CHICAGO — These are the characters you didn’t get to see Chicago native Mike Castle play on TV: Mandy Moore’s younger brother; a bright-eyed and good-natured 20-something; a physician from rural Ohio; the younger brother of a Wall Street womanizer.
“I’ve done so many unaired pilots that the way I almost view the work is, I do this job, we film it, everyone thinks it’s going to go, it doesn’t go, and then no one ever sees it. So this is already pretty awesome to have a show that will be on Netflix and that I actually really enjoy,” Castle told the Tribune by phone.
On the Netflix series “Brews Brothers,” due out Friday, Castle plays Adam Rodman, an arrogant brewmaster who shows up unannounced at the failing brewery run by his younger brother, Wilhelm (Alan Aisenberg). The two bicker over brewing techniques and the taproom layout, but end up working together to try to recreate a beer with a one-of-a-kind ingredient that impressed a distributor.
Castle, 31, grew up in the Beverly neighborhood with two older brothers and got into performing at a young age. He attended Brother Rice High School and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (an experience that he didn’t enjoy because he was “always very bored”) before moving from Chicago to Los Angeles in 2011. Castle said he trained at iO, Second City and Upright Citizens Brigade.
ENJOYS DRINKING BEER
“Brews Brothers” executive producers Greg and Jeff Schaffer describe him as a sharp-witted improviser, which is important because scripts for the eight-episode, half-hour comedy were “just a jumping-off point.” And while Castle enjoys drinking beer, he said he didn’t know much about making it when he landed the role.
“We did beer school on our first day after rehearsal, then continued to do more beer practice with a brewmaster who owned and operated the place that we shot, which was a real brewery,” Castle said. “If we were talking about beer, I wanted to actually know what we were talking about. It would be too hard to improvise it if we didn’t know things.”
Jeff Schaffer, who wrote for “Seinfeld” and co-created “The League,” noticed Castle when he auditioned for his “Dave” series, which premiered last month on the FXX network. Jeff said Castle wasn’t quite right for that role, but suggested him for “Brews Brothers” when Greg started casting the series. The Schaffers said Castle has a way of being likable, even while playing a despicable character — or winning a chess match.
“As brilliant an actor and improviser as Mike is, he’s actually more passionate about one other thing, and that’s chess,” Jeff Schaffer said. “There are few things more humiliating than playing him in chess because as he plays you and beats you easily, he is also smack-talking with you, so you’re getting broken down physically and mentally. You’re being spoken to like you’re a child.”
Castle is married to Evanston native and DePaul University alum Lauren Lapkus. The two starred on the TBS comedy “Clipped,” which was canceled in 2015 after one season.
The couple is on this week’s episode of the “Comedy Bang! Bang!” podcast. Castle also has a movie with Pauly Shore and Billy Zane, “Guest House,” due out this year. He said he is “cautiously optimistic” about “Brews Brothers.”
“If this fails, it’s not his fault,” Jeff Schaffer said about Castle. “If it succeeds, it’s in large part because of his brilliance.”