David Castro’s career began at the age of 5 when he starred in a Nickelodeon Sponge Bob commercial. Since then he’s been featured in countless films including: The Little Fugitive, Arranged, Where God Left His Shoes, The Man, 27 Dresses, The Ministers, Forged, Tio Papi and Fugly! Fans can currently see David as Raphael Santiago (the leader of New York’s local vampire clan) on Freeform’s hit fantasy series Shadowhunters. Talk Nerdy With Us recently caught up with David to discuss Raphael’s arc this season. Keep reading to find out what he had to say about Vampire makeup (teeth and nails) and Simon.
Tell us about your audition process for Shadowhunters?
It was quite interesting. I was in Mexico, filming a movie called Going South, and my agent calls me. He said, “Listen, they’re interested in you playing the vampire. They want you to audition,” but the only way I was able to do it was to put myself on tape. I had a friend of mine, who was like, “Yeah, I’ll put you on tape,” but I was in Mexico, so I had to cross the border, and it was a nightmare. (laughs). You know how that is. It took two-three hours to cross the border. I finally get in. I’m like, “Let’s do this.” We’re rushing. We put the tape together. We submitted it, and then I think two days later, I found out that I got it. I was like, “Oh my gosh.” It was worth it!
You were in Mexico? Were you super tan?
Yes … You know what? My vampire, Raphael Santiago, he’s from Mexico.
It was fate.
I was like, “This is so weird,” the way everything is working out right now. It’s like the stars aligned.
Tell us a bit about Going South?
We filmed in Mexico. It should be coming out hopefully this summer. I play a young kid who’s a rock n’ roll singer, but both of my parents die, and I’m very depressed, so my grandmother sends my uncle to come get me to bring me back to Mexico. Where I’m originally from, to teach me about my heritage. It’s a dramedy, so there’s a lot of comedy, a lot of drama, but he brings me back to Mexico to show me my heritage, and we overcome a lot of obstacles. We’re sent down there by a witch, so that’s in and of itself … it’s going to be very funny. I can’t wait to see it. Paul Rodriguez is in it. He was awesome. He was a really nice guy. I’m really, really looking forward to seeing that.
Back to Shadowhunters, had you read the book series or seen the movie prior to auditioning? Were you familiar with The Mortal Instruments at all?
I wasn’t familiar at all. It really was fresh meat for me. I had to research. I had to research my character, and then I found out that the franchise had a cult following, so there was a lot of books. I skimmed through some of them, the first book, and I’m starting on the Bane Chronicles, which has a book for my character. There’s a complete book about my character, which is cool because it gives you a little insight on him and what he’s about, what he’s like, and his personality, but I really wasn’t that familiar with it. It was a very short noticed, rushed process, but I pulled it together, and it was a blast!
What drew you to the role of Raphael?
His appearance. What it says that he looks like in the books is literally me: the honey colored skin, the black, curly hair, his build. (laughs). Everything is literally me. It’s like, “Wow, that’s awesome.” I pretty much look exactly like the character. Then I can put my own vibes and twist and vice into him and also go back and see what the books say about him.
Is Raphael the closest character to you that you’ve played?
Yeah, I would say he’s up there when it comes to similarities, absolutely, except I don’t drink blood. (laughs).
Besides the physical similarities, how are you similar and how are you different from him?
He’s a very honorable person. He’s a man of his word, which I am, and like I said before, I don’t drink blood. He has a pinch of … He’s a little arrogant, but he’s a little conceded as well, which I’m not. But, I can relate to him.
Different shows have different ways of making fake blood. What is it that you guys had to eat or, I guess, drink for the fake blood?
I luckily did not have to drink any of the blood. There’s a character who does. I can’t say too much. I’ll get in trouble, but I think they used tomato sauce, which was gross, to be honest, because it was chunky and stuff. It just didn’t look appetizing, and I was like, “you know what, I’m so lucky that I don’t have to drink this because I would’ve probably puked,” but I’m pretty sure come season two, we’ll probably have better blood.” It looked real, it looked great, but to drink it, that was the only problem.
What’s the hardest part about playing a vampire?
I would have to say the fangs. The fangs take a little getting used to, like speaking and talking. You slur your words a little bit because it’s this whole piece that you have to put in your mouth. It was a little challenging at first, saying words that started with the letter s. (laughs). I would have a little bit of a lisp, but then it breaks in, and you get the hang of it, and it was cool. Also, the nails. The nails are a pain in the butt. I couldn’t stand them, because I would have an action scene or a fighting scene, and these nails, they weren’t like the girls nails that they have on nowadays, where it’s like the super hard gel that keeps it on your finger. I could grab somebody and five nails go flying across the camera, and I’m like, “Oh my goodness, cut.” They’re like, “Put his nails back on. Somebody put his nails back on. (laughs). Oh, goodness. This is not good. First day, nails going everywhere.” It was fun, though.
How long would it take for the makeup?
About an hour. When I first got there, the first day when we were experimenting, they didn’t know what they wanted me to look like, so first it was normal, and then they were like, “No, he’s not pale enough. Let’s make him a little more pale.” Then I was like, “He’s pale. You know what? I think it’s a little too much,” so then we brought it back to my own skin color, and they said, “No, we want him super pale now,” so now I was white as a ghost, and then everything was a little bit rough, but we pulled it together. We got it all figured out, and now we’re good to go. The rest of the episodes were a walk in the park, but yeah, it takes about an hour.
And how long would it take to remove the makeup then?
It actually didn’t take that long. Peeling off the nails, when they were falling off constantly, they had to super glue them, so that was actually a little bit painful popping off the nails. I’m literally taking this knife instrument and sticking it in between my nail and the fake nail, and I’m trying to pop these super glued nails off my nail, and it was ripping my cuticle up. (laughs). That was the only hard part. I’d just take a hot rag and wipe the makeup all off. There was one day where I was rushing. I wanted to get back to my hotel, and I was like, “The hell with it, let’s just leave the makeup on,” so I walked into my hotel, and everyone was looking at me like, “What the hell is this guy doing?” They looked at me like I had two heads on because I was pale as a ghost. (laughs).
Did the vampire makeup help you get into character because you don’t look like you?
Yes, the vampire makeup and the vampire wardrobe, because they’re very elegant, have such a cool presence, but the wardrobe makes it all. They wear the coolest clothes, so I really enjoy that.
Did you take home any of the outfits after filming ended?
I was trying to steal a Versace jacket. (laughs). I’m just joking. Unfortunately, no, they didn’t let me.
Fans first got a glimpse of you in episode 2. What can you tease about Raphael’s storyline this season?
I wish there was something I could tease about. There’s definitely a lot of twists and turns when it comes to him and the relationships he builds. I can’t say with who or what it has to do with, but I think it’s going to catch the fans and the audience, whoever is watching. It’s going to catch them off guard, and they’re not going to be expecting it. It’s definitely something to stay tuned for because it’s going to be exciting.
What was it like filming in Toronto?
It was nice. They have great food, very diverse. They pretty much have everything down there. It was nice. I was staying in the Soho Metropolitan, which was a really nice hotel. The people down there are very sweet, and I enjoyed it. It was really nice. I actually ran into … I want to say a buddy of mine, hopefully he will be in the future, but I was eating lunch, and I heard some guy. He was sitting down and he was laughing, and I was like, “Man, that sounds so familiar, that voice,” and I look up, and it’s Will Smith sitting across from me. (laughs). I’m like, “Whoa.” He was filming the movie The Suicide Squads. He didn’t notice me. I obviously noticed him. It was pretty cool. It’s a great hotel, and like I said, the people, the food, everything is amazing down there.
To get to know a little more about you, when did you begin to golf?
About two years ago, and I got the golf bug, and it’s like an addiction. Now I can’t really play because it’s too cold outside. That’s why I’m saying I got to move to Florida, I got to get out of here (New York). My friend from high school got me into it, and I’ve been golfing ever since.
What’s the best score you’ve ever shot?
My best score was a 77. Which was pretty good. It’s not, “Oh my gosh, you’re amazing,” but I had a really good day. I was striking the ball nice. I was very lucky, too. In Golf, sometimes you need to have a little bit of luck, and it was fun.
Since our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, what do you nerd out about, or what makes you a nerd?
Golf is pretty nerdy. Golf, and I’m really into cars. I like fast cars. I can literally talk to anyone about cars, if they want to talk about it or not. I can just talk your ear off. I just love cars. That can make me a little bit of a nerd, but pretty much golf, too, because I golfed with Phil Mickelson, when I was filming the movie in Mexico, I met his daughter. She was part of my cast (Sophia Mickelson). So long story short, Phil was at the get together, the dinner before we start shooting, and he put out his hand, because the lawn producer was a part of the film, went up to him and was like, “Hey, listen, our lead actor, he’s a big golfer,” and he was just joking around with him, like, “Hey, let’s get a round together, ha ha,” and he said, “Okay.”
Phil puts his hand out and shakes my hand, and said, “All right, David, we’re on for Thursday.” I’m like, “Huh? What do you mean we’re on? What are we on?” He said, “We’re going to go play a round of golf, on my home course, The Bridges.” He’s like, “I don’t care what you shoot. We’re just going to go out and have fun.” I was like, “Wow.” It’s insane. I didn’t believe it. I set 15 alarm clocks to make sure I woke up. (laughs). I couldn’t put the golf ball on the first tee on the first hole I was so nervous. Phil Mickelson was standing behind me like, “Hey, you better not mess up.” He was such a nice guy.
Did you golf with anybody from the Shadowhunters cast?
No. I didn’t golf, but I was trying to teach Alberto (Rosende), who plays Simon. I was trying to teach him. We went to a golf shop, where they have an indoor simulator, and I brought him in and I was trying to teach him how to hit the golf balls. I was like, “Listen, it’s really difficult. You got to do this, you got to do that, and make sure your shoulder is here and your foot is there, and make sure you transfer your weight, yada yada yada,” and the kid puts the ball on the tee and friggin’ whacks it 200 something yards. (laughs). I’m like, “Are you for real now?” It took me six months to do this, and I said, “Dude, we got to go out and play.” Come season two, we’ll have some time off and we’ll be able to hit the courses.
So what did you do to bond with the cast?
We went out to dinner a lot. They play a game called Werewolf. I was not there at the time. They promised me next time when we’re all together that they would have me play, but we would go out to dinner a lot. I went to the mall with Alberto. We got some workout supplements, and it was fun. It was just everyone is around my age, so it was a lot of fun. We really get along great.
Do you have plans to release an EP or LP of your own?
Potentially yes. I can sing. I have a good sound. I just need the right people to get behind me, or the right song, but me and my sister, we play instruments around the house. I play the piano and sing, so I can definitely see myself branching off or releasing a song or something like that. I’m also a dancer. I was on a competition team since I was little, so I can definitely see myself performing too, so yeah.
Shadowhunter character, excluding Raphael? That’s a tough one. I do like Jace because he has really dry humor and a cool personality, but then again, the jokester of the gang is Simon, so I would have to go with Simon.
Karaoke song? It has to be a Bob Marley song. Any Bob Marley song.
Sports team? The Rangers, because I’m a hockey guy.
Car brand? My favorite car is the Nissan Skyline GTR, but I’m trying to think of my next favorite car. There’s so many. I like all of them. I’m a BMW guy. BMW 335 or BMW M4, M5, M6, any of the M’s I like.
Golf course? The Bridges, because that’s where I play with Phil Mickelson!
Phone app? Shazam, because whenever I hear a song on the radio, I need to know the name, or if I’m in a restaurant and I hear a song I can’t leave without knowing what the name of the song was.
Shadowhunters airs Tuesdays at 9pm/8c on Freeform, and the following day on Netflix for international users.