‘Castle’: Gilles Marini on Playing ‘the Johnny Depp of Magic’

Posted: January 10, 2011 in castle, interviews

ABC’s Castle has explored everything from bar culture to steampunk, but the show’s next case will take viewers into a world where everything is not as it seems. In tonight’s episode, Beckett and Castle’s murder investigation leads them to Tobias Strange, a very eccentric, very famous magician played by Gilles Marini (Brothers & Sisters). He’s not only got a way with his hands — slight of hand is key in being a magician — but he’s also got a way with clothes. Last week, I spoke to Marini, who’s a big fan of Castle, about that wardrobe, getting into character, going up against Castle and working with Castle stars Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic (gushing may have been involved). Marini also spoke about Luc’s return on Brothers & Sisters this Sunday.

How did this role come about? Did you have to audition for it or did they bring it to you?

I was shooting Brothers & Sisters. My contract stipulates that I have four episodes off during the entire season. I had three in a row. One of the executive producers said, “Oh, the next three episodes are going to be without you, so you get a break.” I thought that was cool. The next day, I get a phone call from another show, Royal Pains, to go to New York and shoot. While I was shooting Royal Pains, Castle contacted my agent and asked me if I wanted to do this episode. Obviously, I couldn’t cast or whatever, so they just offered the role to me. I think it was really awesome. I love Castle. We’re having a blast with my wife every week that it’s on. It’s our little guilty pleasure. Every Monday, we watch it.

It’s nice to hear when the actors are fans of the show.

I love it! Last week’s episode was fantastic. The lady [guest star Laura Prepon] was just kicking butt. She was awesome. It was very good. Very good.

Who is Tobias Strange? And how does he get caught up in Castle and Beckett’s murder investigation?

Pretty much, there’s a murder, obviously. [Laughs] Castle and Beckett are investigating the murder and, somehow, it comes to a magician called Tobias Strange. He’s like the Johnny Depp of magic. Like Copperfield mixed in with Criss Angel. He’s very eccentric. He’s on the top of the game. He’s the magician at the moment. He’s got a bit of cockiness and whatnot. Then they’re interrogating him and you see him a bit crumbling. You see him kind of vulnerable in the sense that maybe he’s a murder, maybe not. It’s a thin line. That’s pretty much the background on the character. He’s like an out of space kind of magician type of guy. He’s very into his art and his magic. He’s very secretive.

He also has quite an interesting wardrobe.

[Laughs] I went there and, if I’m not mistaken, Michael was the wardrobe director. He was like, “Oh, we want to do something like that. Do you mind?” I’m like, “Listen. Go full on!” Because this guy is really different. I really wanted to have him pushing the envelope a little bit. It was the dress rehearsal before the show, so he can really push the envelope. He can be really in makeup and hair and studs everywhere. He reminds me a little bit of Dancing With the Stars, but not quite. It was really pushy. I love the fact that the people out there, the Castle family, didn’t mind pushing the envelope there. They made it very sparkly and out of control. I loved it.

Did you look to any real life magicians for inspiration?

A little bit. I remember a lot of the Copperfield magic tricks. Online, it was easier to get access to Criss Angel. There was a lot of rings action and movement with your hands. You divert to make the illusion happen. Obviously, what you see is a third of what we shot. … I looked around at how usually stage magicians act. You need to divert the eyes of the audience to do the trick. I did look around on a couple YouTube stuff what Criss Angel is doing and other magicians also.

Castle is a showman in his own way. How do Castle and Tobias take to each other?

Castle really likes magic. He’s really into it. He’s kind of like a kid that would go to Disneyland when he comes down to the stage, watching him doing the rehearsal. Castle really likes magic, so he didn’t go with a bad intention or whatnot. He was just doing his work. But he was more like an admirer of his work.

Does Tobias teach him any tricks?

Not really. [Laughs] There’s a murder going on. We’re not sure if he is the murderer or if he’s going to help with the murder. There’s no trick involved and teaching stuff. … It was a very good script. The Castle family over there is just awesome people. I really enjoyed the time that I spent on the show.

Was it shocking to the system to go from Brothers & Sisters to Castle?

The common thing between Brothers & Sisters and Castle is that everybody is very tight. I realize in the industry, in this town, whenever there’s a show where people get along really well, your number one and number two – in this case Nathan [Fillion] and Stana [Katic] – are really nice people. The way they welcomed me was beautiful. They all get along really well. It’s a beautiful atmosphere. It’s why the show works. That was really a point that I wanted to make whenever I had an interview. This is why the show is great – because everybody gets along. Everybody works together. It was a great experience. … It was a little bit shocking as soon as they started to do my hair and my makeup. I was like, “Whoa, this is going to be good.” I really enjoyed it.

We haven’t seen Luc on Brothers & Sisters in a while. Are we going to have wait a lot longer for him to come back from China?

One more episode and he’s back. They gave me all these episodes off, one after the other, because they saved the best for the end. It looks like there’s going to be pretty brilliant things happening between [Luc and Sarah]. Lots of ups and downs and, hopefully, an amazing season finale. Maybe we will see a wedding.

What’s it like filming those Walker dinner scenes as a non-Walker?

It’s pretty chaotic. When we shoot it, it has to become that kind of feel, that kind of interact between family members with different opinions. I like it because it’s pretty raw. It’s pretty real. And that’s why people love the show. Because the show is very much real. And working with those kind of actors is fantastic.

When I was on Castle, the second day of shooting… Those two – Nathan and Stana – definitely deserve what they are getting – lead in a show that works really well. They are fantastic people. I hope they go have an amazing, long career because they were so sweet. It’s not everyday you meet people like that. I had a blast doing work with them. They were sweethearts.

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