Meet 'Mr. Morales': Arturo Castro on his showcase episode of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Mr. Corman
Mr. Corman (TV series)
Warning: This article contains mild spoilers for the fourth episode of Mr. Corman.
Viewers queuing up this week's episode of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Mr. Corman will get a (slightly) different show than the one they expected. After three episodes about Gordon-Levitt's Josh Corman, the series' fourth entry, "Mr. Morales," shifts the focus to his friend and roommate Victor, played by Arturo Castro. The episode is a true showcase for the former Broad City star, as Victor struggles through a weekend with his teenage daughter, Gabi (newcomer Miley Delgado).
"It speaks to Joe's generosity as an artist to let this character have the spotlight," Castro tells EW. "And part of the joy of this show is that my character just happens to be Latin… My ethnicity has nothing to do with the inner struggles of the character, which is really rare."
That was just part of why Mr. Corman meant so much to the actor: "I'm a huge Joseph Gordon-Levitt fan, always have been," he says. "I've been seeing this guy perform since I was a teenager, and I couldn't believe I got a chance to work with him. And it's a really human show. It's a show that tells you it's okay not to be okay, and that there are people around you that are willing to listen and to go through it with you. I think that's so important, particularly right now, after we all went through something collective together. To me, the show is a healing experience for anybody that watches it."
With his showcase episode now streaming on Apple TV+, Castro talked with EW about getting his turn in the spotlight, playing "just a guy" on screen, and why he "didn't touch Italian food for months" after filming the episode.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Before we get into this episode specifically, can you tell us about how you got involved with Mr. Corman in the first place?
ARTURO CASTRO: Well, they thought they were hiring Wilmer Valderrama. [Laughs] No, it was a roller coaster. I sent in a tape, and then I got a phone call to come to L.A. and have a chemistry read with Joe. I remember leaving the read thinking that if the only thing I got out of it was to be able to work with Joe in a room for a few minutes, then it was worth it. Then we started working together, and it was really a dream come true.
What was it like to work with him on the show?
It's like a feat of genius if you can be famous for that long but still be such a well-adjusted human being. He really takes your thoughts into consideration and thinks about any question that you ask him. Also, it's the first time I've ever worked with a director who's also such an accomplished actor, and there was a shorthand in the way that we spoke to each other. There's an episode where I have a heavy, emotional monologue, and I remember walking to set and nobody was talking to me. I was like, "Is it something I said?" And he was just making sure nobody distracted me or got me out of that zone, which is something that I didn't even know that I could ask for. And it helped the monologue tremendously.
Joe has said that your character, Victor, is partially based on a high school friend of his. Did you two talk about that at all?
Yeah, Joe invited me to his birthday party, and I thought there would be a bunch of actors there, and it was just all his high school friends. One of them was Hector, who the character's based on, so I got to see them interact. I didn't do an imitation of Hector, I just took something from the ease with which they treat each other. And actually, Hector is in the first episode. When we're all sitting around smoking weed and playing video games, he's the guy on my right.
So shifting gears to the "Mr. Morales" episode, what was your reaction when you first read that script?
I couldn't believe it, man. Part of the joy of this show is that my character just happens to be Latin; there's nothing about the pain of it or whatever. It's just like, he's a Latin dude. It's an episode about a guy just existing, and I've rarely had the opportunity of being just a guy [on screen]. It's interesting how subversive and unique and against stereotype that was. Like, he gets along with his ex, he's trying his best to be a good dad, he loves his job, and he's pretty happy with where he's at; he's a very optimistic person. It was such a joy for me to play something like that.
What was it like working with Miley Delgado, the young actress playing your daughter, and creating your dynamic with her?
That was her first [time on set] ever, and she handled it with such grace and talent that I was just in awe of her. We really wanted to take the mystery and pressure away from the shooting process, so that she could feel free to explore. Like, [we told her], "There's no way you can mess this up. There's no mistake you can make that will ruin the show. Just don't torture yourself, and try as best you can to enjoy this experience." And in between takes, I was always like, "Give me a high-five," and I would grab my arm and be like, "The power of your talent is coursing through me!" She'd be like, "Shut up!" [Laughs] I did my best to be an embarrassing dad to her.
And, you know, I have nephews and nieces, and I've spent swaths of time not seeing them, and they grew up in that time. So it was like meeting a new person [when I saw them again]. I think that's what happens when you're a teenager: You're changing constantly, and your parents are trying to teach you as the kid that they know. I drew on a lot of that to figure out that struggle of not being able to communicate fully but trying your best to.
I have to ask about that wild dream sequence in the episode, where you're strapped in a chair and get Bolognese sauce slathered on your face. What was it like shooting that?
Holy smokes. I didn't touch Italian food for like four months after that. The prop department made it quite tasty, but by the fifth time… it gets weird. My relationship with food got weird. [Laughs] But it spoke to the discomfort of the character at the time, so I was happy to go through it. I really believe this of acting in general: You have to put yourself in a place where you don't know what's going happen next. And I think external elements like being uncomfortable, or being covered in sauce or whatever it is, really help [give] you a visceral reaction, which I think is what the audience responds to.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt created and stars in this not-quite-autobiographical dramedy about a fifth-grade teacher and would-be musician wrestling with self-loathing, anxiety, and family drama.