From co-creators Kurt Sutter and Elgin James, the FX series Mayans M.C. is the next chapter in the Sons of Anarchy saga, now set in a post-Jax Teller world. Fresh out of prison and trying to carve out a new identity in a town where he was once the golden boy with big dreams, Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes (JD Pardo) is trying to navigate what it means to be a Prospect in the Mayans M.C. charter on the California/Mexico border. While figuring out what the next step in his life can be, EZ is torn between his struggling but lawful father (Edward James Olmos), his brother Angel (Clayton Cardenas), who is a full patch member of the M.C., and his childhood sweetheart Emily (Sarah Bolger), who seems to have moved on without him.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, actor JD Pardo talked about the responsibility of leading such a high profile TV series, representing a culture and a company to the best of his ability, why the Sons fans are important to him, the dynamic between EZ and his brother, whether he’s looking to get his ex back, working with the legendary Edward James Olmos, and how much Mayans is pushing him as an actor. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Collider: How does it feel to be at the epicenter of it all? Do you feel the responsibility of being number one on the call sheet?
JD PARDO: It is a responsibility. I remember this one time when I was on Revolution, and we were shooting the pilot and I was riding in the van with Jon Favreau. I’ll never forget it, but he really took me under his wing and taught me a little bit about the camera and performance and who to study. He talked about being number one on the call sheet, or just the lead, and he said, “It’s not just your acting that puts you there. It’s also how you treat the crew, how you treat your cast, and how you treat everybody.”
It’s up to you to set that tone.
PARDO: You have a responsibility to breathe life into people. So, I love that part of it because I love people and I love the cast. As an actor, this is obviously a dream come true. It’s so hard already to make a career out of this, but to be put in the position where you’re getting publicity and people are learning about you, and they’re able to see your work at a higher level, you get more opportunities from it. In that sense, it’s amazing. But you also find, more and more, that you still need time for yourself.
You’re also representing a culture and trying to give it a depth that we don’t always get to see.
PARDO: Right, and that’s not an easy task. It’s very challenging, which is why I wanted to do it. I’m thankful that Kurt [Sutter] and Elgin [James] and FX saw me in the role, but I immediately think of three things – my responsibility to Kurt and Elgin to tell the story, to be the character, and to represent the FX brand, making sure that I’m not a knucklehead and I represent the company well. And more than any of the those things, I think about the Sons of Anarchy fans. I owe it to them, 100%, to do my best and to give them all of me.
As someone who’s a fan that’s seen all of Sons, it’s really cool how this show has nods to what has been established, but in a way that feels really natural, which is not an easy task.
PARDO: That’s a tribute to and says a lot about Kurt, his writing, the writers, and FX. What I loved about this is that it’s not a remake or a sequel. It’s still the Sons world, but it’s almost as if the camera went off of the Sons onto the Mayans. Now, you’re seeing their way of doing things. It’s different. It’s a little bit darker because the kingdom isn’t great, like it was with SAMCRO and Charming, where Jax was the prince. The Mayans are just these low-level dogs to the cartel, and they’re struggling and trying to survive. EZ is a Prospect who comes with all of this history and tragedy and regret, and who works for the DEA. He doesn’t want to be there. The only thing that’s holding him there is his brother. He’s there so he can do his job, and maybe leave the country and try to find himself somewhere, but his love to his brother and his family grabs onto him.
Do you think EZ pretty quickly realizes that his brother is not quite who he thought he was?
PARDO: Yeah, but how do you leave family? Even when you do, it takes time. You hear those stories of, “He was my brother, but after 30 years, I had to just say, ‘You’re bad for me.’” It’s one of those things where you get to learn a lot about the loyalty of family. Also, sometimes you just want to be a part of something. It’s a lonely world sometimes, and especially when your knocked down and nobody is there for you, like where EZ is at. He years to be a part of something. The thing with him that’s just so interesting is that he doesn’t just want to be a part of it, he wants to fix it. He wants to lead it. I don’t know if he’ll get there, but he’s smart and he can do a lot of things. This is just where he’s at.