Mayans MC breakout star JD Pardo started his career as a Tommy Hilfiger model, and then fans saw him play a half-vampire in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. Since then, he has thrived as a working actor in film and television. But, when the opportunity for a lead role in Mayans MC came along, the actor knew it could be a game changer.
Mayans MC is FX’s much-anticipated sequel to Sons of Anarchy, and Pardo wanted to be a part of it because it would be the first time he would be in a position where he could really show what he could do.
But, producers didn’t originally consider Pardo for the lead role of EZ Reyes, a college dropout who — after a series of life-altering run-ins with the law — joins the motorcycle club. Pardo says that he didn’t have “the swagger” that a Harley-straddling outlaw needs to have, and there was nothing about him that “screamed biker.”
Pardo told Entertainment Weekly that at the time of the audition, he was about 150 pounds, and wore jeans, boots, and a t-shirt, even though everyone else showed up “looking hardcore.” But, that wasn’t him, and he knew that going in. So, he asked himself what he could give to the character.
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This is all about YOU the fans! Thank you for watching our show. We want to continue to entertain the Sons of Anarchy fans and pick up new fans along the way. Hope you continue to ride with us throughout the season. We love, love, love you. See you tonight! ???? #mayansmc #sonsofanarchy #soa #motorcycle
Luckily, it was Pardo’s vulnerability that caught creator Kurt Sutter’s eye, and he encouraged Pardo to come back a different day to read for the role of EZ.
“I was like, ‘I can’t do that because it’s going to take me an hour and a half to get there and an hour and a half to get back. How about you just give me the [lines] now, I’ll go outside, and for 45 minutes I’ll study them. He said, ‘Let’s see what you got,’” revealed Pardo.
So, Pardo went outside to the parking lot and memorized seven pages of lines. Then, he went back in to see Sutter and spent 40 minutes with him. Pardo says that was the smartest thing he had ever done in his life. And, something told him to do it right then and not wait.
The 38-year-old actor still had a clean-cut appearance that he needed to change. So, with Pardo’s permission, he gained 30 pounds of weight and muscle over the next ten months to get that gritty biker look. He said he ate 7,000 calories a day, and it was horrible and painful. But, he used fear as a motivator. JD Pardo told himself that if he didn’t do it, they would find somebody else for the role.
New episodes of Mayans MC air Tuesday nights on FX.