How Fear Informs JD Pardo’s Performance on ‘Mayans M.C.’

Article Image
Photo Source: Prashant Gupta / FX

JD Pardo, star of FX and Kurt Sutter’s “Mayans M.C.” (the season’s highest-rated new cable series), fully commits to every role he plays, whether that be through changing his physical appearance (such as the way Pardo bulked up to play the series’ lead, Mayans rookie Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes) or doing extensive research. “If it’s something you want to do, wholeheartedly do it,” the 38-year-old actor advised during our Oct. 16 sit-down.

Being at the top of the call sheet means greater responsibilities.
“Being the leading man is not just about your acting. It’s about your responsibility to the crew and to the cast and to the set. You’re there to unite everybody. You’re the centerpiece, and so you have to breathe life into the crew and breathe life into the cast and make it a pleasant working atmosphere so that everyone will support you.”

You don’t need to go to acting school to get great training.
“The schooling [was] right in front of me [while watching] all of these great classic movies. I would watch movies and try to get the supplemental videotapes to watch the interviews and watch the directors talk about the actors and watch the actors talk about their process. And then I would read books. That’s where I would take little bits and pieces from the greats.”

Fully embrace the character you’re auditioning for.
“Be aware of what you’re bringing into the room. Be the character, because today there really isn’t time anymore—they don’t want to imagine [what you’ll look like as a character]. Give yourself an advantage in the room, because it really is about the room.”

Take control of your audition.
“The greatest piece of [audition] advice I would give is: It’s your time. You are on your time; it is not their time. You say the line when you feel like saying the line. They can say action—if you feel like you have to take a minute, then do that. It starts when you want it to start.”

You have to fully commit to acting as a career.
“I feel like I wasted so much time having a backup plan. I know that sounds funny, because there are no guarantees. [But] it wasn’t until I threw myself off that cliff and said, ‘There is no Plan B; this is my life, and I’m gonna live it and everything is 110 percent, as far as acting goes’—that’s when I started working and really started growing. Before that, it was one step forward, two steps back.”

You can use fear to your advantage.
“Fear. I’ve learned to use that as a motivating force in working. It’s that fear that says, ‘OK, study more. OK, prepare more. OK, lift more.’ And then they had to pull me back—they were like, ‘OK, dude, you’re coming on too strong, you’re getting a little too big, you gotta pull it back.’ I’d rather have to pull it back.”

Ready to get to work on an L.A. series? Los Angeles audition listings!