Press "Enter" to skip to content

Stop Asking Road House’s Arturo Castro to Introduce You to Conor McGregor

Photo: Laura Radford/Prime Video

Starring in the new Road House remake is a full-circle moment for Arturo Castro. Not only was the original an early favorite from his childhood but almost two decades ago, his screen debut came thanks to Road House big bad Ben Gazzara, the decorated actor who faces off with Patrick Swayze in the 1989 action classic. A native of Guatemala, Castro moved to New York City to pursue an acting career, yet it was a trip back home that landed him his first break — and a mentor.

“In 2006, I was in Guatemala on vacation from acting school, and Ben Gazzara was the lead of a movie shooting there, Looking for Palladin,” Castro recalls. “I went to do the table read for the actors that couldn’t come, and after the table read, Gazzarra turns to the director and says, ‘If you don’t cast this kid, you’re a ******* idiot.’ So he gave me my first role, he gave me my mentorship, and he taught me how to act in a film. And he was the main bad guy in Road House, which I was freaking out about!”

Director Doug Liman’s Road House update focuses on Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Dalton, a former UFC fighter brought to the Florida Keys to protect a beachfront bar from a gang of bikers in the employ of a shady local businessman (Billy Magnussen; think a younger, douchier version of Gazzara’s Brad Wesley). This intimidating group of outlaws includes a lot of tough guys who look straight out of Sons of Anarchy (and not just because they’re led by Mayans M.C. star JD Pardo). And then there’s Moe: It’s immediately clear that Castro’s character is unprepared for this line of work, as he reluctantly becomes Dalton’s final victim in a beatdown of his crew. Still, being the good-mannered criminal he is, Moe makes sure to thank Dalton for driving him 25 minutes to the hospital for his now-broken arm.

No stranger to stealing scenes — beginning with his memorable run on Broad City — Castro has bounced between comedy and action with supporting roles in The Menu, Narcos, Silicon Valley, and The Terminal List. In Road House, his kindhearted and extremely overwhelmed Moe is the most reliable source of laughs, whether he’s hilariously getting his *** kicked or just expressing his true love. “Turns out, these guys, not as nice as I thought they were initially,” Moe confesses at one point. “I just like to ride motorcycles, but it’s really hard to do in South Florida without a group.”

While Dalton is determined to clean house in the Keys, even he can’t help but have an affinity for Moe. Just ahead of the big showdown between Dalton and the psychotic Knox (Conor McGregor), Dalton comes across Moe smartly deciding to skip town and lets him go on his way — and of course, Moe wishes Dalton luck with the dead body he’s moving. By film’s end, Dalton is also on the run, so could they unknowingly be headed to the same destination? Don’t worry, Castro already has the sequel mapped out.

I have to start in the most obvious place: Arturo Castro, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Conor McGregor walk into a roadhouse; what happens next?
Well, at some point I’m definitely going to start salsa dancing to break the tension. I’ll just pick up a guitar and start strumming “On the Road Again.” Dude, it is such a pleasure to share the screen with these guys. We come from such different places, and to be able to see a collage of people and personalities and energies come together to make this raw, funny, action-packed movie, it was a joy.

Before we get into your Road House, let’s talk about the original, which I believe you’ve named as one of your favorite movies of all time. When did you first lay your eyes on the magic that is Patrick Swayze in Road House, and what was it you fell so in love with?
I mean, Sam Elliott’s hair alone is worth watching that movie for. That dude is so smooth and just carries masculinity and sensuality like others carry a bottle of water. I remember thinking Patrick Swayze was an idol, and we all wanted to be like him. It was also probably the first movie where I saw ******. I was like 8 years old, being like, What is this? So I remember it very fondly and very vividly.

I will say, Sam Elliott pulling that hair tie out and putting his hair up — c’mon, that’s cinema right there.
I can watch that on a loop — and that was my prep before every scene on Road House.

In announcing your involvement with Road House, you declared you were going to grow a “badass mustache/beard/mullet.” If you’re being honest with yourself, do you feel you lived up to that promise?
Doug Liman took one look at my mustache and went, “I think we’re going to go clean-shaven,” and I was like, “No!” Yeah, they had a very different idea for it because that mustache was not as full as I’d like. I am shooting Tron: Ares at the moment with Greta Lee, and I can’t say enough good things about her, but I showed her footage from Road House and she’s like, “You look great! So did you have to shave your body for it?” And I was like, “What do you mean? I’m just naturally hairless!” I had a little goatee, but I wanted a full handlebar.

Knowing your history with Road House, am I right to assume no questions needed to be asked when you got the call for the remake?
I got on Doug Liman’s radar because they asked me to come to Montreal to do an episode for The Recruit, a Netflix show he executive-produces, and I played this badass, scary dude. When the chance came to audition for Road House, I remember when we had the meeting over Zoom, I kept looking behind him and it was swaying, and I’m like, “Doug, are you on a boat?” And he’s like, “Oh yeah, I’m in the ocean right now.” So I was like, “Listen, my guy, you had me freezing my *** off in Montreal; now you got to take me to the nice warm weather of the Dominican Republic.”

I didn’t want to hope for it too bad in case it didn’t happen for me, but my ***, when I got the call that it was mine, I couldn’t be happier. I’m going to try to describe it as it really is for me, but I don’t want you to think this is an actor just trying to use flourishes of language. It feels like the feeling in your chest is too big for it, like it’s expanding, and you’re just like, What are the odds that this is my movie? And it’s just a gratitude thing that’s hard to describe.

Speaking of your chest, I’m guessing you didn’t have to go to Jake levels of physical preparation, but I will say it looked like you bulked up a bit. Did you have the mind-set that, even though I’m the comic-relief guy, if I’m going to be in a Road House movie exclusively wearing tank tops, I want to look tough?
A hundred percent. I worked out and went on a diet to get in shape, and I didn’t get bruised physically, but my ego was definitely bruised. As soon as you get there, you’re feeling like you’re in shape and then Jake Gyllenhaal takes his shirt off and you’re like, Oh, right, that’s what in shape looks like. But yeah, I was like, I can’t just be the funny guy that didn’t try, so it was cool transforming my body a little bit for work. I put my unhealthy relationship with sugar on pause, and I’m glad it reads!

Moe’s fighting career is short-lived, and he knows he’s toast before even stepping up to Dalton. Did you equally appreciate that you got the chance to fight in a Road House movie and had it do it only once?
Man, it was so interesting to watch them go at it and how they created this. It feels like a violent dance. I had never been in a movie where the fight choreography was so elaborate. Once the camera’s going, it feels like theater, where you can’t stop, so there is a level of excitement and nerves the first time you run through it. But thankfully my character gets his *** kicked pretty quickly and then I don’t have to touch fighting again, because it looked really cool but also exhausting. I’m glad to just be chilling with my arm in a sling for the rest of the movie.

What was it like having a front-row seat for Jake and Conor’s brutal, epic face-off?
It was incredible. Conor is such a gifted fighter, and Jake put in so much work. It looks so impressive and violent yet so clean and precise. There’s a precision to it that it’s almost like you’re watching the end of the World Cup final and it’s something you’re not doing yourself but you feel so caught up in the emotion of it. Watching it at the premiere, I was so glad it translated with that visceral reality they created on set.

I recently spotted Conor showing you a little love on Instagram, calling you one of “the lads.”
The amount of people that are in my DMs begging me to introduce them to Conor McGregor since he followed me and shared my post, I’m like, “What do you think I’m going to do now?” They’re like, “Please, you’ll be my family forever!” Like, I’m not going to make an introduction — unless it’s for a fee!

I’ve heard him mention that he has his own roadhouse in Ireland, and I’d admittedly be too intimidated to step into it.
Oh, I’m so curious. I’m stoked to go. The food looks delicious. And I want to see Conor in Ireland because I’m sure it’s like Superman and the sun; it just makes him more powerful.

Between the roadhouse in the first film and the roadhouse here, there’s no question that yours is the better hang. Did you soak up every minute spent at that beautiful location?
It was crazy because anytime you were between setups, you’re like, What am I going to do? Oh, I’m just going to stare poetically at the beautiful ocean while the sun is setting! So our cast hangout was chairs by the water, and you’re having a moment of pinching yourself. I try to acknowledge moments that mean something to me as they’re passing by because we get so caught up in the rat race of it all; sometimes you’re like, I wish I would’ve taken in the moment a little more. As this movie was happening, I’m proud to say I was able to recognize that this was a special, unique circumstance and I was lucky to be a part of it. So I sat there many a time with JD Pardo and Catfish Jean and Lukas Gage and all these guys, and we’d just watch the sunset and shoot the **** and bond over what an amazing experience we were having.

Spending a couple of months in the Dominican Republic while you make a Road House movie truly does sound like the definition of an amazing experience.
People are like, “So what was the hardest part?” I’m like, “I don’t know, picking the sunscreen?” And I don’t mean to downplay how much work gets put into it and how hard it is to get something like that and to build up to it, because it would be disingenuous to say that. But once we were in it and learned how Doug communicates and what he wants, after that it’s just joyous. It’s hard work and still a little nerve-racking and you want it to play, but there’s a relaxation that happens with it, and I think that is where most good work comes from, as opposed to a place of tension. Even though — don’t get me wrong — I had my fair share of moments where I’m like, Oh my ***, oh my ***, okay, my line!

Especially when your line is always a punch line — no pun intended. There’s probably a challenge to that. Like there’s all this action going on around you and then you have to be ready to jump in and hopefully nail a quick swerve into comedy.
And you need to be with actors that don’t mind it and aren’t just like, “Hey, dude, enough with the improv. Can I just get my line out?” Because it would be fair to say let’s just get on with the story. But I was very lucky in this movie that Jake and JD were so game for me to just call out random stuff. Even my first line, when Dalton asks if it’s our bikes outside, I thought it’d be really funny to establish early on that if you ask this guy a question, he has to answer it. And so I’d be like, “Oh yeah, mine’s the red one on the right.” It just says something immediately about the character, and I was so glad they let me get that in.

Jake is my favorite type of actor because he can seamlessly and happily go from starring in Oscar fare to being the lead of Road House. Did you guys come about your amusing and charming onscreen dynamic pretty naturally?
It was really cool watching him take that leadership role and seeing how committed he is to his work and how responsible he is with his body and the repetition of it and getting things just right. I think laughter is a really good way to bond with people, and from the get-go, I was very lucky that he found what I was doing funny. Even in the middle of a take where it’s just about him kicking ***, he would always open the floor for me to throw something in. Particularly in that first fight, before I throw a punch at him and he’s like, “You don’t have to do this,” and I’m like, “Yeah, I kind of sort of do,” he was just so stoked to try things out. Because we established that comedic relationship, I think he was very generous in letting me have the floor — which he didn’t have to do. If it wasn’t for his support, I wouldn’t have been comfortable enough to throw so much in there, and I’ll always be grateful for that.

Where do we think Moe is running off to when we last see him? As I left the theater, I couldn’t stop envisioning Dalton becoming the Jack Reacher of bouncers, just going town to town, roadhouse to roadhouse, and kicking some ***. And I know the perfect familiar face for him to coincidentally run into!
I think he opens a bakery. He totally goes for something with his hands that doesn’t require being around aggro people all the time. If there’s a sequel, I want him to have built a new life; he has an Etsy shop, he’s just happy — and then suddenly Dalton comes into town and he’s like, “No! Dude, please, I’m just baking, man. I just want people to have delicious chocolate-chip cookies. Is that too much to ask?” It’d be really funny if they ran into each other again.

You mentioned Tron: Ares, and I’m sure you’re not allowed to share much, but a friend and I were just talking about what a fun and interesting ensemble was put together with you, Greta, Jared Leto, Jodie Turner-Smith, Evan Peters, and Gillian Anderson.
I am such a fricking fan of all of them. Like, Gillian Anderson, are you crazy?! Greta, Past Lives meant so much to me as somebody who left Guatemala when I was 19 to come study acting and that feeling that you leave people behind. She has exceeded expectations as a human being and an actress. And in the same way that Jake has in this movie, Jared has been very generous and kind to me and let me be myself in a way, and he was actually instrumental in getting me the role. I obviously can’t tell you much, but what I can tell you is that people are supposed to have this indifference when they come onto a new set, like, Yeah, I’ve done a million of these. It’s impossible to do that on something like Tron. You go watch what they built and how they made this world come to life and you can’t help but show your giddiness. These sets are pretty incredible. And it’s okay to be excited about exciting stuff. I did it with Road House, too. What you’re seeing is an actor very grateful that he gets to do any job, let alone the job I love to do with people I admire. So I’m really lucky for this moment I’m living in.

Considering you’ve had supporting roles in a new Road House and a new Tron, I feel like it’s time to build an ’80s remake around you. So what do you have your eye on? Maybe Cobra? You could be Tango or Cash!
I also had a role in the White Men Can’t Jump remake last year! If there’s the two letters re, I’m there. It’s like mentioning corrupt Boston cops to Mark Wahlberg — he’s already out the door. I’m like, “It was done before? Let’s go!” Maybe I should remake Lou Diamond Phillips’s La Bamba. Or honestly, it’d be cool to do Scarface with someone who is actually Latino — no disrespect to Al Pacino. Scarface lives in that world where we hold it in such esteem, but I think it could be remade because it was all so big and went for it and jumped the shark in a cool way.

Well, you’re in luck because they’ve literally been trying and failing to remake Scarface for decades, so the #ArturoforScarface campaign starts now.
Me and Doug Liman, let’s do it. But every time he dies, he comes back to life. So we do an Edge of Scarface!

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply