Apple TV+’s new series Mr. Corman comes from Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Joey interviewed him here), who also stars as the title character, Josh, a teacher who struggles with anxiety and haunting visions. In the show’s excellent supporting cast, actor Arturo Castro stands out as Josh’s roommate, who works as a UPS driver and also has a teenage daughter.
Awards Radar had the chance to speak to the energetic and friendly Castro about how he got the part, getting a whole episode devoted just to his character, and the different ways that fans of his work identify themselves when they approach him.
Q: How did you first hear about this project and what appealed to you about it?
A: They said Joseph Gordon-Levitt and I jumped at the chance to audition for it. I auditioned in December 2019, and then I didn’t hear anything, so I was like, oh, whatever, and then I got a phone call one day asking if I wanted to hop on a plane and go have a chemistry read in Los Angeles with Joe. And I was like, yeah! And so I went there and we played around in the room for fifteen minutes, and I walked out of there thinking that, if the only thing I got to do was play around with Joe for a little bit, then it was worth the trip. And then I got a call that Monday and I freaked the hell out. So I apologized to all the TSA agents that saw me dancing and going “Me! I’m the guy! I got this!” Have you ever seen the video of that bowler dude who’s like losing his mind because he threw a strike? That was me in the baggage claim.
Q: What was your first impression of Joe when you met him?
A: Well, he’s wonderful, but he’s such a literal person, and I’m so sarcastic. He was just a genuine person and loved the craft and spoke my language, the actor tongue, so it was pretty seamless, to be honest.
Q: How much are you like Victor?
A: Probably the closest I’ve ever played to myself. I guess maybe I have a little bit more ambition. But I’ve always been defined by hustle, moving from Guatemala and going to acting school and pounding the pavement. I think Victor has a sense of contentment, which is not lack of ambition. He’s just happy with where he’s at all times. He gets along with his ex, he loves his kid. A simple life is meaningful to him, and so that’s really a joy to play. The rest of it, we’re pretty similar, so you have to hold on to those little nuanced differences in order to play a character not yourself.
Q: Was there anything that was particularly difficult to relate to about him?
A: Not really. I don’t have children, except for that plant that you see back there, and it’s plastic, so there’s no risk of me killing it, thankfully, because that would cripple my Catholic guilt. But I have nieces and nephews. I was a teaching artist for many years, so I could relate to trying to connect. When in your teenage years, one year to the next is so different, and you still expect to be treating the same person you were the year before, and you just have to learn new tools to communicate year after year. Holding on to that pivoting was essential to play Victor in episode four, for sure.
Q: Let’s talk about episode four. It’s rare that a supporting character gets the title of the show renamed for them for an entire episode.
A: I know, that’s wild. It just speaks to Joe’s generosity and the producers and writers. One of my favorite parts about it is that the character is Latin but it doesn’t have anything to do with the story. We’re just human beings existing with frustrations that every human being can relate to without it being about the pain of being Latin or the struggle of it. It’s just who he is. I couldn’t believe it when I read it. It was nerve-wracking but I was definitely like, whoa, cool, let’s play around for thirty minutes together.
Q: What can you say about the actors who portray your daughter and your ex?
A: Holy smokes! Miley Delgado. I was about to say that. It’s her first acting job. At thirteen or fourteen, I could never have tackled material this big, on such a big stage. Credit to Joe and Aurora, and I also tried to build a space for her in which she knew that you can’t make a mistake that’s going to ruin the show. You cannot mess this up was our main objective. There’s nothing you can do. You can play. Particularly Joe having been a child actor, he just knows how to build a safe, welcoming environment. She knocked it out of the park, man! Also, in the show, she’s going through a difficult time, but she’s such a sweetheart in real life. Whenever she had questions for me, she would ask her mom to please leave the stage. Filled me with a lot of joy. And Michelle Ortiz, my ex-wife, holy smokes! First of all, in real life, she is hilarious. Holy macaroni! We went to a concert together with forty thousand people in the middle of a pandemic in New Zealand because there was no COVID there at the time. Just her asides, being like, do you think they want to hug us, were just so hilarious. When we got to set, it was so seamless to work with her. One of my favorite scenes, in the last scene, when you see these two people who are no longer together but you can imagine what it was like when they were together. It was just a lot of laughing and making it work.
Q: Will we see them again in season one?
A: Hopefully. You’ll have to watch and see!
Q: Let’s talk about episode five, which is another fun episode for you. You said you’re very similar to your character – how do you relate to social media and the idea of having followers?
A: Oh yeah, right. I try to be as genuine as possible. Dax’s character is so on top of it. It’s really endearing to me. Victor doesn’t really care about his follower account, but somebody says five hundred and he’s like, actually, that would be pretty cool if I could make it. One of my favorite parts of that episode is that, if you told me when I was five years old that eventually my job would be dressing up as Batman and having these massive fight scenes with wire work and stuff, I would have lost my mind. Doing that in this magical place that is New Zealand, man, I felt like my chest was going to burst out, I was so grateful.
Q: Is there anything that you can preview about the second half of season one, or you’re not supposed to say anything?
A: Yeah! What I can tell you is that, the journey that Josh goes on, each episode is going to get more and more surprising. Going to keep you guessing. There are a couple episodes, man, throughout the series, but there’s one which is just him and another actor mostly the entire episode. It’s an acting masterclass, truly. You establish characters in one through four and then, I think, five through ten, you just get to play and watch them evolve.
Q: You’ve also had some great roles in the past. I know I enjoyed watching you on Narcos and Silicon Valley. What are some of your favorites, and what do you find you’re recognized for most?
A: Broad City, Narcos, and Alternatino would be the three, I would say, and I can usually recognize which fan it is by how they approach me. Narcos fans are a little more hesitant. They’re like, hey, man, just wanted to say, while Alternatino fans are like, hey, man! How’s it going? Want to FaceTime my mom? Want to come to dinner? They’re so welcoming and sweet. Narcos fans probably think I’m a psychopath. They call me Mr. Castro. I’m like, he’s my dad. But yeah, it’s fun to watch, it’s fun to see, after all these years that I’ve been doing it, people can see a range and trajectory that I’m really proud of. Silicon Valley was so fun, dude! It was one of my first big offers, just a show that I was a fan of that I didn’t even have to audition. Kumail Nanjiani actually got me that job. Mike Judge was like, we need a character that can be incredibly scary and incredibly funny, and he was like, dude, watch a clip of Narcos and one of Broad City. It was a pleasure to shoot, oh my god. I love playing characters that keep you guessing and keep you on your toes.
Q: Are you working on anything else at the moment?
A: Yeah, I don’t think I can announce it yet, but within the next week, I’m going down south to shoot a very exciting movie. Holy smokes, it’s all happening so fast! It’s exciting. This is going to be the first big, long project I do since we wrapped Mr. Corman in March, so I’m really excited.
New episodes of Mr. Corman premiere every Friday on Apple TV+.