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When it came to developing a spinoff to FX's standout drama Sons of Anarchy, the team behind Mayans M.C. knew that the pressure was on in finding just the right cast members to lead the latter out of SAMCRO's shadow. As prospect E.Z. Reyes, star J.D. Pardo is working hard to distance himself from from Charlie Hunnam's Jax Teller (who's gotten some name-checks in Season 2) and it helps when he's got a Hollywood icon like Edward James Olmos playing his father Felipe.
Though J.D. Pardo is no amateur within the world of acting, Battlestar Galactica vet Edward James Olmos has 40 years of acting credits to his name across the big and small screen. Acting opposite him in scenes can be intimidating, especially since his character is such a guarded hardass. When I had a chance to talk with Pardo at the Television Critics Association's 2019 summer press tour, I complimented him for holding his own in scenes with Olmos, and here's what he said (while smiling, of course):
You know, for me as an actor, it's just such an honor. But I know that it's also a challenge, because you just have to place a camera on him; there's so much history there, there's so much experience there. He's a legend. So for me, never one to want to be outdone by anybody, I make sure that I just bring it, you know? I have to bring it.
To land the starring role on a high-interest show like Mayans M.C., an actor definitely has to have a swath of confidence within his reach in order to play off against all of the other larger-than-life personalities on the screen. And even though J.D. Pardo is playing a booksmart entry-level member of the Mayans club, both he and E.Z. still have to deliver on the boldness and the machismo against Michael Irby's Bishop, Clayton Cardenas's Angel and Danny Pino's Miguel.
But especially against Edward James Olmos' Felipe, who was a former cartel enforcer that is far closer to the criminal underworld than either E.Z. or Angel realizes, though Season 2 has opened things up on that front.
It might be slightly more difficult for J.D. Pardo if Edward James Olmos was playing a character that wanted to kill him, but the actor enjoys the relative closeness that E.Z. and Felipe get to have. In his words:
It's beautiful, because I think we also just create this relationship of father and son where there's an understanding between the two much more than there is between Angel and Felipe. There's an understanding between E.Z. and Felipe. They almost don't have to say things to each other cause they kinda know where each other is at. But it definitely evolves in this season. A lot of Felipe's past comes to light. A lot of his secrets come to light. And E.Z. is just taking all of that information in and combining it. Like, how does it work with my mother? How does it work with my life? How does it work with our life? There's so many questions that you can imagine E.Z. would ask himself. So it's incredible when you have a brilliant actor like Edward to just really portray all that.
Like J.D. Pardo said it above, all a director really has to do to capture gripping cinema is set a camera down somewhere in the vicinity of Edward James Olmos, and the actor will deliver on all fronts, just as he did in projects such as Blade Runner, Miami Vice, and Stand and Deliver. (He earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for the latter.)
Now what really, really needs to happen is Jimmy Smits' Nero needs to come around, and he needs to inspire a spinoff where Olmos and Smits go off on adventures together. I'm not against Emilio Rivera being on board, too.