Umbrella Academy's David Castañeda on Diego's Second Act and Latinidad in Hollywood
When it comes to acting, David Castañeda has his heroes. "Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men: that's a big one. Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Amy Adams in Arrival. There Will Be Blood, Daniel Day-Lewis." Still, one performance stands a cut above the rest as the one that catalyzed his wanting to be an actor, along with 2002's Raising Victor Vargas: "I saw The Matrix. I saw Neo and I was blown away. I was 9 years old."
Castañeda stars in Netflix's The Umbrella Academy, which, after the release of its second season, became the streaming supergiant's No. 1 most-watched show in August. It's entirely possible, then, that at this very moment, a 9-year-old is watching Diego Hargreeves save the world one knife throw at a time with all the awe Castañeda, 30, once had watching Keanu Reeves dodge bullets in slo-mo.
Adapted from the hit comic book series of the same name written by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, Netflix's answer to the eggshell-white Avengers follows an estranged family of superhumans (Ellen Page, Hamilton's Emmy Raver-Lampman, Misfits' Robert Sheehan, and Justin H. Min included) adopted from around the world. Set in Dallas in 1963, this season tackles everything from racism and police brutality to homophobia and pre-Vietnam antiwar sentiment.
Consider that Latinos make up only three percent of protagonists in top-grossing films (and less than five percent of all speaking and named characters), and Castañeda's breakthrough performance as a Mexican-American crimefighter on a top-watched Netflix original series is no less than a triumph for Latinx representation on TV. On a call with POPSUGAR, Castañeda discussed Diego's second act, the endless potential of Latinos in Hollywood, and redefining who gets to be the hero.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.