive actor. So we hit it off, just as two people.

It's definitely apparent on screen. And Richie also has a lot of swag and confidence. Do you think you'd be friends with him in real life?

Yeah, absolutely. He's a lot more assured than me in a lot of ways. But he's a bad ass. He has a lot of license. He's not just there to move Patrick's story line. He has his own desires, his own needs. There aren't a lot of Latino characters like him on television, and I feel so lucky to take him on. He's so complex, sexy, confident, and he knows what he wants.

A lot of supporting characters don't have those strong wants. They're just there to serve the protagonist's purpose.

Exactly. And I'd never, in a million years, go up to a stranger on a bus. But he's the guy who does. He just goes for it. He takes risks.

Weekend is one of my favorite movies of all time. Not because it's gay-friendly, but because Andrew Haigh is a brilliant writer and director and its premise is very simple even though its content is so complex. How was it working with Andrew on Looking?

I'll take bullets for Andrew. There's a quality in the kind of person he is that makes you trust him. And I think a lot had to do with watching Weekend before shooting.  Once I saw the film — I loved it and thought it was wonderfully told — I wanted to work with whoever made it. Andrew was obviously such a great storyteller and he cares for his characters. They're beautifully drawn and have so many levels to them.

I read that Andrew gave the actors in Weekend flexibility in how they interpreted, and even improvised, the script. Did he have a similar approach to Looking, or was it more structured?

The scripts for Looking were so good that we didn't need to improvise a lot. But there was certainly a looseness in the way that we shot. A lot of times, he would have us improvise into and out of the scenes. So there was a definite fluidity. They would just keep the cameras rolling at all times. There was an improvisational feel, even if it wasn't entirely improvised. There were moments of spontaneity, and those were encouraged.

I'm sure this spontaneity is what helps make the show feel real, like little snippets of daily life.


Andrew also pressed how important it was that Looking be shot in San Francisco. Do you think it's important the show was filmed in San Francisco? Do you have any personal attachments there?

My family loves the city. We visited it eight or 10 years ago. I was with my parents and my sister. My sister was there for work and my parents went to go spend some time with her. And my little sister spoiled me. She's an accountant and not in the arts, so she flew me out. But because I was there on their dime, I took it upon myself to be the tour guide. So I got the books, and went online and did research; I talked to friends who had gone to Berkeley. We ate at all these great restaurants. The food's incredible there. So I had that kind of attachment to it.

I also have a lot of friends from the Bay area, so I tend to gravitate to people from there. I was part of Lorimer, a short that Michael Lannan — Looking's creator — filmed. It was a prototype for Looking. That was set in Brooklyn. We were thinking Richie's character would be Puerto Rican at the time. But San Francisco is more of a Mexican town, so Richie's character changed. Either way, the character had so much potential, whether he was Puerto Rican in New York or Mexican in San Francisco. I think the way Looking explores Latinos in the show is really smart and hasn't been seen before.

You're straight but play a gay guy on Looking. How was that experience?

I know I said this already, but once I saw Weekend, I wanted to work with Andrew. And I've played gay characters before and never had a problem with it. But I did think about how my parents would react. They're old-school Mexican. But for being old-school and traditional, they're actually very open-minded. They're so excited about the show, and they're very proud and they have been super supportive of me from day one. They're happy to see me doing what I love and they're relieved that I'm now able to make a living doing it.

You're making it!

Yeah, HBO! But there was a moment when we went to shoot the pilot, where I sat in my hotel room the night before and composed an email to my parents, brother, sister, uncle, and aunt. I wrote them this email and said, "I'm sitting in my hotel room in San Francisco. I'm here to shoot a pilot for HBO. The way that pilots work is that networks shoot a pilot and if they like it, they'll green light it and order a whole series. The show is about gay men living in San Francisco and, in it, I'm going to be playing a gay man. I've played gay men before and never had a problem with it, but I want you guys to know, so you're ready for it. If you have any questions or want to talk about it, let me know. You guys have always supported me and I hope you support me now." And they wrote back such loving messages!

This whole experience has opened up channels of communication. A lot of times people are so old-school and traditional that they don't know how to talk about this stuff. We have to provide the language for them. We have to make them feel comfortable. Because often times they don't give a shit. Yeah, they've been told their whole lives that being gay is wrong, but in their hearts, they don't really feel that way. I know that this is not the main point of Looking, but I hope the show does for other people what it did for me and my family, which is start a conversation. My family's so excited. It's awesome.

That's really good to hear. Most gay men and women come out to their families, but this sounds like a kind of coming out, as well. It's great that you're sharing this side of the experience. I think it's rare to hear about the very personal effects of acting.

Exactly! And my dad just bought an HBO subscription.

oh and hey look here he is without a beard



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alaynestone 29th-Jan-2014 08:12 pm (UTC)
Hey OP, Idk if you know but Groff took over the Looking twitter and did a Q&A. It was reallly cute, tbh.
distinguetraces 29th-Jan-2014 08:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I know! But my fannishness lost out to my shyness, since my Twitter account is under my real name and all my friends would find out I'm a demented Stan.
porvida11 29th-Jan-2014 08:12 pm (UTC)
He's Straight?,...... womp

On a different note, he's very well spoken from what I can tell in this interview,.. kind of super attractive.

Edited at 2014-01-29 08:20 pm (UTC)
bprorsum 29th-Jan-2014 08:12 pm (UTC)
Their sexy time was all sorts of awkward.
onyxobsidian 29th-Jan-2014 08:17 pm (UTC)
Seriously. Main character dude gets two guys who leave him right in the middle of a date/sex?

The date in the first episode was super awkward. The guy was chugging wine like he didn't want to be there and wanted to get it over with, and then when the guy says he's gonna take off, he acts all shocked. It was weird and slightly unbelievable.
ivannafierce 29th-Jan-2014 09:29 pm (UTC)
The whole show is unbelievable.
cricketgrl 29th-Jan-2014 08:16 pm (UTC)
Gorl, it does happen. Especially in SFO
turkish_popstar 29th-Jan-2014 08:17 pm (UTC)
for gay men? yes.
aaameeting 29th-Jan-2014 08:19 pm (UTC)
You are a sad and pathetic homophobe
cylinderofsin 29th-Jan-2014 08:22 pm (UTC)
and straight people in SF hehe.I always tell my friends that the best place to meet people is on Muni!
onyxobsidian 29th-Jan-2014 08:19 pm (UTC)
To 18 year olds, yes.

And a 28 year old I know who acts like a 14 year old. We were on a date, and when I came back from the bathroom, he was on Grindr. And then was on his phone the whole date. So I brought out my phone, and later on he texted me and said "I thought you were a little too involved with your phone. It was kind of rude." LIKE WHAT? The next day, he was asking if I wanted to be his boyfriend.
After I turned him away many, many times, he ended up dating a 20 year old after knowing him a couple days. 3 weeks later, they broke up and had this HUGE Facebook drama about it. Posting about their undying love, true feelings for each other, just now is not the right time, but they have a deep, loving respect for one another.

It was hilarious.
youandeyeteewhy 29th-Jan-2014 08:20 pm (UTC)
I met one of my first long-term boyfriends at a long stop-light side-by-side, and we ended up getting coffee right after and spent the next 2 days together, nearly inseparable. It helped that it was a weekend and neither of us had anywhere in particular to be at the time.
cricketgrl 29th-Jan-2014 08:16 pm (UTC)
Castillo is so unattractive.
distinguetraces 29th-Jan-2014 08:59 pm (UTC)
I was going to reply "YOUR FACE IS SO UNATTRACTIVE" but then it wasn't funny because it made sense, so I was sad.
thewhowhatwhats 30th-Jan-2014 08:23 am (UTC)
They're just hating on him because they're obsessively racist towards Mexicans.
r0ck_y0ur_s0ul 29th-Jan-2014 08:16 pm (UTC)
I know nothing about this...but I do like his hat!
la_guillotine 29th-Jan-2014 08:16 pm (UTC)
I find him sooo attractive. Patrick irritates me a lot though.

I watched episode 3 last night & Scott Bakula is looking pretty good for his age. I wonder if he & Dom will hook up.
sonadoras456 29th-Jan-2014 08:19 pm (UTC)
How did you watch episode 3?
zlmourao 29th-Jan-2014 08:23 pm (UTC)
not the OC, but it's online apparently.
dedebee 29th-Jan-2014 08:23 pm (UTC)
HBO put it up on their GO service and On Demand early.
stebo 29th-Jan-2014 09:58 pm (UTC)
Super Bowl Sunday. Girls and Looking episodes that would normally air on Sunday are airing on Saturday and are available on HBOGo already.
mike986 29th-Jan-2014 08:17 pm (UTC)
So happy for Raul. He's awesome and my fave thing so far in this show.
sonadoras456 29th-Jan-2014 08:18 pm (UTC)
The fact he got so uncomfortable during their makeout session over whether he was uncut...um..HELLO. It's known around the world and if someone is cut it only applies to certain instances. However, I was pissed at how they copped out on the Grindr hookup with Dom lol
distinguetraces 29th-Jan-2014 08:43 pm (UTC)
Really? The full-on ass-slamming wasn't enough for you? You wanted cock?

I do hope that later in the season we'll get a sex scene that doesn't cut away between a couple with more genuine intimacy, but the way they shot the Grindr hookup -- quick, hard, casual, kind of gross -- made it feel like exactly the kind of sex that it was.
aaameeting 29th-Jan-2014 08:18 pm (UTC)
I hate this show!

This show serves no purpose.
yummyhead2toe 29th-Jan-2014 08:30 pm (UTC)
You are a sad and pathetic homophobe
gillette 29th-Jan-2014 08:43 pm (UTC)
faeriegodfag 29th-Jan-2014 11:45 pm (UTC)
I abhor it too. As a gay man, it really insults me that the depictions of homosexual culture are either overtly sexual, or just cheaply comedic. I hope that the show I've been working on gets ample attention, it definitely deserves it, imo.
therearewords 29th-Jan-2014 08:18 pm (UTC)
He's kind of cute, but damn it's Weekend all over again with everything being pale and matte.
porvida11 29th-Jan-2014 08:23 pm (UTC)
They film on an Instagram filter
therearewords 29th-Jan-2014 08:35 pm (UTC)
So unappealing.
aaameeting 29th-Jan-2014 08:21 pm (UTC)
Dom is the only decent character. He is hot to me.
ex_keef_rif 30th-Jan-2014 04:55 am (UTC)
He's the only one I find really interesting.
kajsa87 29th-Jan-2014 08:22 pm (UTC)
I love this show and I love his character and I kind of love Patrick, too, Idgaf. (Also, when did Russell Tovey become so attractive?)
youandeyeteewhy 29th-Jan-2014 08:23 pm (UTC)
He's cute, yes, but I prefer to see the sex-worker from the cafe, played by T.J. Linnard, to get an on-going role in the show now.
felixdharma 30th-Jan-2014 02:10 am (UTC)
YAS! He needs to hook up with the other guy
vapo0rize 29th-Jan-2014 08:23 pm (UTC)
He's so hot.
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