HBO’s San Francisco-sry “Looking” is back for a second season, and star Raúl Castillo knows that fans have opinions about the love triangle between his character, Richie, and Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and Kevin (Russell Tovey). As for Castillo himself? Firmly Team Richie, which isn’t that big of a surprise.
What are you allowed to talk about for the new season?
I mean, they haven’t asked me to hold back in any way, but I do like an element of surprise. I think that they’re doing a really great job this season of opening up the world and introducing new characters, building deeper into our main characters and learning more about them, what makes them tick. So it’s been exciting to see.
How often do people just come up to you and express their opinion about whether Patrick is an idiot?
(laughs) I get some of that, but more just genuine praise — for the character, really. That’s a testament to the writers and the level of humanity that they brought to my character and that we collectively together did. But in San Francisco it was a lot more frequent than in New York. I get stopped on the street and people will say really nice things about the show. It’s great to hear that kind of vocal, enthusiastic feedback.
But when you’re on a show that’s so much about relationships, people can tend to get more invested.
Absolutely, absolutely. And people feel really strongly one way or the other. There’s always the Team Richie camp. That is funny how it plays out that way.
Watching the first season, I just thought your character could do better, honestly.
(laughs) Well, I think Richie represents a part of Patrick that I think he has, in the same way that Kevin represents another part of him. It’s all about him grappling with those two sides of him. I think it’s exciting. It’s a fun way to explore this one character, through his love life.
Are you able to remove yourself from the equation and have your own opinion about it? Or does playing Richie cloud your feelings?
I mean, I always root for the underdog. I think if I were watching it naturally my inclination would lean toward Richie anyway, so yeah.
The production of this feels very much like an indie film. Is there a difference in the atmosphere on set to other television you’ve done?
I would say it’s one of the easiest, most comfortable working environments that I’ve been in, between theater, television and film. The symbiosis with the cast and the crew and [executive producer] Andrew [Haigh] specifically, he really sets the tone and creates an environment where everyone is working toward a common goal. There’s definitely an indie feel. We get asked a lot about whether our dialogue is improvised because people tend to think it feels very off the cuff, I guess. And it’s a testament to our writers just how scripted it is. There’s very little improv, actually. I think it’s written very naturalistically. Andrew leans in that direction, and he’s a lot of fun to work around, too.
How did filming in San Francisco change once the show had been on the air?
Even just among our crew, because a lot of them were local, they expressed how glad they were that we were back. And then that extended to the city of San Francisco itself. People gave us a lot of love on the street. The first year, I was kind of anonymous, and that was a wonderful asset to have as an actor. And this year was a little bit different. People would be approaching us on the street, but the feedback is usually really positive. I think people appreciate how the show depicts the city.
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