After watching the intriguing Radioman documentary, we were given the opportunity to delve deeper into the man declared by Tom Hanks as an ‘institution unto himself.’ The film told an interesting story, but it felt there wasn’t enough time to find out what really made this eccentric character tick.
As we sat down to interview him, it took a minute for him to notice us as he struggled getting to grips with an old Nokia phone. We weren’t too surprised that he still looked very much like the homeless man he presented himself as in the documentary, and equally unsurprised to see his trademark necklace-radio on the table next to him. As we began our questions, Radioman uttered what could only be described as leprechaun-esque sounds. And so began the interview…
Well, first thing’s first. Could you repeat those soundbites?
RADIOMAN: BOO-LINDY. SCHOOOOOOOL-MEN. BOO-LINDY. SCHOOOOOOOL-MEN. LET ME PISS ON YOU. ARE YOU GAY, YOU MISERABLE MOVIE WHORE? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! SCUMBAG!
When I got into the movie business, people started helping me out
Thanks for that. Without further ado. In some ways, it looks like you got lucky. Literally stumbling onto a film set, and getting swept up in the industry. Do you think what happened to you was pure luck? Or would you have some words of advice for people in tough situations looking to make something of themselves?
RADIOMAN: I did stumble. Stumbled into a deep dark hole like Alice in Wonderland. It was a combination of both, really. It was kind of like luck, I guess. Or maybe it was my destiny. But I was never much of a hot looker, so I had to work for everything I did. Nobody was gonna help me out. When I got into the movie business, people started helping me out. Before that I was shuffled off like a bum. Nobody. Garbage, you know? The advice I have for anybody in a situation as bad as mine was is, ‘Pick yourself up. No matter how much people try to put you down, you get on with it. Because people will try to step on you, no matter what. You just gotta keep on plugging. I wasn’t an overnight sensation. It took me 20 years to get here. Then it just grew, like a monster! Be yourself, and other people will notice it too.
Were you a film fan before getting involved in the movies? Did you previously have ambitions to be involved in films? Or did it just happen?
RADIOMAN: I studied printing when I was growing up. I didn’t really want to be a printer, but I gave it a go. I always liked being the class clown. I always wanted to make people laugh, lighten up dull lives. Once, when I was in history class in school – five stories up – I couldn’t take any more of how boring the class was. I went over to the window and said ‘If you don’t stop talking, I’ll jump.’ Everyone went crazy, telling me to jump, with the teacher getting all flustered worrying that I was really gonna do it.
You always had a draw towards performing then, but never though about film before stumbling into it.
RADIOMAN: My parents used to watch the old classics. John Wayne, Laurence Olivier. I would sit there and watch it with them. I preferred The Three Stooges and The Flintstones. Funny stuff. I watched it and told myself, ‘I can do that. I can be funny.’ But it wasn’t easy getting into it.
Does it get at all tiresome being known mainly as Radioman? In films you’re always typecast as either a tramp, Radioman, or you go by uncredited. Would you like to play more major roles, in which you get credited as Craig Castaldo?
RADIONMAN: I gotta play myself, but I’d like to play roles in more major stuff. I got that in Shutter Island, where Marty [Scorsese] told me to shave my hair and beard, otherwise I had to go home.
That’s kind a step up, isn’t it?
RADIOMAN: Yes, it is. I got that in Spider-man 2 too, where Sam Raimi dressed me up in a suit and bling with two girls on my arms.
It seems that with all your comical persona and soundbites, you have a lot to offer. Do you…
RADIOMAN: … and I worked with Robert Pattinson.
Judging by the documentary, you don’t seem to love Pattinson.
RADIOMAN: I didn’t in the beginning, no, but when I saw him act, I saw the guy could do it. He had the chops, so I warmed up to him. I used to wonder why women swarmed around this skinny, anaemic vampire dude, but he proved he had it.
Do you feel like you have more to offer as an actor?
RADIONMAN: Yes, I still want to be this, but maybe more involved with lines. Maybe I could play a homeless buddy to one of the main actors.
I always told myself that if I can’t be a DJ, I’ll make it in the film business
Have you taken acting classes to try and get these roles?
RADIOMAN: Never took acting classes. In fact, when I was younger I always wanted to be in radio. I never wanted to be an actor. I wanted to be a disc jockey. I loved records. ‘Hello, this is Radioman here. Welcome to CBS Radio, 105.1.’ I used to love the British music that came to these shores. Status Quo, Genesis, String Driven Thing. I heard of Genesis when Peter Gabriel was still there, way before Phil Collins did vocals on his own.
Sounds like you’re more of a music fan than film fan.
RADIONMAN: Always been more of a music fan. I always told myself that if I can’t be a DJ, I’ll make it in the film business.
Not a bad choice of careers. Are you enjoying the recognition you get from film?
RADIOMAN: Yes, absolutely. It can be a bit overwhelming though. With people coming up and say ‘Hey Radioman. I saw you in this, I saw you in that.’ I never got that before. Before I started doing films, nobody knew who the fuck I was!
Any actors in the industry you take cues from?
RADIOMAN: Robin Williams has been a good friend and influence ever since I met him on-set. Other than that. I like George Clooney, but I don’t take cues from him.
The radio around your neck; it seems to have got you through some tough times when were homeless, but now it must be a bit of a burden. Why do you still wear it?
RADIOMAN: Like Samson and Delilah. Without his hair, he loses his power. It’s like that with my radio. I used to have a big boombox so this one’s pretty light by comparison. Nowadays everyone doesn’t even own these.
Nowadays it’s all iPods, but I’m guessing you won’t be becoming iPodman any time soon.
RADIOMAN: I’m sticking to the radio. I will never change. I don’t like the headsets getting in the way of your hair. I want to blast what I think is good music, and get other people to hear it too. No iPods.
Radioman, thanks for your time.