It all started with a tweet. One of the stars of the hit American show Castle saw a tweet by one of our editors, and noticed that she worked for BollySpice. He replied to her, exclaiming “I wanna do a Bollywood movie! Can you hook it up?” That star is Jon Huertas, who helps solve homicides as Detective Javier Esposito on Castle. He’s a seasoned Hollywood actor, but it seems that he also has dreams of doing a song and dance in Bollywood. He’s seen the movies, he’s heard the songs. All that’s left is a role in a film. Of course, we love bringing unique stories to our readers and we thought what could be more perfect then to follow the actor on his road to Bollywood! Check out our exclusive interview, with Jon talking about his role on Castle, and most importantly, his Bollywood dreams and what he thinks would be the perfect film for him!
Tell us a bit about how you got into acting.
I started when I was a kid, like in second grade. I was going to a Catholic school and I used to get into trouble a lot. One day I got yanked by my arm out of the hallway by one of the nuns. Now this nun was known as the meanest, nastiest nun we had. She used to call me Buster Brown; that was her name for troublemaker, I guess. She yanked me down the hall and I thought I was in trouble. I didn’t know what I had done. She took me into the auditorium, they gave me this script and they say you are playing this kid, you are going to sing this solo. The whole time I am rehearsing I just thought I was in trouble. I had never done anything like this before and to me it was like punishment. Then comes the night of the performance and I sang my solo and when I finished I looked over to the wing and this nun, this mean lady…she was crying. At that moment I was like, if I can do that to her by doing this, then I am going to have to do this for the rest of my life. From then on every play I could be in, any type of performance that I could do, dance, singing, whatever, I did it. When I went to college I got kicked out. I didn’t know what I was going to do, so I joined the military to help pay for college. I spent eight years in the military. A couple of conflicts later, and finally getting the college degree, I moved up to LA and just started doing it.
What was the first big break that you had?
You know, I don’t know if I had any big breaks. I guess just getting any acting job at all is a break. My first job was actually a movie of the week, and it is funny because one of the executive producers of our show now, his name is Rob Bowman, his father was my first director when I went out to LA. So, the guy who I work with on a daily basis now, on one of the best shows I have ever been on, his father kind of gave me my career. I always thank him. First, it was that movie of the week, and then I was sort of fumbling around doing a recurring role on Jag and guest starring on 90210. My first big movie was that year, in 1995. For me, it wasn’t really a big break, it was more like you just climb up the mountain, just taking it kind of slowly.
You also did the 8-part television mini-series Generation Kill about the 2003 invasion of Iraq. What was it like shooting that show?
It was an amazing experience; it was almost like being deployed in the military because we went over there and we went to boot camp. We spent 14 hours a day, working 6 days a week in all of our gear and you know, we drove around in these Humvees and that was it, we drove them to and from work. It was a great experience because you get to tell a true story about these special guys who basically did what I did. It felt really good to tell that story truthfully. The beauty of working with David Simon is that he always wants to tell the truth and let the real story live and breathe, not sensationalize things or try to sway people’s opinions – let them make their own opinion. That is really what we wanted to do; we didn’t want to say the war is right or the war is wrong. We just said, this is based on a book by a reporter who was there – this is everything he saw. Decide what you want and enjoy seeing what these guys went through.
Tell us about Castle and Detective Esposito.
I had just returned from Africa shooting Generation Kill, and I started taking meetings. I had been on other shows before, I had been on sitcoms and I was kind of looking for a drama. I had already done the pilot for Castle and when we got picked up, there was no doubt in my mind that it was the best show I could be on. It mixes comedy and drama, so it was actually perfect. I feel like there is more realism on Castle then there is on the other procedural cop shows. We ride along with cops; we spend time with real homicide detectives. What I saw with these detectives is that they joke and jab at each other and laugh until about two steps before they get to a body. If everything was so dismal, so serious, and so dark all the time they would drive themselves crazy because of everything they have to see and everything they have to experience. With them having to deal with that on a daily basis, if they didn’t laugh about what they are doing, if they didn’t laugh about themselves, they would go crazy and I think not be very nice people. So, that is what I try to do when I come on the show and what Andrew Marlowe, the creator, kind of intended, was to capture that side of police work. The side that shows how the cops deal with life and how they deal with having to deal with this dark underbelly of society.
What do you think makes the show Castle so special?
I truly believe it is a team effort. The show wouldn’t be what it is without the cast and our chemistry, not only between us as actors and our characters, but within the crew, the writers and the producers. The chemistry is palpable when you are there. We have a no asshole policy. Everybody is really, really super nice; they are all super cool, and they are all people you would want to have over to dinner. I think what makes our show a success is that everybody is just really happy to come to work and is really happy while working. Also, we have writers that are very collaborative; they allow us to help them develop characters. They deliver a script, the Network studio guys get their hands on it and it goes through changes – changes the original writer would never have forseen. Then basically on set we are able to maybe get some of that stuff the writer had originally had back in there. We come up with our ideas and we are allowed to use that and that does not happen on all shows. I think that is another thing that allows Castle to be entertaining; it is very collaborative.
I think one of the coolest things is that it is all so natural. You don’t feel like you are playing roles, you are hanging out being these people.
One thing I can tell you is the way Jon speaks to Nathan, and Nathan speaks to Stana and Stana speaks to Seamus and vice versa and the way we all interact is exactly the same way our characters interact. The writers around the sets a lot and they hear when we are hanging and talking to each other. So, they basically kind of take that, stick some police jargon into it and put in on paper. (Laughs) They listen to us and take from the chemistry we have as cast-mates and they just kind of infuse it into these really cool stories.
We hear you’re also a singer and you produce your own music videos.
Yes, I just started my own music label with my partner and we have two artists, well, three artists signed if you include me. We have about three producers that we are working with. I literally just started this company two months ago. We are building a state of the art recording studio. I am going to release my first single virally to kind of just peak people’ s interest, probably end of November beginning of December, I think. We will see, then try and produce my album early next year. It is kind of pop, a little RnB, a little blues, a little rock, even with a little musical theater in there. It is music you can dance to. It is kind a mix of everything I have been influenced with; it’ s pretty cool. I am excited about it.
What is your favorite thing about being an actor?
My favorite thing about being an actor is being able to play all day. It is amazing that I get paid to do this, because I think I would probably pay to do it. Being an actor, you are pretending to be someone else and you are entertaining people. I almost don’t look at it as a job – I have picked a life, I haven’t picked a job. A job is something that takes a toll on you, this doesn’t. Yes, we work late hours and this and that, but the awards are amazing. We get great feedback from fans, we get to work with great people, and we get paid. So, I think my favorite thing is just the fact that I get to play and pretend to knock somebody out or shoot somebody, to interrogate somebody, just pretend…it is amazing… it is just fun !
What sparked your interest in Bollywood?
I have been very curious about Bollywood for many, many years. I have watched Bollywood movies whenever I can. I don’t think I am super knowledgeable about the genre, I just know that when I watch Bollywood I feel good! I love it! It kind of reminds me of old Hollywood musicals. That is the reason I wanted to be in Hollywood. I fantasized about old time Hollywood, the glamorous musicals. Much to my surprise they weren’t here when I got here… but what is still here is Bollywood movies. They have these giant dance numbers. I grew up doing musical theater, I love doing musicals, and I feel like this is one of the only outlets to do musicals on film. I just love catching a Bollywood movie, it doesn’t even matter if I catch it from the beginning or not. If I catch halfway through or I catch the last half I am super happy. And you know with a Bollywood movie an actor or performer has to be well rounded, he has to be able to dance, I know they dub those but if he can sing and then, of course act… you really have to be a triple threat and I like that and really respect it. So, yeah I have always said, ‘ Man, I would love to do a Bollywood movie’ . I also really like the music.
What type of role do you see yourself in?
You know, I don’t know. I would like to be the guy that gets the girl! I want to be the hero! I don’t want to play the villain. I want to be the hero. It would be kind of cool to play an outsider. Me, being American it makes sense. I would love to be part of project that takes place in India and me being an outsider who had kind of gotten into this world and has to kind of win everybody over. I think that is a great story. You could have conflict because you have this outsider who comes in and disrupts what they have going on in their lives, slowly he proves himself, proves his love to the girl, the family, the town, the society accepts him and who he is and then we sing and dance about it.
I’d see it…get me a ticket now!
Yeah! It would be kind of cool if it was an action piece, too. You remember that movie First Blood (Sylvester Stallone, 1989)? If you took First Blood, made a Bollywood movie out of it and added in a love story, that is the movie I would want to do.
So, you could go over to India to shoot the film…
I would definitely go over for a couple of months between Castle. We are usually off two to three months. So, yeah I would love to go over there to do a movie. Besides I would love to go to India; I have never been to India.
It seems that Jon’s Bollywood debut may happen sooner than we think, because we hear a young director has the perfect role for him! The script is still in development and he is looking for a producer but the wheels are in motion! Jon has promised us exclusives on his journey to Bollywood, so you can be sure we will have even more on this cool story. Perhaps until his Bollywood film goes to the floor may we suggest a Bollywood themed Castle!