When Kurt Sutter announced that he would be creating a spin-off of his widely successful motorcycle drama Sons of Anarchy that follows the inner-workings of the Mayans MC, fans were ecstatic. The original series had signed off back in 2014 and for the following years, audiences had been craving to head back into the dark and edgy world of motorcycle outlaws. So, it was no surprise that when the Mayans MC first premiered on September 4th, not only were the ratings nearly identical to Sons’ 2008 premiere but it quickly became cable’s top series premiere in 2018. However, in just two episodes, Mayans has already blazed its own trail largely in part to its creative storytelling, timely setting, and its diversely talented cast – and it shows no signs of slowing down.
Of course, meeting an entire motorcycle club right off the bat can be overwhelming, but Richard Cabral’s performance as fully patched member Johnny “Coco” Cruz, a former Army sharpshooter and weapons specialist, stood out right away. His presence on camera immediately captures attention and his dialogue is often laced with humor and depth. As the second episode premiered, it became quite clear that Coco was certainly going to be one of the vital characters orbiting around EZ Reyes (played by JD Pardo). The character recently had the opportunity to work with fan-favorite Michael Ornstein, who played Chucky throughout Sons of Anarchy, and he has an intriguing storyline surrounding his family bubbling up as well. Needless to say, he’s certainly one to watch.
Known for his roles on series such as Lethal Weapon and American Crime, for which he received an Emmy nomination, Cabral’s Mayans character is unlike anything fans have ever seen him in. Luckily, we were able to take some time to speak with Cabral about the series in general, what it’s like working with such a close cast, and just what to expect from that subtle cliffhanger between Coco and his mom. Check out the interview below!
Fan Fest: First of all, congratulations on a fantastic series premiere! What was the cast’s reaction to becoming the best new cable premiere for 2018?
Richard Cabral: The whole cast was a bit surprised, but we were just joyous over it! We didn’t really want to shoot for the stars and start jumping for joy right away. A lot of us were skeptical in regards to how our audience was going to receive it, so, we were kind of blown away in a sense. We hadn’t really had time to talk about it but there were a lot of factors going against us even though we were being promoted everywhere. We honestly didn’t know how our audience was going to receive it, so we were just a bit surprised about how we took off.
FF: When it comes to the pilot episode for an ensemble show like this it feels as though a bunch of characters are coming at you at once and it can be hard to keep track of them all. Your character Coco, though, he stood out right away. What your first impression of him on the page, and how did you bring this character to life? He’s certainly got a lot of personality.
RC: For sure! I became Kurt Sutter’s “insanity” kind of. At first I was kind of intimidated by Coco, because I never had a character like this before that just is so off the wall and humorous, and saying things you would think shouldn’t be funny, So, it was something new for me, but I knew that being in Kurt Sutter’s path that it was going to be great.
FF: Absolutely, you’ve made me laugh every episode so far! I’d like to talk about this past week’s episode because you got to work with Michael Ornstein (Chucky on Sons of Anarchy) who also provided a lot of humor. Can you tell me a little bit about getting to work with him?
RC: It was just a beautiful experience. Being able to work with Chucky, and with Kurt, but especially with Chucky, I know that I’m amongst great talent and I’m amongst great storytellers, so I just let them set the tone for that. I didn’t watch Sons of Anarchy so I didn’t really know what type of journey I was going to be on. But now, as you will see throughout the season, I have a lot of scenes with Chucky. It’s like we’re sitting in this weird land – the land of Chucky and Coco, and it’s going to get good.
FF: That sounds amazing. So, episode two’s final moments found Coco meeting up with his mom after he seemed to recognize the girl’s photo on the website. I know you probably can’t tell us too much, but can you tease anything about that storyline that’s coming up?
RC: For sure, we’re definitely going to open up with that storyline and there’s definitely a connection right there with the picture and with the mom. We’re going to go through Coco’s past and it’s going to be a deep journey – definitely a deep, beautiful, and horrible story all wrapped up together.
FF: Well, it was a really intriguing cliffhanger, so I’m sure fans will look forward to learning more throughout the season. When the series was introducing characters on social media, FX was doing these cool videos with a quick tagline for each character. When they introduced your character, Coco, he was introduced as “have his back and he’ll have yours”. Will we be finding out what this mantra of loyalty means?
RC: I think that his loyalty is whether he’s going left or he’s going right, whatever he decides, he’s not half-stepping. He’s in all the way, you know? He’s either all in or all out. So, I think that’s the biggest thing with Coco.
— Mayans MC (@MayansFX) September 3, 2018
FF: So, I imagine that with a show like this, it’s hard to not become super close to the actors you’re working wit. Does that brotherhood continue off-screen as just as much as it shows on screen?
RC: Absolutely. I think that’s back to what I was saying earlier. We’ve been with each other for a year and a half and we’ve gotten quite close during these seasons. We spent more time with each other than we did with our families so, organically that relationship is just gonna come together like that. Sure, some of us are closer than others, but we’re all within that family feel. I think that’s a major thing that resonates within our audience. When they can see that brotherly love off-screen and see that it’s just as genuine and beautiful as on-screen.
FF: Knowing that a cast is just as close off camera certainly makes it more fun and engaging for fans to watch on screen as well because those relationships feel much more real.
RC: Yes, and we’re always there for each other. Through the hard days, through the hot summer, we’re there to support each other. I think that’s true family. No matter what, we’re willing to support each other and we’re willing to sacrifice for each other.
You can catch Cabral as Coco on Mayans MC Tuesdays at 10:00 pm EST on FX!
Having studied Media & Writing at James Madison University, I always knew that I wanted to do some type of creative writing, but being able to write about zombies, Starks, and superheroes on a daily basis for Fan Fest is my actual dream. While I probably shouldn’t be as proud as I am to be so similar to Nick Miller, I do hope to one day write my own “Pepperwood Chronicles’.