Raúl Castillo’s Had One Heck of a Year (Already)

Raúl Castillo in 'Army of the Dead.' Courtesy of Netflix. Edit by Stephany Torres for Remezcla

Mexican American actor Raúl Castillo has a busy 2021 ahead of him, and he couldn’t be more thrilled to share his diverse body of work with audiences. It’s a mix of blockbuster, shoot ’em up-type movies with more intimate independent projects that Castillo has been working to balance since coming onto the scene in 2007 with the drama Amexicano.

Since then, Castillo’s trajectory in Hollywood has skyrocketed past anything he could have ever imagined. It started in 2014 with his role in HBO’s LGTBQ-centric series Looking where he played Richie Donado Ventura, a barber living in San Francisco and the love interest of the show’s main character, Patrick (Jonathan Groff).

After two seasons on Looking, Castillo mesmerized audiences as Paps in the indie, coming-of-age drama We the Animals, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018 to universal acclaim. The film won the Sundance NEXT Innovator Award and was nominated for five Film Independent Spirit Awards, including one for Best Supporting Male for Castillo.

I really don’t ever know what I’m looking for until I find it, or it finds me.

Castillo’s 2021 started a bit under the radar with the release of his indie, sci-fi drama Little Fish about a pandemic that spreads across the world that causes memory loss. The film was supposed to have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, but was cancelled, ironically, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Castillo can be seen in two major heist movies: Guy Ritchie’s Wrath of Man and Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead.

“I really don’t ever know what I’m looking for until I find it, or it finds me,” Castillo tells Remezcla during a recent interview. In Wrath of Man, Castillo stars as Sam, a member of a former military unit looking to score big when it breaks into the headquarters of an armored truck company. Castillo describes his character as “a bit of a dark horse” with a “wry sense of humor” who he fell in love with as soon as he read the script. What also attracted him to the project was the fact that a director like Ritchie was behind it.

“When [I saw] his name come across, I was immediately interested,” Castillo said. “The film is based on this wonderful French film [Le Convoyeur], so I knew it already had a good DNA. Then, I saw that Jason Statham was attached, and I knew he and Guy had collaborated for a bunch of years. I was excited about that.”

What also excited Castillo was that he would get the opportunity to work with a mix of actors from the U.K. and U.S. that he otherwise wouldn’t have gotten a chance to collaborate alongside. The “camaraderie,” he said, was “effortless” from the start.

“The ensembles [Guy] puts together are incomparable,” he says. “When you share ales [in] the English countryside and share war stories, you start building bonds. We had a blast.”

Speaking of blasts, Castillo’s third film out this year, Army of the Dead, has its fair share of explosions. In the film, he plays Mikey Guzman, a sharpshooter who joins a group of mercenaries to loot a Las Vegas casino during a zombie apocalypse. Castillo said he’s been a fan of zombie movies since he was a kid, especially the ones George Romero directed like Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead.

Army of the Dead still. Courtesy of Netflix
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“I also grew up on Michael Jackson’s Thriller and special effects artist Rick Baker, so the 10-year-old in me was geeking out the entire time we were making Army of the Dead,” Castillo shares. “I used to play that stuff as a kid in my backyard.”

After Wrath of Man and Army of the Dead, Castillo is looking forward to introducing audiences to some other movies he has already completed. This includes the Hulu sci-fi thriller Mother/Android where he plays opposite Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) and the Netflix vampire thriller Night Teeth.

I’m a theater kid who fell in love with movies.

Castillo also won’t forget about his indie roots. He’ll star in the drama iGilbert with Dascha Polanco (In the Heights) and Adrian Martinez (Focus), who will be making his directorial debut.

“I’m a theater kid who fell in love with movies,” he explains. “I’m really excited about leveraging the audience that I hopefully gain on a project like Wrath of Man, so they can discover my work in these smaller films.”

Wrath of Man is currently playing in theaters. Army of the Dead will premiere in theaters and on Netflix May 21.