BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (WIAT) – The past two years have been very good for the Wu-Tang Clan.
Last year, the nine-member hip hop group Staten Island celebrated the 25e anniversary of their debut album, “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)”, which was hailed by critics and fans as one of the best albums in the genre for its pun, music sampling and subject matter extraordinary. stage standard at the time. This year, a four-part documentary was released on Showtime titled “Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men,” chronicling the group’s 27-year history.
With their longevity and increased exposure, the group’s popularity increased and their music reached new audiences.
At the same time, the last few years have been good for Caleb Castille which has caused the Birmingham native’s life to intersect with the group.
Castille, a former University of Alabama football player, has a small but notable role in the new Hulu series, “Wu-Tang: An American Saga”. Castile plays Darryl Hill, better known to Wu-Tang fans as “Cappadonna,” who was in prison when the band started recording their music, but has been involved with the band in one form or another since. start.
The series depicts a fictional version of the group as they grow up on the streets. Several actors, such as Shameik Moore from “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and Ashton Sanders from “Moonlight,” also star in the series.
Castile, the son of famous University of Alabama defensive back Jeremiah Castille, grew up in a football-obsessed home. Like his father, the two Castilian brothers, Tim and Simeon, also played at the University of Alabama and, later, the NFL. And like his brothers, Castile also played at the University of Alabama, joining the team in 2010.
However, Castile said that he always had different dreams from his brothers or his father: he wanted to be an actor.
“Football was something I grew up doing,” Castile said. “It was something that was an integral part of my life, but I always felt that there was more to my life and my vocation than football.”
Jeremiah Castille, who has spent the past 18 years as chaplain for the Crimson Tide football team, said he was nervous when Caleb first told him he wanted to leave the team, but he explained why he had made this decision.
“He told me ‘Playing is my dream’ so I could relate to that because when I was a boy I dreamed of playing football,” he said. “I chased him and, God bless, he made that dream come true.”
In 2013, Castile decided to quit the team and try to act. Going through the process of being a working actor, Castile had done auditions and landed a few commercials, but it was in 2014 that his first hiatus came, being hired as an understudy in the movie “Woodlawn”, which point climax focuses on the famous 1974 football game between Woodlawn High School and the former Banks High School at Legion Field.
Shortly after signing for the film, a big change happened: Castile was given one of the lead roles from Tony Nathan, the first black ball carrier at Woodlawn who himself played at the University of Alabama. It was Castile’s first leading role, the one his father said was his favorite of his son so far.
“The story of this is something that I’m very close to,” said Jeremiah, who knew Nathan.
The film was shot in Birmingham and released in 2015.
In the years since Woodlawn, Castile became a guest star on TV shows like “9-1-1” and “The Rookie”. However, accessing the Wu-Tang show proved to be more of a challenge for him than other projects.
On the one hand, Castile was not familiar with the work of the group before signing. On the other hand, Castile auditioned for several roles before landing on Cappadonna, including renowned members Ghostface Killah, GZA and Inspectah Deck.
“He was crazy three or four months before we started,” he said.
What made Cappadonna’s game even more difficult was the way the rapper fits into the group’s history. Although she grew up with several people in the group and even mentored another U-God member, Cappadonna went back and forth to prison during the Wu-Tang training period and missed the recording. of “36 Chambers” with the group. However, the rapper has always been linked to the group in one way or another, collaborating with different members. For the past decade, Cappadonna has worked with the group as a full member.
In fact, the main Castile scenes in the film are where Cappadonna and longtime Wu-Tang manager Mitchell “Divine” Diggs were in prison together.
“Knowing his surroundings and surroundings, he was in prison, so how does a 20-21 year old from ‘Killer Hill’ (the nickname for the Park Hill neighborhood in Staten Island) work, how does he work, why does he do these things here, ”Castile said. “For me it was trying to figure out where he came from as an individual, how I could lay the foundation for his creative process.”
Castile said the group are reaching new generations of fans and have gone on to have a rich legacy due to the way they tried to do something different, while also learning to overcome heartbreak and pain.
“They don’t rap about Bentleys, cars and jewelry,” he said. “When you listen to their music, they’re just talking about the realities of their surroundings. They were rapping about important things.
As for Castile, it seeks to establish its own heritage. An inspiration to him was Michael B. Jordan of “Black Panther” and “Creed”, not only because of his acting, but also the way he produces many films of which he is a part.
“I want to be in a position where I can tell the stories I want to tell,” he said.
Until then, Castile is focused on doing his best as an actor.
“First and foremost, I want to be a great actor,” he said. “I always want to deliver in my job, whatever the projects. “
As for Jeremy, he wants to see his son use his voice for something good.
“I would like him to see him make powerful faith-based films that can reach the next generation,” he said.
Currently, Castile can be seen in the Netflix film, “The World We Make”.
A new episode of “Wu-Tang: American Saga” is uploaded every Wednesday on Hulu.