HBO’s Looking concluded its second season with a quiet moment between Patrick (Hamilton’s Jonathan Groff) and fan favorite Richie (played by Texan native Raúl Castillo). While not wholly a happy ending for the two — both were still, at the time dating other guys — the heartwarming scene at the barbershop gave #TeamRichie fans hope. Had Patrick finally made the right call, choosing the always grounded Mexican-American barber that had wormed his way into many viewers’ hearts over of the course of the show’s eighteen episode run?
Viewers never did get a clear answer to that question. As it turned out, that scene ended up being the show’s series finale when HBO didn’t renew Looking for a third season. Luckily the network greenlit a wrap-up movie directed by executive producer (and Weekend director) Andrew Haigh.
With the film heading to our screens at the end of the month, it seemed as good a time as any to catch up with Castillo to talk about what’s happened since we last chatted with him (and since he was officially dubbed a heartthrob by the NY Times). Check out some highlights from our interview with below. Not only did Castillo tell us he’s a big Remezcla fan (something those of us who follow him on Instagram already knew) but he shared with us what it meant to revisit this character, and the changes he’s seen in the industry for Latinos since the show began.
Looking: The Movie premieres July 23rd on HBO.
On Being #TeamRichie
You know I tend to root for the underdog in general, as a viewer I’m drawn to characters like Richie. I think that all the characters are interesting. And I think the great thing about Michael [Lannan] and Andrew [Haigh] and the rest of the writers is that even if you are #TeamRichie there is something to be taken from Kevin, as a character and as a person. The interesting part about the show is the really diverse number of voices that it purports. I think that for us to get an opportunity to do the film and address how we were feeling as an audience with the story and with the characters – it was a really great gift. I know that HBO doesn’t always do that with everything, so I’m acutely aware of how lucky we are. And I know that the fans were interested in what would happen not only between Richie and Patrick but also with Agustín and Dom and Doris.
On What The Future Holds For Richie and Patrick
What’s great about the film is that, like the TV show, it’s a glimpse in time. I’m excited about what will happen between Richie and Patrick in the future. I think that the movie, like the show, kind of leaves things up for your interpretation. And that’s the kind of storytelling I like. I like storytelling that demands something of me as a participant, as an observer, as an audience member. So it doesn’t tie it up into a neat little bow tie. But I think that we get a chance to have some sort of resolution, some sort of closure.
On Being A Part of the ‘Looking’ Ensemble
We were really lucky with our show because we had this tremendous cast and so much of what we do as storytellers in film, in the theater (where I come from) and in television is, I think, in casting and the natural chemistry that occurs when you put two people in a room in front of a camera. Now that I’ve had more experience under my belt since doing Looking, I’ve realized how lucky we are in that we have this great group of people we’ve got together. And you can’t fake that. The camera either picks up what’s there or it doesn’t. I had a great scene partner in Jonathan Groff. The material that the writers gave us were great gifts. A lot of us actors, we kill for material like this and it doesn’t come around all the time. The wonderful thing about Andrew, the director, is that he puts a lot of trust in his actors and he sort of endows us with a great sense of agency. We get a lot of ownership of our characters. There’s not a lot of dictating. He puts a lot of trust in his actors and we were really lucky for it.
On Talking Diversity & Championing Complex Latino Roles
“I think the way these two [Latino] characters were done was so interesting. I hadn’t seen a lot of characters like them on screen.”
That people sort of ignored [Richie and Agustín’s Latino background] is a testament to how beautifully drawn those two characters were. Their heritage and their cultures were certainly a part of who they were. It wasn’t hidden. It certainly was explored but it wasn’t the epitome of the characters. They were about so much more than just that. But we weren’t denying their Latinidad. These were clearly two Latinos from two completely different walks of life who were given really complex writing and representation. I think the way these two characters were done it was so interesting. I hadn’t seen a lot of characters like them on screen. And even their interactions with one another were really interesting and the commentary about class and culture is incredibly American and specifically Latino. We don’t have a lot of shows like that. So I did find it kind of perplexing reading some of the stuff that was coming out about the show. But at the same time, those are the conversations that are happening. I’m glad people are vocalizing their desire for more diversity. We’re in dire need of more diverse representation. I don’t think Looking could’ve solved all the problems, but I think the writers did a good job of using the platform that they had. I know that there’s a lot of Latinos out there who were really moved by both characters and the story as a whole. You know, I have Instagram and social media and I hear fans responding to the characters and the stories. There’s a lot of heartfelt messages that I get from fans both in Latin America and Latinos in the US.
On Changes In The Industry For Latinos
“I know that there’s a lot of Latinos out there who were really moved by both characters and the story as a whole.”
It was funny because when the project (the pilot) came around in 2013, there were people around me who would say “Are you at all concerned about playing a gay character? Do you think that’ll limit you or pigeonhole you?” and I mean for all actors, whenever you take on any role you think about what it’s gonna come about from that. Will you be limited or will it open more doors? And Richie, if anything, opened up more doors. Because yeah, he’s a gay guy, he’s a Latino guy. But he’s this beautifully drawn three-dimensional human being. And I got the great honor to interpret this character. Now people are considering me for roles that are not necessarily just Latino, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that I was on this fairly loved TV show. I do see the industry shifting. Certainly from when I started. I always had an apprehensive approach to acting because I never thought that I had a place. I just didn’t see a lot of people on TV like me. There were some people who opened the doors for us and paved the way for a lot of us in the Latino community but I just didn’t feel hope for myself. But now I’m in a different point in my career and I see that people are thinking outside of the boxes. People putting people of color in roles that are not necessarily written as specifically any ethnicity. They’re going more for what you’re saying as a human being. It’s starting to open up in ways that you hadn’t seen a couple of years ago.