'Mayans M.C.' Star Emilio Rivera on Getting to Revive Marcus: 'I Feel Like a Little Kid' (Exclusive)

Emilio Rivera, Mayans M.C.
Prashant Gupta/FX

The veteran actor also chats about what's different this time 'round with his 'Sons of Anarchy' character.

Usually, when a TV show ends, all the actors who brought that world to life bid farewell to their characters and move on. However, once in a while some actors get a second chance at bringing certain extra-special characters to life. Such was the case with Marcus Alvarez, played by Emilio Rivera, who first appeared in Sons of Anarchy and is now in Mayans M.C. 

ET spoke with "El Padrino" himself about reprising the leader of the Mexican motorcycle club and the difficult subject matter the show is looking to explore.

“When I was working in Charming, I was there [to sell] the guns, the dope, the heroin, whatever it was. Now you see that I answer to somebody,” he said in a phone interview, referring to the Mexican cartel. “You’ve always got someone above you. I don’t know about Galindo [Danny Pino], he probably answers to the devil. I don’t know. We all answer to somebody.”

True enough, unlike Sons of Anarchy, Mayans M.C. showcases the Mexican bikers’ often volatile relationship with the Galindo Cartel, headed up by Miguel Galindo south of the border, offering a very different perspective on this outlaw life.

 And, as fans know, the show features a band of vigilantes called Los Olvidados (The Forgotten) led by the mysterious Adelita (played by Carla Baratta), which is primarily made up of orphaned children who wage war against the cartel. It’s disturbing to see child soldiers in masks carrying out sometimes vengeful acts, but as Rivera points out, that’s the point.

“And you know, that group Los Olvidados, that’s a real group, man. How sad and how badass that is. It goes both ways. The orphans and the cartel. That’s heavy, bro,” he reflected, before considering how some orphans might feel under these trying circumstances. “I wouldn’t even think about that. I wouldn’t have even thought about that. ‘But you know what, you killed my parents, bro, I’m out to get you.’ What a concept.”

According to the 57-year-old actor, his return to this world was made all the more exciting by introducing audiences to vibrant Latino communities created with care by a largely Latino cast and crew.

“This is the first time I’ve seen this [many] people like me on one show, you get what I’m saying? Also, behind the scenes, Kurt [Sutter, the series co-creator] made a point of that and that’s how it’s been going. It makes me proud,” he stated. “At first, I was nervous about that because SOA was so good, you know. But when I saw what they had I wasn’t worried anymore. I’m just proud... We’ve been waiting a long time for this opportunity. These guys came to play, man.”

Rivera also commented on the importance of tackling the border war, stating: “I think it’s the perfect time. They got with what’s happening right now. It’s scary but it’s happening right now.”

James Minchin/FX

Now that the season is three episodes in, viewers are able to see how it’s similar to SOA and how it’s a total departure. In many ways, it’s far more topical in its subject matter, often making the violence more timely and tragic, like the burning of the two Mexicans in episode 2. Although Rivera refused to offer details on what fans can expect to see, he did promise big things are on the way.

“All the way to the last page of episode 10, I was like… ‘I can’t wait for next season now,' you dig? And I’m not the type of guy to get excited, bro,” he said. “I’m really excited about this show.”

After 25 years in the business, Rivera discussed just how special working on this show is to him.

“I’m in the last quarter of my life and it’s like, I feel like a little kid right now,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. At the end of the day, it’s just a job. I love what I do. And then I come to this job and it’s like my love for acting has started all over again. It’s like I’m starting again. I can’t wait to go to work… I’ve got it pretty damn good.”

New episodes of Mayans M.C. air on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.

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