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 Mayans MC: What is the meaning of El Padrino?

Rivera and James confer on a scene in Mayans MC Pic credit - Prashant Gupta/FX
Rivera and James confer on a scene in Mayans MC. Pic credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

SLIGHT SPOILERS

Did you watch Mayans MC last night on FX? We watched it again because we are addicted to showrunners and writers Elgin James and Kurt Sutter’s authentic 1%er continuance of the Sons of Anarchy saga.

And despite the fact it is an outlaw story that stands alone, the SOA roots are deep and strong, as witnessed by a smattering of appearances in the premiere highlighted by Mayan chieftain Marcus Alvarez, played by actor Emilio Rivera.

You may have noticed Alvarez was called El Padrino, Spanish for Godfather, by his fellow Mayans. This is a title of immense respect as Alvarez created the Mayans and though he is not the president of the southern chapter, he is above all and consulted in big gang decisions and strategies.

The new story reverberates with authenticity. There’s a good reason.

A former gang member, showrunner Elgin James spent a year in prison in 2011 for extortion charges, right after his film Little Birds premiered at Sundance film festival. After he served his time, James connected with Sutter to continue the biker story after Sons wrapped. He went from being behind bars to co-creator and an executive producer credits for Mayans MC for FX.

Rivera is known as The Godfather or “El Padrino” in the new Mayans saga. His importance to the club down in the southern chapter is of great importance. And, like James, his path to this role was beset by challenges too.

Many fans know that Rivera was originally cast as a member of the Sons before being recast as Marcus Alvarez, the leader of the Mayans MC.

Sutter cast Rivera as Marcus Alvarez and wove his story deep into the SOA mythology. In past interviews, Sutter has alluded that there will be measured doses of SOA cast sprinkled in as and when the story demands their presence.

If you watched the premiere of Mayans MC, you saw Alvarez featured heavily, along with a cameo of Gemma Teller Morrow. Appearing in a flashback scene, Gemma’s moment reconfirmed that the Mayans presence in Stockton (NorCal) was significant, a location many SOA fans recognized.

James paid great homage to Rivera’s take on Alvarez and in an interview with Collider, saying of Rivera’s character: “People have been showing black and brown criminal characters forever, usually just as stereotypical, one-dimensional villains.

“The role that he had could have easily just been that, but he gave so much emotion and depth to it. He’s the reason why we even have our show.

“They wrote to that. It was the great Sons writers, of course, but it was also what Emilio did with it. He took something that could have been so cold-hearted, and he gave it so much warmth and humanity. I tell the actors, all the time, that the only reason we have a job is because of that dude.”

James went on to reference him as “El Padrino”. He said: “We’re very grateful for the work that he did…he really is the Godfather. We all call him El Padrino. We all call him the Godfather. He’s too humble to let us kiss the ring, but he’s the reason why I’m sitting here right now, which is great.”

It wasn’t all glitz, red carpet life and Hollywood glamour at the beginning for Rivera.

Emilio Rivera as Marcus Alvarez. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX
Emilio Rivera was cast as Marcus Alvarez, aka El Padrino. Pic credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

Growing up impoverished and in a tough neighborhood, Rivera resorted to some reckless and wild behaviors in his teen years. In recovery now for 21 years, he was fortunate to turn it around and discovered acting was his passion and where his talent shined.

And turn around he did, as Rivera’s credits include Steven Soderbergh’s award-winning film Traffic, David Ayer’s Street Kings and Michael Mann’s Collateral. He also appears in F. Gary Gray’s A Man Apart and Nick Lyon’s Bullet with SOA alum Danny Trejo, and just wrapped Rob Zombie’s Three From Hell, the final installment of his Devil’s Rejects films.

Make sure to tune in to next week’s episode 2 titled “Escorpion/Dzec” (find out about the Mayans MC episode names here) airing on September 11, 2018.

The Mayans want to find answers from a local crew as the Galindo factions both north and south of the border hit head-on. The episode was written by Kurt Sutter; directed by Norberto Barba.

Mayans MC airs on Tuesday nights on FX.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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