Danny Pino Tells Us Why His ‘Mayans M.C.’ Character Isn’t The ‘Karaoke Version’ Of ‘The Godfather’

When Mayans M.C. began riding last year, executive producers Kurt Sutter and Elgin James certainly made an interesting choice while casting Danny Pino, who plays drug lord Miguel Galindo. Pino may have seemed like an unlikely pick for those who know him best for long-term stints portaying detectives on Law and Order: SVU and Cold Case. Yet he slipped almost seamlessly into playing Miguel, a complex family man who wields both ruthless and empathetic edges to suit his purposes.

As Pino told us, this role was “everything he wanted” in a character, one who’s shaping up to be one of the most captivating players of this chapter in the Sons of Anarchy universe as it continues. Miguel’s second season is certainly proving to be an unpredictable one with Emilio Rivera‘s Marcus Alvarez by his side. Pino was gracious enough to chat with us about what makes his cartel kingpin tick while reflecting upon The Godfather comparisons and expressing how much he enjoys being a part of this ensemble cast.

I was wondering if a season 3 renewal would arrive in time to talk with you, but this season’s ratings seems like a good enough reason to celebrate.

I’m not aware of the ratings, are they pretty good?

They’re as solid as last season, if not better, so far.

We have some incredible fans, so it doesn’t surprise me, but I am very grateful.

You played a character involved in the drug trade on a few episodes of The Shield, and he was very different from Miguel Galindo. Then you dove into good-guy detectives on procedurals like SVU and Cold Case. Did you have any apprehension in moving back to the other side of the law?

Apprehension, probably, no. It was something I sought, something I welcomed and fought for. Going in to read for Miguel Galindo for Kurt and Elgin for Norberto Barba, who is our directing producer. It was a role that I really wanted to not only convince them that I could play but myself, too. That audition was instrumental not only in me gaining the confidence of playing a character who is so complex and so different from Nick Amaro and Scotty Valens from SVU and Cold Case, respectively, that it was as important for me to audition as it was for them to see me audition. To fill those shoes and convince myself that it was something that I could do, so apprehension is not the right word, maybe more along the lines of gaining confidence in playing the role. Miguel has a certain amount of confidence that is not unlike any multinational CEO that blended with his incredible intellect and strategic mind, along with the cunning that is required to run such an illicit business. All of those things, then put through the filter of a family man, who’s dedicated to his home, to his wife, to his child, to his mother. It makes for a pretty dynamic blend. And then you put that within the prism of Kurt Sutter and Elgin James and the world of Mayans M.C., and you put him into this amazing ensemble, this beautiful, strong, talented, diverse ensemble. It’s everything that I wanted upon leaving SVU.