Perhaps the most popular and talented Mexican actress in cinema right now is Kate del Castillo. Her versatility to do theater, television and movies, in Spanish or English, has positioned her for a bright future in Hollywood.
Her latest movie is “K-11” from novice director Jules Stewart, Kristen Stewart’s mother. del Castillo plays Mousey, a transgender inmate who is volatile and territorial. I had a chance to converse with Kate for 20 minutes about the broad spectrum of her career, but also deep-dive into questions of where does this K-11 role ranks in her career, her encounter with Twilight’s Kristen Stewart, how Hollywood perceives her, her discomfort with comfort and if that “La Reina del Sur” novela is ever going to be made into a real theatrical movie by Universal Pictures.
ShowBizCafe.com (SBC): Thanks Kate for your time. Why did you want to play this role?
Kate del Castillo (KC): Oh my God, for so many reasons. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. These are the roles that as actors and actresses we kill for, these opportunities [don’t come] often. It’s also amazing that the director, Jules, that she casted a woman. The easy way to go is just to cast a man and that’s it. I am very thankful for her thinking outside the box and giving me the opportunity so that for me is awesome. This is the kind of role that gets attention and that you can really play and have fun.
SBC: How did you happen to get on Jules Stewart’s radar?
KC: You are going to have to ask her because I still don’t know who is the angel that I have to thank. I don’t know, I think she saw a picture of this show I was shooting in Colombia called “The Queen of the South” (La Reina del Sur) and I play a bad ass drug dealer [who] becomes the biggest drug dealer in Spain, so she saw that picture, I don’t know, that is what she is telling me I’m not sure about it. She decided to call me -- she saw my other movies, she saw “Trade” and she saw “Julia,” -- and she asked me to meet with her and I was so nervous because I read the script and I thought: “this is amazing, but I just don’t understand where I fit in this particular script.” When she told me she was blown away and I met with her and we fell in love with each other and that is the way it happened.
SBC: This role seems to be a demanding and mentally tough role to get your arms around. What kind of exploration did you have to go through to “become” a transgender?
KC: It’s really hard to answer that question because actors, I don’t know what happens it’s just a switch that we just move, of course with a lot of research. Not everyone can open up and tell you what they’ve gone through, but I was very lucky to find a couple of transgender people who helped me out a lot. That on one side, on the other side I did research on the web, I read so many books – the time that I had also, we are always going to want more time to prepare as actors – I did whatever I could.
I am a woman who’s been always kind of a tomboy, so for me, it’s funny, but the hardest part was to get in touch with my feminine side! Sometimes transgender persons, guys who are becoming women, they are very feminine, very very feminine, so that was the hardest thing for me.
SBC: About this character, you have said you are looking to grow as an actress. What kind of growth do you eventually want to be able to achieve that will ultimately satisfy you? What is your ultimate goal as an actress?
KC: I don’t think I have a specific goal; I just want to work on interesting projects like “K-11.” I don’t know if it’s going to have a big audience, I don’t know if it’s going to be a breakthrough, but for me it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. That’s what I’m looking for and that’s going to make me grow as an actress, it challenges me. I have to have risks in my career, I don’t want to be in my comfort zone, that’s why I left Mexico and I left my comfort zone which was very comfortable in many ways, much more economically speaking. I left all of those things because I wasn’t happy. I wanted to grow as an actor, and have fun, and play with things, and be challenged and work harder.
SBC: Would you say that this is the best role you have ever had?
KC: Without a doubt, this is the best role I have ever had. Because it is something that I would have never thought of, it opened my mind so much and I grew as an actor, I grew as a woman, I grew intellectually, I learned so much and I am very ashamed to say that I was so ignorant about the whole transgender [world]. I heard about it, but I never really dug into it, it’s huge and it’s so sad sometimes because these people go through so many things and so many changes and so much bullying, so all these things made for me the perfect opportunity to grow in so many ways. I feel very thankful with Jules and the opportunity of playing a transgender and with all the people who helped me out.
I don’t what is going to happen with the movie, I don’t know what is going to look like editing wise because you know, they can change everything, I just did my best and it’s not on my hands then what’s going to happen with the entire movie, maybe nobody is going to watch I, but for me I did my best and that is what I take home.
SBC: How do you think the Spanish community will react to this role because I don’t think they have ever seen you in anything like this, ever.
KC: I think my fan base knows that I love change even physically, I like to do different kind of roles – I played a human trafficker -- I think they are expecting something different and challenging from me. On the other hand, Mexicans, I’m Mexican so I can only talk for Mexicans, we are very catholic and we are very, you know, I don’t even know what my parents are going to say. I think they’re going to be blown away.
But I think it’s probably going to give a lot to talk about and it’s definitely going to be controversial I have no doubt about it. The buzz is already there. I think, they know I’m an actress, they know I’ve been an actress since I was 9 and my father is a huge actor and they know I take this very seriously, it’s my life.
SBC: Did you get to work with Kristen Stewart? I heard she was in the movie and if you did, did you share any scenes with her?
KC: No, she was not in the movie. I think she did some voices only but I definitely met with her and she is amazing, she is a sweetheart, she was really nice with me, but I played many things with her brother Cam. Jules and her whole family are amazing; I wish [Kristen] would have played a role in the movie because she is a great, amazing young actress.
Read Kate's full interview at ShowBizCafe