WORDS JONATHAN WALIK

GT (UK) - - LOOKING -

If there’s one character who un­doubt­edly won the favour, support and em­pa­thy from the Look­ing fans, it was Raúl Castillo’s Richie. He quickly let it be known he wasn’t one to take shit from any­body – es­pe­cially not his love in­ter­est and on-off boyfriend Pa­trick. His com­bi­na­tion of nerve, clas­si­cally hand­some fea­tures and the fact he could play the gui­tar made him an in­stant hit. So much so that, by the end of the show, #team­richie didn’t just be­come an over­whelm­ing procla­ma­tion of support from the fans, it be­came a way of life. Sort of. Straight ac­tor Raúl spoke to us about play­ing gay in one of HBO’s big­gest hits, what fire­works to ex­pect in se­ries two and just WHY ev­ery­one loves Richie...

How did you get in­volved with the show? I did a short film with Michael Lannan in 2011 called Lorimer. That was the pro­to­type for what later be­came Look­ing. In it, I played the character that was to be­come Richie. So you were in­volved be­fore every­body else? I had to au­di­tion too! But yeah, I was in this early in­car­na­tion of it. Were you aware of the project’s po­ten­tial at the time? I had NO idea. Michael called me around De­cem­ber 2012 when HBO had green-lit the pi­lot. It was a com­plete sur­prise to me. What can you tell us about the sec­ond sea­son? I’m ex­cited about the new char­ac­ters that are be­ing in­tro­duced, and the way that we’re ex­pand­ing the world that we al­ready cre­ated in se­ries one. The dif­fer­ent as­pects of the com­mu­nity we see in the Bay Area, to me, was a lot of fun to ex­plore. On its de­but, there were a range of re­ac­tions, es­pe­cially from the gay com­mu­nity. Were you aware of the po­ten­tial so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity that you had with the show? The best thing we can do is stay true to the story we’re try­ing to tell. I knew that peo­ple would have their own wants and needs from the show. We can’t please every­body – we’d end up pleas­ing no one. We do have a great re­spon­si­bil­ity and I see that in projects that are also Latino-based, where peo­ple come to the ta­ble with all kinds of ex­pec­ta­tions. Has that pres­sure been frus­trat­ing as an ac­tor on the show? The only time I feel pres­sure is when I make the mis­take of go­ing on­line and read­ing com­ments. My great­est re­spon­si­bil­ity at the end of the day is to Richie. Richie has got a sub­stan­tial on­line fol­low­ing, with many pro­claim­ing #team­richie. Why do you think peo­ple have con­nected with the character so much? His hon­esty, his trans­parency, his strong sense of prin­ci­ples, his abil­ity to ar­tic­u­late his needs to Pa­trick and how firm he stands. I think peo­ple like to see a character re­ally stand his ground. Your scene with Pa­trick on the last episode was the most heart wrench­ing and beau­ti­ful scene of the whole sea­son. Can you give any hints on the fu­ture of Richie and Pa­trick? Se­ries two is about them learn­ing how to con­tinue a re­la­tion­ship out­side of this re­la­tion­ship. They met ran­domly, on a train, but the peo­ple we meet in ar­bi­trary ways of­ten have the most pro­found ef­fect on us. There are con­sis­tently sto­ries of ac­tors be­ing hes­i­tant or be­ing warned against tak­ing on gay roles. Did you ex­pe­ri­ence any of this? I re­ally didn’t. I don’t think there are a lot of Latino char­ac­ters like him on TV, so I feel very lucky to get to play some­one like Richie. The fact that he’s gay is one part of him. I think he’s re­ally multi di­men­sional, so I was never wor­ried. Friends will ask me about that kinda thing, but I think it’s opened more doors for me as an ac­tor than it’s closed. On a side note, are you aware that Buz­zfeed voted your beard as the sec­ond best fa­cial hair on the show? This isn’t even a ques­tion, just a fact we think you should be aware of. Yes, I saw that! That was an hon­our, a com­plete hon­our. I’ll lose to Dom any­time. Along­side Look­ing, you’ve also done a lot of other work across the­atre, TV and film. Any up­com­ing projects you’re par­tic­u­larly ex­cited about? I just fin­ished an in­de­pen­dent film called Star­ing at the Sun, which we shot in New York. Hope­fully it’ll go to some fes­ti­vals. I’m also a play­wright and I have a pro­duc­tion of a play that I wrote called Be­tween You, Me and the Lamp­shade that’s pre­mier­ing in Chicago next year.

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