A.J. Castro Talks On Being A Cool Kid + Life

ATM: Without reading the script did you think this was a comedy about actual kids?

AJC: Yes. When I first got the audition, I thought it was based on the name without knowing anything about it. I thought it was more of a kid’s show. Because I had done a lot of work on kids shows prior to this. I thought they were bringing me in based on the previous work I’ve done. After I researched it a little bit, I realized I was way off.

ATM: When you one day get to the ages of the people on the show, what do you hope to say about your acting career?

AJC: When I am at a point where I am considered “elderly” or a “senior” which is such a vague term. Suddenly when you get 60 you are considered a senior. This is what my episode is about. One day you’re not a senior and then the next day you are a senior. Absolutely nothing changes. When I get to this age and could look back and say, “You know what my body of work has meaning to somebody.” This would be a success for me. Looking back just in terms of goals, I want to be one of the first Hispanics if not first Costa Rican actor to win an Oscar. Hopefully, I will have my Emmy and Oscar sitting next to me.

ATM: Why do you feel senior hood receives a bad reputation? Most people think the fun stops once you reach this age. This is a general statement most people think senior hood does not encompass having fun. Why do you think is?

AJC: I think it is perception. There are things just from a perception point of view. You look at a 20-year-old who is out at the club dancing and having a good time. And “enjoying life” and “living life to the fullest.” When you parallel this to the average life (I am not saying, everybody) that an older person who goes out to dinner, goes to catch a movie and go home. We forget that they have lived the going out and dancing. They have lived through this. This might be living life to fullest for them.

It is the perception of what we in the current age perceive what living life to fullest or what having fun is for someone who is 20, 30, 40, 60, 80, or 100. This definition of living life to fullest changes. For me only, in the past 10 years, this definition has changed. Now, having fun to me is having a board game night with my closest friends. I can go out to hang with the best of them. Or I can just hang out with my wife and share stories. This is having fun and living life to the fullest.

ATM: What do you have to say about someone who is young but feel they have a personality of someone in their 60s?

AJC: Someone who says, “Hey, I am 20, with a 60-year-old soul.” Something like this?

ATM: Right, some people say they have an old soul. On this show, you have older people doing the opposite, which is living a lifestyle of someone in their 20s. What do you have to say about this flip flop?

AJC: I say you are as old as you feel. If inside you feel that you are 18 going on 80, then this is fine. Leslie Jordan says it best in episode 2. They are talking about everyone’s age. There is a funny line where he goes, “I started counting my age when I first came out in 2000.” Then he goes I am 18 years old. This is barely legal. This is exactly what we are as humans. You might be 20, 30, 40, but it does not matter. How old do you feel? Are you out there doing stuff that a 20-year-old is doing or are you at home doing stuff that a 50-year-old is doing? It does not matter because both things are fun and great. This is the message that I got from being apart of this show. It does not matter how old you are. You live your best life, live your life with love, and the rest is just a number.

ATM: What if our society did not go by ages?

AJC: Oh, this is tough. This is philosophical. I like this one.

ATM: Adding on to this, what if we just went based on our intellects and not by ages?

AJC: This is interesting. It goes back to a philosophical conversation about what is time. Time, sun up and sun down. We dictate that this is a day. 365 days a year and all of a sudden you are 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Just look at dog years vs human years, 7 vs 1. If you create a society where you say, Hey, it does not matter if you are 6 or 30. If your mental capacity and mental intellect dictate that you can do brain surgery, then so be it.

This is a very interesting concept until you add the element of experience. One thing that age brings into the picture is the experience. When you live through certain things, you know how to react or adapt to certain things. This goes back to a 6-year-old vs a 30-year-old, equally as smart and able to understand concepts of performing brain surgery. When you have a 30-year-old who has done it for years and a 6-year-old who has not done it for that long, but they both understand it intellectually, you give it to the 30-year-old who has the experience and intellects.

One of the things we need to talk about in this utopian society of not going by age but going by intellect is the experience. Age brings a lot of wisdom and experience. If I could back when I was 21 and look at what I know today, then my life choices would be completely different. The aspect that we have to take into account is experience and wisdom and all that you gain.

ATM: The most interesting thing about life and about aging is that when we are at a particular age we only have enough wisdom for that moment in our life. When 10 years past you think about and realize where you messed up.

You wish you could have done it differently. You only have wisdom for a particular chapter of your life. You are not stupid you just do not the wisdom or the mental ability to go through that situation yet. Another interesting thing in life is that you cannot go back. It is a forward society. You can only go backward in your mind, not in reality.  

AJC: You can only learn. When you are young you do not know that it is a right or wrong because you have never experienced it. You have never been through it, so you do not know the outcome of it. This is exactly it. I think the quote goes [Youth is wasted on the young]. This means that when you are young you have all the time in the world but it is wasted because you do not know what to do with it yet. Until you get older and you understand how life works and how those different scenarios would be different.

ATM: Also, about how much perception changes. Meaning how you might mentally view a book at the age of 7 is not going to be a same as when you reread that book at age 14 or 20. The situations you go through life subconsciously change your perception with time. I find this very interesting.

AJC: Everything in life you look at differently. You can talk about books, movies, entertainment, and T.V shows. Also, the concept of money. Think about when you were ten years old and I gave you 20 dollars. You would be like oh my gosh, I got 20 dollars. If you are 30 and I gave you 20 dollars, then oh okay great its 20 dollars. It does not mean the same as if you are 30 and I give you a 1,000 dollars. When you are 50 and I give 10,000 dollars. So time instructs how we perceive things and our value of things.

ATM: I have seen adults give small children money and they feel like the luckiest person in the world.

AJC: They lose their minds.

ATM: They are like, oh my gosh. The older people watching are sitting there know that they cannot really do much with that money. And they look back in 10 years and say, They only gave me 10 dollars.

AJC: Yeah, you only gave me 5 dollars.

ATM: Right. It is just interesting because up until their young age that is all they know. Life will not let their mind exceed this. Their world is so innocent.

AJC: Right. This is why it goes back to the youth is wasted on the young.

I am not sure how old you are. Imagine if you could go back to when you were 21.

This is when people are at their prime and adulthood. All of the sudden you have all the wisdom that a 65-year-old has, but you have that 21-year-old body. Your perceptions and choices would be a lot different. This goes back to your original questions about what if we did not go based on age, we went based on mental intellect. I still feel you would fall into a similar social and economic societal structure of the people who are “older” who would get that recognition and the ability to do all the things the younger people could get regardless of mental intellect. Just because you plug into effect experience, knowledge and life.

ATM: What if we lived in a time period like the movie Benjamin Button? What if we aged old first (whether in appearance or mentally) and then slowly through life, we became youthful? So, would youth still be wasted?

AJC: No. It would be a very scary thing. At least for me. Imagine you are born into this world and whether it is looks or mental capacity you have an understanding of something. You have the ability to do something because of your physical nature or mental nature. As the years go by you start to lose this. You start losing the capacity to knowing how to do something and identify things. This would become a very sad existence. Let’s say you are aware of it, it becomes a very sad existence because the way the humanity is structured today is that we always stand to get better and to gain. Every human being strives to get better. I do not care if it is a homeless person, middle America, or the Prince of Egypt. Everyone of us has a gain and an instinct to get better and achieve something. As little as having to achieve my next meal. If you take a way intellect every year and this ability every year, I think people do not have anything to look forward to striving for. At this point, it would be a very flat life because you are losing as supposed to gaining.

Another analogy. There was someone who used this.

Everyone has two elevators. One starts on the top floor and the other one starts on the top floor. The one that starts at the top floor is your physical ability. The one that starts on the bottom floor is your mental capacity and intellect. Throughout your life, the elevator that starts on the bottom floor is going up every floor. The one that is the physical ability on the top floor is going down every year and throughout your life. You are at your peak when those elevators meet at the same time on the same floor. If you were to take these elevators and flip them and say you start off with the biggest understanding but not the physicality of it. You will always have a sweet spot. There is a downside to losing this knowledge as you age in terms of gaining it as you age.