Within the eight years since HBO’s “Wanting” put him on the map, Raúl Castillo has emerged as certainly one of Hollywood’s most buzzed-about character actors. Any doubts about his on-screen charisma had been put to relaxation this summer time by the Apple TV+ dramedy “Cha Cha Real Smooth” and Netflix’s “Hustle,” through which he introduced emotional texture to roles that might have appeared one-dimensional within the fingers of a much less supple performer. He returns to the large display subsequent month in Magnificence Bratton’s semiautobiographical function “The Inspection,” portraying a Marine Corps drill teacher.
Regardless of his marquee worth, Castillo nonetheless considers himself a denizen of the theater. Final month, he returned to the stage after a seven-year absence within the New York Theatre Workshop manufacturing of Victor I. Cazares’ drama, “American (Tele)visions.” He performed Octavio, the strict patriarch of an undocumented Mexican household residing in suburban Texas within the early Nineteen Nineties. Collectively, the household ― which incorporates Octavio’s spouse, Maria (Elia Monte-Brown), closeted homosexual son Alejandro (Clew) and tomboy daughter Erica (Bianca “b” Norwood) ― learns that the pursuit of the American dream comes at an unstated emotional value.
Whereas engaged on “American (Tele)visions,” Cazares ― who’s nonbinary ― got here to view Castillo as a mentor. In flip, Castillo mentioned the playwright has given him “every thing I ever needed” as a theater artist.
“I’d been saying for some time: ’I don’t suppose I’ll ever do a play once more as a result of nobody’s writing the roles I’m enthusiastic about, and no person must see my Stanley Kowalski,” mentioned Castillo, referring to the position in “A Streetcar Named Want” made well-known by Marlon Brando. “Victor joked that they wrote my Stanley, which I like. Simply to offer delivery to a brand new play is a teenage dream come true.”
HuffPost caught up with Castillo and Cazares to speak about “American (Tele)visions” earlier than it concluded its acclaimed New York run final week.
Victor, the characters in “American (Tele)visions” are very consultant of your intersectional identities. How a lot of your personal expertise knowledgeable the play?
Cazares: The present has autobiographical parts, however the story isn’t autobiographical. I’m a Mexican American individual and I grew up on the border. I got here out once I was 14 or 15, and my dad and mom didn’t react positively. We had been a spiritual household, so their response was: “Let’s give Victor remedy to cease being homosexual.”
However even when my dad and mom had issues understanding, accepting and embracing my queer id, they had been performing out of what they felt was love. It was nonetheless not nice, nevertheless it was love. I’m blissful to say we now have a great relationship. The those who we had been 15, 20 years in the past, these dad and mom usually are not right here anymore.
Regardless that this household’s poor, they nonetheless look good. There’s a sure method through which poor Mexicans are depicted, and that was not my lived expertise. If something, we now have to strive more durable exactly due to our socioeconomic standing.
Raúl, what was it concerning the present ― and particularly, the position of Octavio ― that resonated most with you as an actor?
Castillo: Initially, I assumed I used to be going to cross on the play. Then I learn the script and felt that it was completely lovely. I used to be shocked by how transferring it was, and I’d by no means learn something prefer it.
[Director] Rubén Polendo had such a transparent imaginative and prescient when it comes to how he needed to make this play occur, when it comes to how he needed to stage it and the way he needed to conduct the method. Then Victor spoke about their inspiration for the play. These are two Mexican American artists, and I don’t run into Mexican American artists which might be working at this degree typically, to be frank.
I bear in mind considering to myself: “I’ve to do that play.” There hasn’t been a day within the course of that hasn’t reaffirmed my choice. There’s not an individual on this firm who isn’t working at their prime degree and giving it their all.
“American (Tele)visions” was initially set to premiere earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you suppose there are themes within the present that land in another way ― extra deeply, even ― due to the two-year delay?
Cazares: Due to the pandemic, we’re popping out of a interval of mourning, of actually intense grief and a distancing that we needed to have with folks. Not with the ability to see your loved ones and mates … that’s day by day life for undocumented immigrants. They’re separated from the folks they left again house. In order that isolation that they undergo consequently and that this household within the play suffers is extra legible than it was earlier than.
Raúl, the play is being staged shortly earlier than the discharge of your new film, “The Inspection.” As an actor, is it difficult so that you can transfer in between mediums?
Castillo: I like each mediums for various causes, and it’s thrilling to be again within the theater, [but] the primary evening we carried out the play for an viewers, I used to be terrified. It was an out-of-body expertise as a result of I hadn’t finished it for thus lengthy. Now, it simply appears like essentially the most pure factor. I began in theater, it’s the place I got here up.
I simply acquired to see “The Inspection” for the primary time, and I used to be so electrified by Gabrielle Union’s efficiency as a mom who rejects her queer son. As a result of I’m dwelling on this house [playing] a person who’s actually damaged by the lack of his son, it was heartbreaking to observe. However the movie is gorgeous, and I’m extremely pleased with it. I’m enthusiastic about these two tales coming to life on the similar time.
Victor, what are you most hopeful audiences take away from “American (Tele)visions”?
I need folks to be modified. I personally go to the theater to course of. I am going hoping to be modified and transfer to depart with some organ inside me displaced and perhaps in a brand new space of my physique (laughs). And I need folks to see themselves on this household. Both you see your self, otherwise you’re capable of depart some trauma.
I’m specializing in simply having this story [and] having extra folks see this undocumented Mexican household. I’d like to encourage different Mexican American youngsters to see themselves, to interact and to know that their tales are price telling and that individuals wish to see them. We deserve human rights, and a part of that human proper is having our tales informed.
This interview has been evenly edited and condensed for readability and size.