Five Questions With... Raúl Castillo, Actor in WE THE ANIMALS and ATLANTIC CITY

You may recognize actor Raúl Castillo from his TV work in such shows as HBO's Looking or Netflix's Seven Seconds. But he's also accumulated quite a film career, including his performances in #NFF18 feature film WE THE ANIMALS and short film ATLANTIC CITY. Read more with this dynamic actor, and see his films next week!

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NFF: Both of these characters could be considered similar: working class men trying to do the best they can in difficult circumstances. Are these the kind of roles you seek out, or do people see these these roles in you?

Raúl: I shot ATLANTIC CITY right after WE THE ANIMALS - it was that same summer. I remember the process of ANIMALS was so intense and so beautiful, but I wanted something to jump into right away that was very different. It's great that you see through-lines, because in the moment, it felt very different to me. ANIMALS came through my representatives and I auditioned for it and I'm so proud of it. But the ATLANTIC CITY director, Miguel Alvarez  - I've known him for 16 or 17 years - I made my first short film with him. We've collaborated on a number of projects over the years. I guess now that we're talking about it, those roles are also similar to Richie on Looking - a combination of masculinity and vulnerability is what they're looking for.

NFF: And that seems like a new kind of man in film, at least in the last handful of years. Are you seeing or hearing a conversation around sensitivity in men being represented onscreen? 

Raúl: You know, my father didn't cook or change diapers. I see my friends and their relationships to their sons are way different now than in the past. I mean, I'm surrounded by artists and sensitive people,  but I do think the culture is shifting. I hope so. Even the way people are seeking these stories out and media is changing and stories are being told. People are demanding there be a broad range of cultural representation.

NFF: On one of these films you worked with friends that you've known for almost 20 years. Do you think chemistry is important? Do you like to have a personal relationship when you work?

Raúl: Yes, although not everyone is like that. It confuses me when I come up against that. I feel like as an art form it's all about getting personal, and sometimes that's not always comfortable. And then sometimes not being personal IS the chemistry. It depends on the character. Because I didn't train as an actor, I have to reinvent the wheel every time. 

NFF: I've heard the saying that you can't judge your character as an actor - do you agree? 

Raúl: I believe with few exceptions there are no good or bad people, just people who do good and bad things. When you judge your character, you die. You have to understand the why. With Pops [in WE THE ANIMALS], the more I learn about men in my own family, the more I can understand where he's coming from. Abuse is cycled and passed down and everyone is just trying their best. That's the way I have to approach people I'm playing and that character in particular. The novel is written with so much love, that even though he does frightening, at times horrific things, I have to honor the love that was there.

NFF: What do you hope audiences take away from WE THE ANIMALS?

Raúl: If we did the novel justice, the audience is in for a pretty beautiful ride. The kids in this film - I'm just so proud of them and their work and they were so fascinating to share that experience with. I hope people are infected by their charm and their brilliance the way I was. 

 WE THE ANIMALS

WE THE ANIMALS

 ATLANTIC CITY

ATLANTIC CITY