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Arriving on the film and television scene in 2001, actor Danny Pino has always been on the right side of the law. Best known for his roles in Cold Case as homicide detective Scotty Valens, then later on Law & Order: SVU as Detective Nick Amaro. When Pino left the series in 2015, an influx of fan threads begun streaming the internet as to why he had left – of which are still active today. To the excitement of fans, the award nominee has returned to the screen in his next action-packed series which has already garnered a huge fan base.

A spin-off of the highly successful Sons of Anarchy series, FX Networks and director Kurt Stutter has ushered in a new chapter of fresh conflict and a new drug cartel under Mayans M.C. Set in a post-Jax Teller world, Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes (JD Pardo) is fresh out of prison and a prospect in the Mayans M.C. charter on the Californian/Mexico border. Navigating his way through drug wars and his own personal agendas, the young recruit must work around authority figures to stay alive – and that’s where Danny Pino enters. Starring as head of the cartel ‘Miguel Galindo’, Pino makes the transition from ‘good guy’ to ‘bad guy’, though according to the 45-year-old in drug territory, “he is the ultimate authority”.

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Wrapping up the first season in late 2018, the highly anticipated second season is fast approaching and Pino’s advice is to “expect the unexpected”. If you haven’t seen it already catch all the bikie action with Mayans M.C. Season 1 new to DVD at JB HIFI. With teasers released as we speak, ICON caught up with Danny Pino for insider knowledge into the world of Mayans M.C.

ICON: Congratulations on the first season of Mayans M.C. How were you feeling before the series was first released in 2018?

Danny Pino: “I was incredibly excited. It’s a kind of show that is well written, it has a very strong ensemble, it is very creatively shot and I think it is pretty significant that it has a majority Latino cast.”

ICON: You began your career in acting in 2001. How has the industry changed in the last two decades?

DP: “I think it has changed in so many ways. Probably the most prominent change, the most sweeping change has been Netflix, Hulu, streaming sites. There are many more places producing very strong content … I feel that our industry in a lot of ways has expanded exponentially. I don’t know, there wasn’t a ‘Mayans M.C.’ when I first started working, there wasn’t an opening for a show like this. So, in a lot of ways there are a lot more opportunities to tell more varying stories, but I still think we’ve got a long way to go.”

ICON: In a past interview you said: “We may have taken the baton from ‘Sons of Anarchy’, but this race is different”. How does Mayans M.C. differ?

“…but the fact that [Mayans M.C.] is set on the border given the fluid politics that are present both on the US side and on the Mexican side is also a character in our show…”

DP: “We share the same DNA. I think there are so many aspects of our show that we’re honouring lineage coming from ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and the amazing things that they’ve accomplished on that show. And we respect that as well as the strong fan base that ‘Sons [of Anarchy]’ has, so I feel like what they’ve given up is a very strong foundation … but the fact that [Mayans M.C.] is set on the border given the fluid politics that are present both on the US side and on the Mexican side is also a character in our show – that is one of the biggest differences between the two shows.”

ICON: Can you describe your character?

DP: “He is the son of Jose Galindo who started the Galindo cartel. Miguel has split his time between Mexico and the States. He’s educated in the States and [went] to an ivy league school and studied business and when he returns … his father hands him the baton. Miguel is tasked with attempting to legitimise the business and to evolve the cartel into a legitimate enterprise … that’s the duality of his character. Not only is he attempting to legitimise the business but he also has to take care of the more illicit part of his industry in order to protect his family and to protect the people he does business with. And in addition to that he’s a family man … In a lot of ways I feel that he is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and sometimes I think that he does that with more skill than others.”

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ICON: You’ve starred as the good guy on television crime shows such as Law & Order in the past. What was the transition like playing the villain in Mayans M.C.?

“I don’t see him as a sociopath, I don’t see him as a psychopath. I see him as someone who is very deliberate and intelligent…”

DP: “Easy. I don’t see him as a villain. I don’t think Miguel is a villain. Listen, I know that he does a lot of reprehensible things but I think that he realises that the business he is in, is a business where violence, threats and fear take the place of the legal system. Take the place of law enforcement in order for him to make good on the contracts and agreements that he has … I don’t see him as a sociopath, I don’t see him as a psychopath. I see him as someone who is very deliberate and intelligent and does what should be done to protect his business, his family and his associates. It was also an easy transition, going from playing a detective to playing, to having a cartel only that, only because I feel that Miguel Galindo is the law. He is the ultimate authority on what is permissible and what isn’t. So, in a way he does enforce the law on the border.”

ICON: Did you find it difficult or uncomfortable at times portraying a character that is behind such gruesome crimes?

DP: “What I love about Miguel is that he is so far removed from who I am and in order to find a way into that character, it requires at least for me, copious amounts of reading and research and watching documentaries, reading articles, searching the internet for images to desensitise myself to what it really would be like to see those things … He’s so multi-faceted and so layered and he has knowledge of so many different things that I don’t… it’s certainly not the life that I’ve lead. So that in that way it is challenging to play those scenes with any kind of credibility, with any kind of nuance and understanding of what the implications are for what he’s doing but at the same time, with a certain ‘been there done that’ kind of a feel to him that’s not necessarily anything special. It’s just part of doing business …”

ICON: What is the on-set dynamic like between you and the other cast members. Is there that sense of brotherhood seen in season 1?

DP: “I love this cast … they’re so talented and I mean that in different ways. Not only are there great actors, painters, there are musicians, there are so many different nationalities in our show. It really shows that Latinos are certainly not monolithic. So yes, we’re friends, we’re friendly, we encourage one another, we support one another, it is an incredibly grateful ensemble, we understand how special it is, what we’re doing right now and none of us take it for granted.”

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ICON: Your character Miguel Galindo works on both sides of the California/Mexico border. What prominence does the issues surrounding border control have in 2019 have on the story line?

DP: “I can’t comment on the Season 2 story line … but what can I tell you is that our writers are incredibly aware and sensitive to the realities of what is currently happening on the border. And I think you’ll find that reflected in the scripts.”

ICON: Can you give fans any teaser or hints as to what Season 2 will entail?

DP: “Considering that I’ve only read the first two episodes I would say expect the unexpected. The way that these scripts are written and the way that our writers think is they love to set something up for everybody, even the actors, for all of us to feel that maybe the story is heading in one direction only to take the story to somewhere unexpected, deeper, more thoughtful and more complicated and that’s always a good sign for the cast and for our audience.”

Catch all the bikie action with Mayans M.C. Season 1 new to DVD at JB HIFI. Order it here.