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'Looking's' Raul Castillo talks season finale: 'I was proud of Richie'

March 10, 2014|By Yvonne Villarreal
  • Jonathan Groff, left, and Raul Castillo in the HBO's series "Looking."
Jonathan Groff, left, and Raul Castillo in the HBO's series "Looking." (John P. Johnson / HBO )

He’s a guy who knows how to make an entrance and an exit.

In the pilot episode of HBO’s“Looking,” barber-and-bouncer Richie came in by way of  Muni Metro—his flirtatious charm enticing Patrick (Jonathan Groff) to step out of his comfort zone by episode’s end. Over the course of the eight-episode season, their relationship would swipe left and right like an extended session of Tinder, all the while Patrick’s hunky boss Kevin (Russell Tovey) settled in as a point in a love triangle—unbeknown to Richie, who is played by Raul Castillo.

Spoiler alert:  In Sunday’s finale, Richie ultimately decided it was time to walk away from his rushed relationship with Patrick with his dignity intact. But it won’t be the last of him. “Looking” was recently renewed for a second season, and Castillo will return as a series regular next go-round.

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We spoke to the New York-based actor by phone just after he got done parking during a recent trip to Los Angeles — “No one honked, so I feel good,” he said. Read on to get Castillo’s thoughts on whether viewers should be sad for Richie, what song he found himself singing in front of Groff and the “Looking” crew, and his mom’s thought’s on that scene (you know which one).

Can I just say, when I watched the finale, I had an overwhelming urge to scream, “Richiiiiieee!”-- like in the last scene of “La Bamba.” It ruined me.  What went through your mind when you read how things would be playing out?

Richie articulates his most vulnerable feelings in the season in that scene, I thought. And I just wanted to honor that, and what he was feeling. It was this great moment for this character to reveal something very truthful and, at the same time, something incredibly profound. I just wanted to treat that moment with care. And I also was proud of Richie for facing the reality of the situation and, as much as it hurt, stepping away. I was excited, in a weird way, to hear him assert himself. And, you know, he has asserted himself throughout the season, but I think there was something really kind of incredibly human about the feelings that he articulates in that moment.

Heading into the finale, viewers were picking sides: Team Kevin or Team Richie. Have you heard some of the chatter about how people are reacting to these two characters? 

Yeah, yeah. My girlfriend couldn’t understand why anyone would be Team Kevin. I told her that’s because she roots for the underdog. So do I, I gravitate to that. But that’s how it is. Some people are for the Yankees, and some people are for the Mets. I get so excited when I hear that the audience is polarized. I wouldn’t want it to be easy for Richie.

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I want it to be easy for Richie! 

Ha! But that’s dating! It’s about negotiating. I think the writers did a great job of portraying that.

Let’s talk about Episode No. 5, or as I like to call it: “romcom heaven.”  It was an episode entirely centered on Patrick and Richie. Was that daunting? We see intimacy on a conversational level as well as on a sexual level. 

Once we had a table read and we read the script, I was just excited. It’s a very kind of human story—that episode. It shows a real special time in a budding relationship. It’s that moment where people start revealing their private lives to each other and start assessing how another person’s world goes with or against what they thought they wanted. Jonathan and I had such a great time working together.

Well, one would hope you two didn’t hate working together when you have to deliver a sex scene like that.  I think some people wondered how you might feel filming that scene as a straight man. I mostly wonder if you beg your mom not to watch.

Ha! I'm laughing because my mother's reaction to me was, “esta fuerte, mijo” (you’re virile, my son).  When I read the scene, I knew it was going to be intimate. Real intimate. But I’m a huge fan of Andrew Haigh’s film “Weekend,” and he knows how to shoot those kind of scenes. Because sex is often awkward and almost too intimate across the board, regardless of sexual preference. And no one talks about that. Everyone thinks it's like porn. That’s not the reality.

But yeah, filming a scene like that requires a good sense of humor when you’re sitting around in the socks you have to wear down there. It’s a totally ridiculous situation, it definitely helps when you can laugh about it.

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People seemed to really appreciate, too, the conversation about sex the episode touched on —the whole top and bottom business.

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