Jason Castro competed on season 7 of American Idol, and while he ultimately finished in fourth place, that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to pursue his dreams and make a mark in the entertainment industry. This summer, fans will have the chance to see him in a different light, as he’s starring in the TV movie The Perfect Summer on UP TV.
In The Perfect Summer, teenager Jake ends up moving away from Chicago when his mother moves them to a small surfing town where her estranged father (played by Eric Roberts) lives. Feeling lonely, Jake befriends the local surf shop owner, Cody (played by Jason Castro), and finds out his grandfather is a surfing legend.
BuddyTV spoke with Jason recently as well as his co-star Eric Roberts about their characters, if they’ve ever surfed before, what they hope viewers will take away from the film and the movie’s soundtrack, which includes music by Jason himself. Below is our exclusive interview.
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What is the movie about and how does your character play into it?
Eric Roberts: The Perfect Summer is of course a coming of age story, basically. And I play an ex-world champion surfer, and he has a grandson who’s learning how to surf and he’s having issues with his peers. And I slide him into a comfortable spot with his peers by teaching him how to surf, and he becomes a very good surfer. But it’s a coming of age story, it’s a finding yourself story.
Jason Castro: Cody is a local surf shop owner, a young guy, but not a kid anymore. And as I read through the script … he’s around a heartthrob of kids, that good role model. Yeah, he’s there for the kids. He’s a good guy.
Jason, is it true that when the script was being written, they kept you in mind for this role?
Jason: It is true. And I’m very thankful for it. This is my first acting piece and it really helps a lot that it’s a character that I can relate to that’s similar to me, making the process a whole lot easier for me.
Did you still have to audition or were you hired right away?
Jason: My label was talking with UP TV about, maybe we could do a project with one of our artists, do a movie and incorporate the music. How can we do this? So from the beginning, it was [talked about to have] some of my music and have me in it. It’s kind of weird to say it’s all inspired by me, but it’s really neat. All the songs are inspired by the music. I absolutely loved it. I’ve always dreamed of being a surfer and living on the beach. I was really into skateboarding here, it’s as close to surfing as we could get. So it was great to play this role and be out on the beach and hanging out with surfers.
Did you get the chance to surf in The Perfect Summer?
Jason: I didn’t get to surf, which is a major bummer. … I don’t do any surfing in the movie, unfortunately.
Eric: Yeah, I surfed a bit [to prepare]. And I’m not a good surfer. But I can paddle out there and I can stand up. ‘Wow, he can stand up, he’s an actor, he’s pretty good!’ So I did that. … I’ve never been on a surf board in my life until this movie.
I had this guy, [Tony Silvagni] — number three in the world in the long board, did my doubling. … He was a cool cat, and we had a great relationship. And he made fun of me in just the right way. ‘Don’t do that, Eric! That’s not what we do.’ It was a lot of fun. And it’s also fun for me now that I’m an old middle-age guy to hang out with all these younger kids, these young actors. [Silvagni is a gold-medal winner, and has a local surf school in North Carolina.]
Eric, did you find you could relate to your character at all, and how different was it to play someone like him as opposed to other characters you’ve played in the past?
Eric: Yeah, I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve been called the best thing since sliced bread. And I’ve been called, what is he doing? So I can understand all the extremes, and I take none of them very seriously because if you believe any of them, you have to believe all of them.
I have played a few athletes, and [my character’s] an athlete, so I understand that head and I understand that drive. And so it was easy for me. It’s like being an actor in a 100-yard dash, it’s fun. This guy wasn’t really that different from the other guys I’ve played. He’s an anti-hero, he’s a good guy with an edge. But he’s not a bad guy for once. I’m not killing anybody. [Laughs.]
Did you get to act in any scenes with Jason Castro?
Eric: Jason Castro is one of my favorite people. He’s on tour now with my step-son, Keaton Simons. They’re co-headlining a tour together. … They’re on the road right now. And they both have songs in the movie The Perfect Summer, they both have songs in that film. Jason is a great cat. In fact, Keaton and he — so I had already known everything about Jason except for meeting him up ’til this movie. We got to talk about all the stuff we had in common. It was nice. He’s a really sweet guy.
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Jason, your music is included as part of the movie’s soundtrack. Did you get to write the music just for this movie or was it music you had already written?
Jason: It was music I had already written. It was part of my newest album [Only a Mountain] that came out in January. So they were already written, but a lot of this movie was inspired by these songs and these lyrics, so they’re very pertinent to this film and in creating the scenes and ideas of this movie.
And speaking of your music, your new single is “Rise to You.” Since you co-wrote it, what’s the theme, the idea, behind this song?
Jason: The idea is really about, where does my hope come from? And one of the greatest comforts I have was believing God’s above me watching over me, looking out for me, guiding my steps. That’s something I always believed. And God is who I turn to for all things, and that’s pretty much what the song is about.
In the music video for “Rise to You,” we see you signing autographs and taking pictures — there’s a lot of interaction with your fans. How did that concept for the video come about?
Jason: The music video, that was a cool way that came about. So we just had a camera crew for a few days when we were doing Winter Jam. And the first few days, we were doing a lot of rehearsals and just capturing footage. We didn’t really know what we were going to use it for. And then we decided to make this our next single — we were like, let’s try to put a video together of footage because it was really cool. And it gave it a new meaning when I heard the song again. That video, I was like, wow. It reminded me of my daily even challenges and struggles with just real life and just really having to rely on God guiding me through strength to do those shows. It was just kind of a behind the scenes. It reminded me of all that goes into the tour.
The Perfect Summer, you’ve done that movie now. Would you want to delve more into acting again in the future?
Jason: 100% yes. Never having done it before, I didn’t know what it was like. And now after an experience like this, absolutely would love to, would be thrilled to do more. I’m pretty busy with the music, but it’s definitely something that I hope to do in the future, to find a new role to be a part of, because I really did love it.
Finally, what do you want viewers to take away from this movie?
Eric: Satisfaction with the storyline because it goes from a problematic to a problem-solving, and just hope. As an actor, I like to be involved in movies that are about hope. … It’s a good feeling to have problem-solving [stories]. That’s all I’m interesting in because it gives everybody a nice hour.
The Perfect Summer premieres Saturday, July 13 at 7pm ET (with encores at 9pm and 11pm ET) on UP TV.
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(Image courtesy of UP TV)