Jaime may be the sweetest character on Comedy Central’s hit show “Broad City,” and it turns out Arturo Castro, the actor who plays him, is just as lovely. We bumped into Castro on the subway, where he graciously offered us his seat and promised to talk later about what it’s like to play Ilana’s roommate. We caught up with Castro and he talked about the inspiration for his character, his love for Jaime’s scarves and his friendship with Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer.
You’re from Guatemala. Is Jaime also Guatemalan?
I think we settled on Jaime being from, like, four different countries, including Venezuela and Colombia. I’m not sure where the real Jaime is from.
There is a real Jaime?
Jaime is based on a couple of people, like Ilana’s roommate and one of Abbi’s best friends called Jaime. He’s a super sweet guy; if I have any questions about my character, I’ll take him out to lunch and then I’m all set.
Is Jaime the character more like Jaime than he is like Arturo?
I guess you can put a lot of yourself into whatever character you portray. When I first got the role, I hadn’t met Jaime, so it was my interpretation of what I thought the character would sound like. He has a genuine sweetness about him so I bring that into the character. He’s a marriage of both of us.
How did you get set up with the “Broad City” cast?
They sponsored a child from Guatemala and when I grew up I came to the U.S. to find them and ask for a job. [Laughs] I auditioned like everybody else. When I met Abbi and Ilana in the audition room, it was one of those feelings like I’d known them for my whole life. They’ve done an amazing thing for me. Ever since they pointed at me and said “yes” a whole lot of doors opened for me. I’m very grateful for it.
Would you say the cast members are close?
It’s hard not to be. Everyone’s a genuinely good person. That’s one of the reasons people relate to the show so much. We’re all having fun and cracking each other up on set. It’s a very natural way to bring comedy to people. Your audience is always smart and intuitive. If the chemistry is forced, they’ll pick up on it. And on “Broad City” we don’t have to force anything. I go to brunch with Abbi, and Ilana and I traveled to Guatemala together – she came with her boyfriend – so that was really fun. We stayed at my beach house and got to see the country and had a great time getting to know each other. There’s an added layer of familiarity for the second season.
“Broad City” is so different from anything else that’s out there. Did you know what you were getting into when you first saw the script?
I didn’t know much about it when I first auditioned, but when I first read it. I would have done it for free. Their voice is so original and memorizing lines isn’t hard because it’s such an organic show of people relating to each other, so when I first read the script, I knew we had something very special on our hands. The fact that Abbi and Ilana wrote it and performed it so well – I knew I was in great hands. Every time I get to read scripts, it’s evolving, and it’s so cool to see because you can hear Abbi and Ilana’s voice in it. My bosses are my good friends.
Have you always done comedy?
My mom thinks I’m really funny [laughs] but mostly I was a dramatic theater actor before. Comedy has always come easy for me and I’ve had a good sense of comedic timing my whole life … Comedy has the same parts in every language – the delivery is just different. I’ve created a new show called “Alternatino” – there’s a Latino in all of us listening. It’s going to take the premise that we all laugh at the same things and we’re going to try to marry cultures and bring in some Latin flavor, but also American, Brooklyn flavor, and people can meet and enjoy what we have in common. It’s really exciting; I’m going off to L.A. to have a meeting about it.
“Broad City” is filled with celebrity cameos. Who have been your favorites?
To be honest – my favorite was when I met Amy Poehler for the first time. It was for the pilot and I showed up on set and here’s Amy, who I’ve admired for a long time and she’s like, “Arturo, thanks so much for coming.” It was such a surreal moment. I forgot how to speak English for a moment. This season we’re going to have a cameo from one of the cast members of “Arrested Development” and she was awesome – she was so cool.
I met David Hyde Pierce on the set of “The Good Wife,” and he loves “Broad City.” I’d been watching “Frasier” for three months, so it was a coincidence .I hope he does an episode at some point so I can work with him again.
Will we get to know more about Jaime this season?
Yes; he’s still Ilana’s roommate. There’s one episode that revolves around Jaime. It was really, really great to be able to shoot for a week and live in Jaime’s skin and explore the situation. It’s one of my favorite episodes and it’s going to be awesome. It comes out on Feb. 18.
And I love Jaime’s outfits! The costume department on “Broad City” kills it! It’s such an exciting thing to go for the initial fitting and they always get the most amazing scarves for Jaime.
Jaime is really known for his unsolicited confessions.
I think the thing with Jaime is that he’s a very sensitive person and character and I think the little things most of us wouldn’t even take into consideration, he feels so bad about. [In heavy Latin-American accent] “Okay, I’m going to tell you this, and I’m so sorry.” Some people come up to me when they see me on the street and they say seriously that I should give Ilana back her charger and I say, “I’m so sorry.”
Will we see more confessions from Jaime?
You’ll definitely see things from Jaime that he will want to confess in life. A lot of this season he’s more empowered, so you’ll see what Jaime’s like in social situations where he feels very free, so that’s something to look forward to.
People keep comparing “Broad City” to “Girls.” What do you think?
I can’t compare the two because I think what they have in common is that they’re both created and produced by really intelligent, talented women. I think people compare them because they both have female leads and take place in New York, but they’re both masterpieces in their own right.
Abbi and Ilana portray themselves as total slackers, but they’re showrunners. Are they just being modest?
The characters are exaggerated about a part of them, but they’re the hardest working people you’ve ever met. Last year, toward the end of the year, they were editing while they were about to go on tour. They’d come back and keep editing and they didn’t really stop for six months. Definitely, Abbi and Ilana are the two hardest working people I’ve ever met. The thing about it is they make it seem really easy and I’m sure it’s not. I’m just awestruck by how they can juggle so many things at once – I can barely walk and chew bubble gum. But you know, I walk sideways.