'Mayans MC' Star Danny Pino Credits 'Authenticity' for Show's Success: What It Means for Season 2 (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
Mayans MC was the most-watched new cable drama of 2018 -- and Danny Pino still can't believe it.
ET spoke with the 44-year-old actor as he hosted a fundraiser honoring Los Angeles firefighters with Andy Garcia at Ceremony Bar in Studio City, California, on Wednesday, where he opened up about the show's massive season one success, and revealed what it means for season two.
"I don't know if I ever really celebrated. I just want to keep working," Pino joked, noting that he and the cast aren't "resting" on viewership numbers, despite their gratitude. "Like, 'OK, we've now set a bar for ourselves. How do we surpass that? How do we dig deeper? How do we make the show and the characters and story lines more interesting and more relevant?' That's our task.'"
The first season of Mayans took place four years after the events of Sons of Anarchy, which was itself a huge hit for FX and creator Kurt Sutter. The show amassed a wide fan base and catapulted its lead, Charlie Hunnam, to stardom, but while Mayans is definitely following in SOA's footsteps, Pino says the show is ready to "run our own race."
"We know it's special," he said, pointing out the rarity of a compelling, mainstream television show featuring a mostly Hispanic cast. "A lot of these actors, I've seen in waiting rooms for auditions. We've gone out for the same roles all the time, and now we're part of the same team.... We're all pushing each other, we're all digging deep to find the reality of this world that Kurt is putting us in. And we all know how special a moment in time it is for all of us to be part of a show that's well-written, current, and it is not insignificant that it's mostly Latino."
"Sons of Anarchy, they set the table for us in a big way, and we all pay our respects to those seven years of SOA and to the fans of that show. We know we have an elevated platform because of it," Pino explained. "But at a certain point, you have to swim on your own, and you have to swim into the deep.... Now it's time to grab that baton and run our own race."
Mayans was renewed for a second season in October, weeks before its season one finale aired. While Pino says he knows "nothing" about where the story leads -- "[Sutter] doesn't tell anybody, 'This is what's going to happen,'" he revealed -- he hopes it maintains the "authenticity" that he credits with fans coming back episode after episode.
"The writers are masters at manipulating not only the story, but each character, so that they're attuned to each character's authenticity. And that can keep you guessing," he said. "They're pushing for authenticity. They want to see the complexity that we all have. We all have that hero and that villain in us."
That's especially true for Pino's character, Miguel Galindo, whose ruthlessness as part of the Galindo cartel was shown throughout the season, as was his more vulnerable side, when his son was kidnapped.
"I would like to see, and I fully anticipate, the same kind of misdirection and the same kinds of twists and turns, the unpredictability of the writing, the challenge in the acting. That's what I expect, and I know that's what Kurt delivers, what [co-creator] Elgin [James] delivers, and what they're probably talking about and kicking around right now," he surmised. "I know what they're mulling over and what they're creating at this moment will fuel that second season."
"It seems like [more of Miguel working with Emilio Rivera's Marcus] is what's being set up for season two," Pino teased. "But if I were to guess as to what was going to happen episode one of season two, I'd probably be wrong."
See more on Mayans in the video below.
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