Ruben Santiago-Hudson is know for his role of Captain Roy Montgomery in ABC hit show “Castle”, which is finished up its third season. Ruben is also a stage veteran and has performed in numerous shows including many of August Wilson’s plays. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ruben about not only his love for working on “Castle” but also his love for the stage.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell about us how you got involved starring in “Castle” as NYPD Captain Roy Montgomery?
Ruben Santiago-Hudson: After the writers strike, and being a writer things got tight. So, I decided to go out for some auditions, normally I do not audition for a lot of things that are not in New York. I am straight New Yorker and I love being here. At that point, I said I would be willing to do to California and relocate for a little while trying to get myself back on my feet. “Castle” was one of my auditions and actually as it turns out like three different shows were trying to book me also at same time. “Castle” fought for me very hard. They were in first position anyway, so they has the first shot. They made me an offer that showed me that they really wanted me there. Once I met Nathan (Fillion) though, it was over. I knew I had to be there.
MG: What is it like working with such a great cast on the show?
RSH: We have a real tight group and a real strong family. It extends even into our crew. It is not like the actors are one part and the crew is another. We are all in it together. It is a joy to come to work most days and have a good time. We are like any other family, we have our agreements and disagreements, but at the end of the day it is always cold beer time. We have enough energy to give each other person time and hang out. It is just such a great cast and crew and it is a real honor to be a part of it.
MG: Any cool behind the scenes stories?
RSH: Mike, that is everyday man! Everyday we end up pulling some some sort of high jinx and are having fun. They usually steer clear of me a lot of the times but then I will hit’em with a zinger. It is just too many stories to tell. I remember one time in an episode I put my badge out and said “What does it say on my badge? It says Captain and that means get your ass out there and solve the case”. What I did was I put a piece of gaffers tape and wrote “Superstar”. So I picked it up and said what does it say on my badge and Jon (Huertas) and Seamus (Dever) look at it and said “Superstar?” and I said “that is right, so get your ass out there…” [laughs]. That is one I really enjoyed. One day for an episode, I was telling Jon and Seamus that they were off a case or something. They went in and pulled their guns off and threw them on my desk, so I pulled my gun out and my badge and threw it on the desk too and we all walked out [laughs]. The crew was wondering what we were doing. We definitely have a lot of fun.
MG: What can you tell us about the upcoming episodes in season three?
RSH: I don’t want to give away anything. We just had a wonderful episode about a beauty pageant. Then we have the cliffhanger in the end, which our producers are going to decide which one of us or how many of us they are going to taken out of the show. I hope whatever they do it is for the best in the show. I believe it is important to keep this family together because it really it a special group. Taking anything out of that group, even to give the fans one great episode will damage the entire season. So I am hoping and praying we all stay together but knowing the powers that be, they might do something they shouldn’t do.
MG: We interviewed Denzel Washington during his work on August Wilson’s “Fences” on Broadway, what was it like working with him on “American Gangster”?
RSH: It is funny you asked that question about August Wilson because I won my Tony Award from his play. August Wilson wrote four plays for me. Denzel and I often discussed August. I really loved working with Denzel he is a confident professional. He is very decided to his craft. He always comes in extremely prepared and he is very intellectualized. He is always researched and ready to role. When you come to the table with Denzel, you know you are going to have a good time because he is coming to play. He is going to be ready and if you are not ready your day is not going to be so good. When you come ready with Denzel it will be a joyful day. Any opportunity I get to work with Denzel is a blessed day for me. Denzel and I go way back, we’ve been friends since 1983.
MG: You made your stage directorial debut with August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean”, how did you find tacking such powerful play?
RSH: I didn’t really look at it as a daunting task because he is my favorite writer, a mentor, a brother and a friend…August Wilson. It was a play I had just completed doing on Broadway and I had different notions of how it should be done. I wanted to exercise my ideas on it. When I explained it to August, he was like “Please hurry up, when do you want to do it?” I responded to him “Whenever I get on the directors list” and he said “You are at the top of the list”. Within three months I was directing the place in Princeton, NJ at the McCarter Theater, which is an award winning theater. It was just such an amazing epiphany just to be in that work and let that work deliver me to another level as an artist, an actor and a human being.
MG: How do you prefer doing stage over film or TV?
RSH: Absolutely, I prefer being on stage. I want to be on stage every day of my life if I could. It is a certain trust that a writer and director have to let you to be the editor of that work. You are getting me deep now, we have to usually go to Columbia University to have this discussion [laughs]. They editor of that evening’s performance is you. It is not some guy you don’t know in a room taking your performance on film or digital and cutting and editing it around to make it a good performance. The editor is you. I absolutely cherish that trust because I know that is the way I prepared my whole life. I prepared not to go out and do my work with ego but with sincerity, trust and truth. So when you go out there and your trust your work with me as a writer, what you wrote is what you are going to get.
MG: Do you plan on returning to stage anytime soon?
RSH: Right now they are calling for me in a big way to direct. A big way. I am in negotiations to direct an August Wilson play, “Jitney” and hopefully get it to Broadway. Right now there are no plans. Just to be able to put it up and have people feel the magic of “Jitney” again. I am hoping it will create the buzz and get the producers talking about getting it to Broadway. In fact, it is the only August Wilson play that has hasn’t been to Broadway. I would love to get my energy behind it, a stellar cast and try and get it to Broadway. I am going to do it at the Two Rivers Theater in Red Bank, NJ, which is a beautiful new facility. Also I am going to direct a play from Fugard, they are celebrating his work in New York next season at The Signature. I am going to come in and direct one of Fugard’s play with him actually in house. In the meantime, I am also writing a pilot as we speak. I will be pitching it for the fall season. So just trying to keep busy and trying to share what talents I have with the world.