'Mayans MC' Star Richard Cabral on What's in Store for Coco and the Club (Exclusive)

Richard Cabral
Courtesy of FX

In the pilot for FX’s new show, Mayans M.C., fans are introduced to a wide array of new players in the California biker scene. But few are quite as promising (or as hilarious) as Johnny “Coco” Cruz, played by Richard Cabral.

ET spoke with Cabral about what’s to come for his character, not to mention “EZ” Reyes (J.D. Pardo) and the rest of the Mayans. First and foremost, Cabral quickly made it clear that fans are in for some rough times on the road ahead.

“You might have to go through hell, but you’re gonna come up,” he explained over the phone prior to the show’s first episode airing last week. “And you’re gonna get a little bit more dirty. You’re gonna get a little bit more scarred up but you’re not gonna die. You’re gonna keep on pushing through.”

Like the show’s predecessor, Sons of Anarchy, Mayans M.C.’s very first episode immerses viewers in a gritty world. This time, the struggle for survival takes place right at the U.S.’s southern border. As EZ works to prove himself as a member of the gang, one thing quickly becomes clear — this a tight-knit community that regularly and fiercely fights for survival.

Thus far, though, Cabral’s character is largely an enigma. He offers some excellent comedic relief in nearly every scene with his already-established one-liner, “My bad!” But, as the actor behind the biker explains, viewers are in for some dark surprises from Coco.

“It’s gonna be a tremendous drop that no one’s gonna see coming. It’s gonna be like, ‘Whoa’,” Cabral hinted at upcoming events. “I think he carries a lot of spirit within his character. It’s sometimes bad… you see this world from the other side but it’s gonna be hard to watch sometimes.”

However, according to the 34-year-old actor, the camaraderie and friendship depicted in the new show between him and his co-stars isn’t an act. 

“No matter whether we’re on set or whether out traveling together, once we would be together, it’s like, ‘This is the brother that I will ride or die for.’ That’s just how we felt. Because of that year and a half that we spent together working on this.”

Cabral also discussed just how unique and special Mayans M.C. is — an ambitious, sprawling show cast almost entirely with Latin American actors, not to mention all the Latin American talent behind the scenes.

Richard Cabral
Courtesy of FX

“There’s a lot riding on it. Not just people’s careers but I think for Latino content in a major way. Not just independent; in all shapes and forms,” he said, before adding. “But you don’t ever wanna get caught in the hype. If you get caught in the hype, you lose focus on the work.”

However, it should be noted that the pilot was watched by 6.8 million viewers, making it the most-watched premiere of 2018, according to CinemaBlend, a very promising start.

Cabral, who has served time in prison, also explained that the Mayans are meant to defy stigmas in Latin American communities and beyond, including ex-cons and individuals who don’t conform. 

“What I want the audience to really get is to really understand is the heart of this character and these characters,” he added. “Because a lot of times we’re quick to stereotype and to judge groups and people but we never give them a chance to really understand what these men went through. And that’s what I hope to achieve through Coco.”

According to Cabral, he was hired as much for his ability as he was for his history, allowing him to give the show’s creators, Kurt Sutter and Elgin James, as much authenticity as possible. 

“The beauty of [Sutter and James], they know this world, but they know there’s people on the team that know more about the world than them. So it was a collaborative effort," he said.

Much like the Mayans, a group of men working to carve out their own slice of the American dream, Cabral didn’t hesitate to explain what his journey, from time in gangs to life behind bars to walking red carpets, has taught him — and how he intends to make the most of it.

“For my children to never have to endure what I did. Never have to go through the hardships that I did. That’s my American dream,” he said. “And I will work and I will be able to provide for them and be able to give them a better future than I had… 'Cause I didn’t have it like that. And that’s the truth.”

Mayans M.C. airs on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. EST on FX.

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