Unless you’ve been living on Mars for the past seven years (and maybe, even if you have), you know that Monday nights are Castle nights. For most of us, it’s a blissful hour to relax, slip on our pajamas, and watch the best show on television (I don’t consider myself biased on this point, at all). There are so many reasons to love this show: the writing is superb – witty and sarcastic in all the right places, with plenty of one-liners to steal, the plot never plods, and it’s a show that has managed to escape jumping the shark, even after seven very-full seasons. But at its heart, Castle matters because the actors bring the characters to life so convincingly. There’s a reason that fans line up to buy Richard Castle books at Barnes & Noble, why Tumblr explodes each week when episodes lead us into uncharted or unexpected territory. We love this show because we love the people who are a part of it.
It was with that in mind that I sat down to chat with Jon Huertas, one of the fabulous four who make Castle tick. Portraying Detective Esposito on the show, Jon is effortless in his role as the wise-cracking bad-ass detective with a heart of gold. But there’s much more to Jon than his character, and we got to delve into his start in musical theater, his album and upcoming music video, his motorcycle, charity work, and his new restaurant in Venice Beach. A man of many talents, and Jon wears them all with a humility and down-to-earth candor that makes him irresistible, both on screen and off. This is a man who spends his free-time pursuing what he loves with single-minded determination. We were blown away by all that he does, and we’re sure you will be too. And don’t worry, we grilled him about Castle plenty, too!
Get ready to meet your newest celebrity crush, because we guarantee that after you read this you’ll be a Jon Huertas fan for life.
Thank you so much for taking the time to interview with us. We’re really excited about it.
No problem. Thanks for interviewing with me.
It’s going to be great. Now, I have to give myself away and say that I think Castle is the best show on television, so I’m a huge fan.
Oh, thank you so much.
You guys do great work. So, we have a few questions and I’m going to start with Castle just because I love it so much.
Could you tell us what it’s like to work with such a talented group of actors?
Well, it makes work very easy that’s for sure. Not only is everybody talented, but we also have a laugh everyday while we’re working together. And that’s, I think, the best part of the job – just being able to laugh like that. Because laughing is the best therapy, I think.
Yeah. We have so much fun while we’re filming the show that I think that comes across in the final product.
It definitely does. Do you have any favorite stories from set you might share with us?
There’s so many crazy stories. Um, you know what, one thing: I’m a big fan of emotion looking real – joy, pain, suffering, you know. So, one thing, if you ever get a chance to talk to the other actors, I hope they’ll confirm this, but one of the things I like to do – especially when there’s supposed to be some sort of joy or chemistry between the core four, I guess – I’ll kind of mess around. I mess around a little bit, and it’ll kind of make people break, or it’ll give someone a twinkle in their eye. Now, for me, the other actors are always getting on me about it like, “Come on, man, you’re always joking around outside of the camera when the camera’s not on your face.” But their reaction is so amazing, so when you see it in the final product you’re like, “Wow, Man, Stana (Katic) nailed that moment between her and Castle or her and Esposito.” Just knowing their nailing those moments makes me do that. But, you know, it’s funny, they get on me about it, but I think they have so much fun with it that they can’t be angry with me.
See, that’s one story, what other stories could there be? I’ll tell you one story. Here’s a story: So the episode where Ryan and Esposito are trapped in a burning building (Under Fire, Season 6, Episode 11),
Oh, yeah, I remember that episode!
You remember that episode? So, when we were filming that episode and we’re on the stage – we built this basement on the stage – and you know, the basement’s not actually metal and brick and stone. It’s actually wood and foam and they have these things that, they’re like gas tubes, and they have holes in them and that’s what makes things look like they’re on fire. So, we’re going through the scene and my partner’s trapped under this big ol’ beam and I’m trying to get it off of him. I’m trying to drag something across the floor, and I look up and the fire – the fire looks amazing. Wow, they did a great job with this fire. Then I pause, stare at it, and go, “The stage is really on fire, and we’re trapped in here.” So my partner – Seamus Dever – and I were trapped inside this room, which was literally on fire. So I told him, “Uh, that’s real fire, Seamus, that’s a real fire.” I got the thing off of him, and then, luckily, some of the guys realized it too. The special effects guys came over and extinguished everything, but we literally almost burned in that room because it was actually on fire.
Wow. That is amazing. That episode was so intense. I remember being on the edge of my seat the entire time.
Good. We did it right then.
Yeah. Castle is great for that because even when you think they won’t kill off someone like Ryan or Esposito, but it looks so real. Now, do you and Seamus have a very Ryan-Esposito dynamic in real life?
Yeah, well, I think from the beginning of the series, the writers, at first, would come down to the set and hang out and watch Seamus and I interact. Then, they would take that back to the writer’s room and put it into scripts. Our relationship is – our interactions are – very similar to Ryan and Esposito because like them we’re completely different, but we also have a lot in common. It’s funny, because we’re so different but we have so much in common.
Those are the best friendships.
Yeah. I think a lot of our characters are us.
That’s so awesome. I only have two more Castle questions, and then I want to move on to some other things you’re working on that I think are really awesome.
Okay. Do you think that there’s love in Espo’s future, and were you Team Lanie? Were you sad to see that relationship end?
I think Esposito was sad to see that end. HE’s the one that was kind of down for commitment. But right now, I don’t think that there are any plans, at least that I can tell since they kind of keep me in the dark about this. I don’t foresee any plans for, and no one has talked to me about, a potential love interest for him. Whether that be back with Lanie or someone new.
Well, fans all over are probably crushed about that. Now, I know you can’t give anything big away, but do you have hints about the season finale and what’s coming as the season ends?
Oh, definitely not. I don’t even have any clue. I have no idea what’s going on in the season finale. We’re filming right now, and we’re on episode 20. So we’re three episodes away form the season finale. And, you know, these writers, Man, they like to keep us in the dark about everything.
They don’t want people like me coming in and trying to steal the secrets.
That’s probably what it is. They’re not telling us anything. So I have no clue – I don’t even know if they have a clue. I’m sure they’re working on it.
I’m sure it’ll be a rollercoaster of emotion, as always. But, to move on, I didn’t know until recently that you’re also a musician. Your latest single, Video, is incredible. It blew me away.
Wow, thank you.
I hear you’re about to start filming the video, which is something we’re looking forward to seeing over here at Latin é. So, we want to know: How did you get into music? Is that something you’ve always wanted to pursue?
Well, yeah, you know. When I was coming up as an actor and training and going to school I was in musical theater. I love musical theater and performing, and music and acting, to me, have always gone hand in hand. So, there’s always been music there. When I first moved to L.A., I kind of got into music. I think when a lot of people move here, or to New York, they end up auditioning for a lot of very different things. So I auditioned for a vocal group, I auditioned for dance jobs, as an actor, and then I had to pick one. I had to focus. Because you have to throw yourself into something you’re passionate and give 150%. I focused on acting, but music has always been there. I’ve always dabbled and played around with it. And, the great thing about technology, and also Castle, is that they’ve allowed me to invest in that sort of thing and build my own studio.
We were able to record an album in less than three months.
That’s incredibly quick.
Yeah, I just treated it like a nine to five job, like Castle, and I went to work every day and wrote songs. I worked with an amazing songwriter, Kristin Davis, We would write together and record in the same day. You’re able to do take after take after take after take until you get it right. Just like TV and film. That’s how I got the album done, and, you know, I would still call it a very expensive hobby, but I’m able to release albums. We started a company called Midrats, me and my partners – Manzano and Val Valdez – and we’re with Sony Latin. That’s who distributes our music. With technology and those outlets, because the music business has changed so much, I’m able to do music. I’m able to invest in my expensive hobby.
That’s amazing. Now, when is this video going to premiere? We’re excited to get to see it.
I would say the video is going to premiere in mid-April.
We can’t wait to watch it. Now, knowing you love musical theater, I have to ask. What is your favorite musical? I know it’s a hard choice, but can you give us one or two that you just love?
My absolute favorite musical to-date right now is In the Heights. It reminds me of the hood, and the music was amazing, and what it accomplished is just incredible. But then, I’ve also been partial to West Side Story. For a long time that was one of my favorite musicals, as was Camelot. Camelot has actually always been my favorite musical. It’s such a great story, and there are just so many iterations of the story, plus the music is great and I was in a production of it.
Who did you play?
I was Lancelot and I was Sir Dinadan. It’s a great musical.
It is. Now, you are a man of many hats, it would seem. You recently opened a restaurant, Clutch, in Venice Beach. Can you tell us about that? What was your inspiration behind it?
Well, Venice is a very eclectic neighborhood. It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods in this city; I’ve lived here for many years (about twelve years, now). I’ve seen it change, and one of the major changes in Venice was a street called Rose Avenue. It used to be mainly residential, which is kind of boring. So, we’ve got this guy, Oscar Hermosillo, who opened up this really cool wine shop. Then, he expanded that into doing tastings, and then he expanded that to wine and cheese, and then he got a license to serve food and it became Venice Beach Wine, and it was a wine bar. It got so packed and blew up, and you couldn’t even get in. Then, he took over the next door and turned that into a restaurant called Cerveteca. Then, that restaurant just blew up, and then it kind of invigorated the entire street, and all these cool businesses and restaurants and things popped up. It was an amazing change, and I’d been there since the beginning with Oscar, supporting Venice Beach Wines, and talking to him, saying, “Hey, I want to do something with you. Let’s do something together.” This opportunity came up; this restaurant was going to be moving, and the space was opening up. Oscar knew the guy so he brought us all in and said, “Let’s open this restaurant.” And we did.
It’s called Clutch, and it serves Cali-Mex fare, and it’s got great wines, as well, because of Oscar. It’s great food and a great hangout. It’s casual dining. I call it basically a roadside refilling station. It’s on the original US 1 highway, which use to go all the way north through California. So, back in the day, in the 50s when car and motorcycle travel was booming, it was this huge thoroughfare, and we’re right on that road. We have a sign that harkens back to the old highway sign, so it’s kind of that place when you’re going North to South you can stop in and get yourself some food and something to drink. You can chill, park your motorcycle out front, or your car, and it’s got screens for sports and things like that. It’s a really cool little space.
That sounds really cool. If our readers are going out there and checking it out, what’s your favorite thing on the menu? What is a must-order for a first-timer?
I think a must-order is the rotisserie chicken. Also, you’ve gotta order the grilled oysters. They’re delicious.
That sounds great. Earlier, you mentioned motorcycles. You’re a motorcycle lover, is that correct?
You have a bike that you helped design?
Yeah, It’s a very cool bike.
Can you tell us about it? It has a particular name, right?
It’s called The Bully, and it’s actually my old 2001 Buell X1 Lightning that I bought back then, brand new. But I had a couple of incidents – a couple of crashes – some people wanted to crash me and put me down. After the last one, I let it sit in my back yard for years, maybe seven years. It was just rusting away, until I finally said, “Hey, I’m going to fix this up and put it together and sell it.” So I made a drawing and took it down to Deux Ex Machina to have them help me redesign and rebuild it. The guy’s name is Wooly, and at first they said, “We don’t really do that type of thing.” But then I was able to talk to Wooly, and he said, “I haven’t done an American bike in a long time.” Not since he did Ryan Reynold’s bike, which was called The American. So, he was into it. He said, “Let’s do it. Let’s make this bike.” And we did. It took about a year, and it’s one of the most beautiful motorcycles that I’ve ever been on. I get a lot of looks; it’s a cool-looking bike.
It is a beautiful bike. We just interviewed Emilio Rivera from Sons of Anarchy, and we got to talk to him about motorcycles, too. It’s a bit of a trend right now.
Yeah, I think they’re making a comeback.
I’m not much of a daredevil, so I’ll admit that they scare me a bit, but they are beautiful.
You’re a big proponent of charity work, which is something we really care about here. Would you like to talk about that?
I would love to. The charity that I’m working with right now is called the Wildlands Network. Basically, most of my charity work has to do with animals. I even look at people like animals as well. With animals, as with people, I feel that they should have a home. We keep encroaching on their habitat and the Wildlands Network is there to preserve whatever wild lands we still have for the wild animals. I think a lot of people forget how many wild animals we still have here in our country, and how special that is. A lot of people think about Africa and big game, and things like that. They think, “Oh, I want to go Africa and see some lions,” but there are lions right here in North America. We have the mountain lions, the cougar, and we also have jaguars. A lot of people don’t realize. Aren’t you from Texas?
There have been sightings of jaguars in Texas. They come up from Central America.
We have amazingly precious wildlife here in our country, and if people would get out and see it. What I’m doing with Wildlands is trying to create programs where we take inner-city kids out on hikes and into the wilderness to see some of the wildlife we have here. We have huge elk and the badger, which I think is one of the most incredible animals in the world. I want to get kids, the next generation, to see these animals, especially kids who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity, so that they can be exposed to it. With Wildlands Network I think I’m going to have a great opportunity to develop some amazing programs and really make a difference. We want to create land bridges that span highways and such, so that fewer animals are run over by cars each year. So many animals are killed each year, and we just drive past it and don’t care about it. If it were a dead person on the road, it would be different. If everyone put a little more care towards animals then maybe we would live a little more harmoniously with nature.
That’s great. Do you have any other forthcoming projects in 2015 that we should watch out for?
I just did a movie called Reparation, and I think that’s going to be doing its festival rounds. I play the bad guy; I play the villain in that. That’s pretty cool. There are some projects in the works. There’s a movie I want to direct, but I don’t want to say anything yet, because right now I’m raising the money. It’s actually a Texas story, too, but I’m looking to raise finances and do it independently because I want it to be done right. It’s an important story about a person who made an amazing difference in the Mexican-American community in Texas and around the country. Hopefully, we’ll get that done this year.
We’ll definitely be keeping our eyes and ears open for that.
I won’t tell you what it’s about yet, because i want to get closer to having a finished product first.
That’s okay. We’ll save that for the next interview.
Exactly. I want it to get closer to being real.
That’s awesome. For our last big question, just for fun – what is your guilty pleasure show right now?
I think it’s Peaky Blinders, on Netflix. That’s my show right now. I love that show.
Thank you so much for taking this time to talk with us.
It was my pleasure. Thank you.