Road House Henchman Arturo Castro Is the Funniest Part of the Remake

Photograph: Getty Images; Collage: Gabe Conte

The original 1989 Road House, directed by Rowdy Herrington and starring Patrick Swayze as Dalton, dares to imagine an America in which a humble bar bouncer can be both (a) nationally renowned for kicking ass and (b) so nationally renowned for kicking ass that he’s able to go by a celebrity-style mononym. It’s a softly lit, campy action romp that’s often unintentionally hilarious. The 2024 retelling of Road House, directed by Doug Liman, is grittier and more sinister. Jake Gyllenhaal’s Dalton is a former UFC fighter who’s more shredded than a truckload of Enron documents, and carries a dark past (that everyone seems to know about.) There is one reliable source of intentional comic relief in the film, however, and that’s Arturo Castro.

Castro plays Moe, a member of the gang that’s been terrorizing the titular Road House. He’s quickly revealed to be a gentle soul—and, in Castro’s hands, a scene-stealing character. With Road House debuting on Prime today, Castro talked to GQ about getting jacked for the remake and what he learned from original Road House villain Ben Gazzarra.

GQ: So where are you today?

Arturo Castro: I'm in New York, by Central Park. It's a beautiful day in New York. Where are you?

I'm also in New York. Enjoying this beautiful 30-degree spring day.

Honestly, I miss seasonal depression, dude. I’ve lived in LA for four years now, and I miss walking around with everything okay, and just feeling a little sad for some reason.

Well, congrats on Road House. How did the role come your way initially?

I did one episode of a show called The Recruit. Doug Liman was the executive producer, so I think I got on his radar that way. And then I've been a massive fan of the original for such a long time—my mentor was the original bad guy in it, Ben Gazzara. And then when I heard there was a remake, I was like, "No, please—I'll sell my leg for a meeting."

Then when I met with Doug, I noticed something on his Zoom…it kept moving. I was like, "Doug, are you on a boat?" This man was on a boat in the Caribbean. I was like, "I need to get in on this."

Moe almost feels like a combination of your Broad City role and your Narcos role. You get to be the bad guy, but you also get to be the comic relief.

This role is closest to my personality—just right smack in the middle.

There’s not really an analog to your character in the original. How was he conceived?

He was meant to be one of the guys. From the get-go, Moe seems to realize that he's in a movie, and that he's on the wrong side of it. He's the type of guy who's like, "Stop the world, let me get out." He's stuck between the bad guy and the good guy, and he'd much rather be with Dalton. The way we talked about it is that this guy is so earnest that no matter what you ask him he has to answer truthfully, but he has zero ability to read the room. So that's where his personality came from.

He doesn't want to be the bad guy. He just wants to hang out.

He would've joined a chess club, if it was available in South Florida.

Tell me some more about your relationship with Ben Gazzara.

I had just left Guatemala the year before to study acting in New York and we were practicing all the amazing plays. Among them Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which Ben Gazzara had originated. Then I was in Guatemala on summer vacation. I knew one of the ADs, and she was like, "Listen, there’s this table read, and Ben Gazzara's in it." I jumped at the chance. Everybody was scared of Ben. He was a lovely, no bullshit man. Everybody was a little hesitant when they were doing scenes with him, but I was just so stoked to be a part of it, so elated to be talking to Brick from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, that I just went all out. After the table read, in front of everybody he’s like, "Hey, if you don't cast this dude in your movie, you're a fucking idiot."

I didn't know what to say. I was like, "I'm just happy to be here." And then he took time that entire summer to really show me the ropes of film acting. Which I wound up using, I don't know, 18 years later on this film.

I had an accent when I started, and when I went back to America it was gone. I don't know what happened to it. The next few roles that I had to play required an accent, so I could have saved a lot of time and money not getting rid of it. But yeah, he helped me in many ways.

What an icon.

Such a cool guy. Coming back to New York, it helped me a lot knowing that somebody who I admired had told me that I wasn't wasting my time, which is so important for young artists of any kind to have—somebody that sees something in you that validates the feeling that it's going to be worth your time. That matters a lot to a young actor.

And if it wasn't for Ben, I don't know if I would have had the confidence. If I got a yes or a no at some random open-call audition, it didn't matter because Ben Gazzara thought I was a good actor. That really carried me through some cold months.

What’s the best piece of advice he gave you?

Honestly, some of it was about how to steal a scene. He told me in broad strokes that the scariest person in the scene, he's not the loudest one, it's just the one that doesn't talk much. It's the one that the camera is intrigued by. Even if you're not talking, what's the character thinking? How's he reacted to his environment? That ethereal actor stuff that we get caught in the weeds about, but it was important to me because I didn't start doing lead roles until later in my life.

Do you remember the first time you saw the original Road House?

Oh my God, yeah. I was maybe 10, and it might've been one of the first times I saw nudity on a film, and I was so obsessed. I was like, "Oh my God, this movie's so cool. These guys are fighting, and stuff is blowing up, and there's beautiful people in it." I felt like such a bad boy, 10 years old watching Road House.

Did you rewatch it before filming this one?

Yeah, but just for fun honesty, because by that point I knew that we were going to do something different—more of an homage than an actual retelling. But dude, it still holds up. Sam Elliott's hair alone is worth the watch. Just that flip, and he was so masculine and attractive, and so was Patrick Swayze. They were so cool. And watching Ben Gazzara again was really touching for me.

Jake Gyllenhaal has about 20 abs in the remake. What was your process for getting in Road House fighting shape?

Dude. People ask me if I was physically hurt at any point in the stunts, and I was like, "No, but my ego was." I spent a month and a half, not starving myself, but just eating healthy and working out. I was feeling pretty good about it until we did our first scene with Jake, you see the man's shirt ripping open, "Oh, I didn't know there's 17 abs. I thought there were only six."

After that point you just give up. You're like, "Fuck it, give me a snack, whatever." We definitely all worked out, but it was so impressive watching how responsible, and almost monk-like, the regimen you have to look like Jake for an entire three, four month period. I can't imagine it, dude, I honestly can't. I did a month and a half, and after that I was dreaming of swimming in vats of Nutella.

Oh man. What was your favorite memory from filming?

There was this liquor store that doubled as a bar at night, that they just kind of put tables and a DJ out there. And we didn't have any sort of bar near the little beach where we were shooting, and the whole crew would always go there on Fridays. And one day after a particularly long shoot, we rolled up. Merengue dancing with Doug Liman was one of the top hits of my entire time in the Dominican Republic.

Honestly, you're shooting on this beautiful beach all the time, and so during your lunch break you're just looking out into this calm, turquoise water. It was hard to complain about anything. I mean that very genuinely. Normally on set, you're complaining about random dumb shit, because that's the way to bond with people. This one, everybody just kept saying how lucky we were to be there.

There’s been some controversy about the movie not getting a theatrical release, and reports that Doug Liman even screened it on Jeff Bezos’s boat to try to convince him it shouldn’t go straight to streaming. What are your thoughts on all that?

When I signed up I knew it was an Amazon movie. I understand, having seen it in the theaters, I understand that communal experience, how beautiful it is. However, I'm an immigrant, right? And people in Guatemala didn't even get to watch Broad City. The first they watched me on was Narcos on Netflix. And so, to me, there's an immediacy to everybody being able to watch it at the same time that I do love.

At the same time, Doug is the reason why I'm doing this, and he's a filmmaker in his purest form. So, I understand his argument and I support him for sure. I want to get to as many people as I can, as soon as I can, mostly because I want my mom to watch it. Because up until Narcos, everyone still thought I was in acting school. I was like, "No, I have this show, Broad City, it’s good." They’re like, "So how’s acting school going?" I'm like, "Goddammit.”

I think families and friends will still be able to get together and watch it. Obviously, I would've liked this to be like Barbie, but just with explosions. I want people to go dressed up as me to the movie theaters. But I do love the immediacy.

So you’re in the middle of filming Tron 3 right now. What can you say about your role in that?

Let's see. I want to give you an answer, but also, I can't tell you details, so I don't want to go like, "Oh, I’ll just make a joke about it." What I can tell you is that the sets that they built for this, and just how massive this production is, is something I've never seen in my life.

And Jared Leto's been so cool to me. He was instrumental in getting me the role actually, because he saw the Road House trailer. And Greta Lee, dude, I cannot say enough good things about this lady. Past Lives really moved me, and getting to know her, she's got such cool New York young mom energy. She's such a funny and calming presence that she's really been a guide to me in this process of shooting a massive sci-fi film. And that's about all I think I can say. But every day is one of those like, "Oh wow, this is I'm undeniably lucky to have made it here."

One last Road House question: Who in the cast do you think you’d be most able to take in a fight?

Dude, nobody. Everybody there is jacked. Jake Gyllenhaal's abs would be reflecting light into my eyes. I would be blinded immediately.

Originally Appeared on GQ