Chicago actor Mike Castle lived a double life at the beginning of his acting career.
He hid his acting aspirations from his friends because he was fearful of what they might’ve said about him.
“In Beverly, I felt that there were a lot of expectations to be cool or tough, and I didn’t have those qualities,” said Castle. “It was kind of this dual identity almost, where I would do this secret thing where I do improv unbeknownst to my peers. And then when I was like 15 or 16, some of my high school friends found out, and they thought it was cool. And then that was a surprising turn for me to have this thing that I was doing as a secret suddenly be cool to these South Side guys.”
Castle stars in “Brews Brothers,” a new Netflix TV series (premiering Friday), as Adam Rodman, who runs a California craft brewery with his estranged brother, Wilhelm (Alan Aisenberg).
Castle, a 2007 graduate of Brother Rice High School, said the show is a hybrid of the HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and FX’s “The League.” The creator of “The League,” Jeff Schaffer, co-created “Brews Brothers” with his brother, Greg.
“I had been around brewery people a little bit, and I’ve always been a big fan of beer,” Castle said. “And so I had a kind of general idea of it; it was more like in the audition itself. You could kind of see what Jeff Schaffer and Greg Schaffer wanted: the idea of the extremely pretentious person. It doesn’t just have to be about beer. It could be anyone who is like, ‘Only I am right. Only I know all of the details. Only I am infallible and whatever.’
“You’re playing this diversion. Doesn’t have to be a craft brewery. It can be a painter, it can be any of these things. It’s really just this more of the archetype of a really arrogant person.”
Castle, who starred in the TBS series “Clipped” with Beverly native George Wendt of “Cheers” and “Superfans” fame, said he often has to temper the expectations of family and friends who think that just because a network picks up any TV series he’s in, he can stay relaxed about his career.
“I’m always sort of bracing myself for a show to not [be canceled] or whatever the thing is, and so it’s kind of like they’ll all get amped up and I’ll just say, ‘We’ll see,’ ” Castle said. “So it’s like their enthusiasm has increased, and then I am more guarded and hopeful.”
Once Castle got the acting bug as a student at St. Barnabas School, he ended up in a teen program with the legendary Second City theater troupe.
“It takes all the similar pressure of acting on stage and like a drama,” Castle said. “But then there are no scripts, and, you know, you’re a teenager, so you’re at your most awkward, weird version of yourself. You ride up the escalator at Piper’s Alley and you see Wendt, [Chris] Farley, Joe Flaherty and Martin Short. So it’s a very cool thing.”
While in Los Angeles to further pursue his acting career, he met his future wife, actress Lauren Lapkus (“Orange Is the New Black”), an Evanston native and DePaul graduate.
“We were circling one another’s social spheres for a long time,” Castle said. “The Chicago connections were deep and specific. Her dad went to Brother Rice.”
What’s next for Castle?
He’s hoping viewers like “Brews Brothers” enough that there’s a second season.
“I’m very excited for the show to come out,” Castle said. “It’s the most I’ve felt like a show that’s reflective of more aspects of my personality or my sensibility. I found the job … and working with Jeff and Greg was just the best.”