Antonio Jaramillo stays mum about his big episode of ‘Mayans M.C.’
Antonio Jaramillo chuckles when he’s asked about the October 29 episode of FX’s “Mayans M.C.,” the next chapter in Kurt Sutter’s award-winning show “Sons of Anarchy.”
His publicist dubs the episode Jaramillo’s “big episode,” and the actor, who was raised in San Diego, won’t say much more than that. Jaramillo stars as Michael “Riz” Ariza in the show that debuted to 2.53 million viewers.
“Everything about it is ‘big,’” Jaramillo says with a laugh. “Some people aren’t going to like it at all. They’ll be very upset about it. It’s going to get ugly.”
Set in a post-Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam on “Sons of Anarchy”) world, Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes (JD Pardo) is a prospect in the Mayans M.C. charter on the Cali/Mexi border. Once the golden boy, EZ is trying to reconcile with his brother “Angel” (Clayton Cardenas) while searching for the truth behind their mother’s death. Meanwhile, their father “Felipe” (Edward James Olmos) is struggling to lead his sons down the right path. “Riz” is “el secretario” and a “full-patch member” of the Mayans M.C., Santo Padre Charter.
The show boasts a mostly Hispanic cast, which Jaramillo says, makes it “spicy and a little more dangerous.”
“It’s really wonderful when people receive your work the way it’s been received,” he says. “People are digging it and enjoying it. When people accept what you do—whether you’re a lawyer, doctor, dishwasher or teacher—it feels good.”
He chalks up the success to the mystery that surround motorcycle clubs.
“The world of motorcycle clubs is unknown,” he says. “FX has been very supportive of the show and the quality is tremendous.”
“Riz,” whom Jaramillo describes as “cool, relaxed and chill,” has been embraced just as warmly.
“Some of the guys, they’re really tough and they always look like they’re about to kick someone’s butt,” he says. “I think Riz is cool. He has a different vibe than anybody else. He comes from a different world.
“All the other guys have gang-related tats. The ink on Riz is more spiritual—Bible Scriptures, a cross on his chest. He’s one of the spiritual ones.”
That tattoos were Jaramillo’s idea. Although he’s proud that the show’s staff took his suggestions seriously, he wishes the writers would delve into that side of his character a little deeper.
“When I met with the creators, they gave me the ideas they had,” Jaramillo says. “I told them I didn’t want to be this stereotypical tough guy on a motorcycle.
“He’s a guy who grew up in the church and was disillusioned by the church—not so much God and religion, but the abuses they have imposed on children. He disconnected from that and became a member of the motorcycle club. They liked it. Nobody has come in with that angle. They thought it was interesting.
“They also haven’t used it much, which is a little frustrating. Maybe they’ll do that later.”
Jaramillo was born in Tijuana to a young mother and father. He spent his formative years in an orphanage until he moved to San Diego as a teenager.
“My mom was a young mother with three kids,” says Jaramillo, whose parents lived in southern Mexico. “My brother was born, and my mom separated from my father.
“When she moved up north, she was too young with three kids. She couldn’t really support all three of us. So she put us in an orphanage about two hours from Tijuana. My sister stayed with her because she was a little girl. We spent most of our childhood there.”
At age 14, Jaramillo and his brother left the orphanage and found distant maternal relatives in San Diego. The reunion led to a safe, comfortable place to stay.
“We had a place to sleep, which was better than not having one,” Jaramillo says. “We had food. It was a difficult place, but we had a place to sleep and food in our tummy. It made me the person I am today. It is what it is. While I was living with relatives, I went to junior high and high school and attempted to go to college. That didn’t go so well.”
Jaramillo was always passion about the arts, especially music. When he was in his 20s, he was introduced to Anton Chekhov, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting.
Jaramillo was previously seen on NBC’s “Shades of Blue” alongside Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta. He was also on TNT’s “Dallas” and Universal Picture’s “Savages.” Other notable credits include USA’s “Burn Notice” and Fox’s “Lucifer.” Off-screen, Jaramillo was in the ensemble cast member of the Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale.
Also in his free time, he enjoys music, boxing, tennis and spending time with his children, a 9-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy, who’s autistic.
“It’s a difficult thing to deal with—more for him than anyone else,” he says with a sigh. “He has to deal with that for the rest of his life. It’s also difficult as a parent. I’m separated from his mom, so I don’t get to see him as much, but he’s doing well.”
When he has free time, he travels to San Diego to hang out with friends.
“I fish a lot,” he says. “My best friend lives in San Diego. I live in L.A. because that’s where the work is. But I love La Jolla, Encinitas and Old Town. It’s like home.”
“Mayans M.C.,” 10 p.m. Tuesdays on FX, fxnetworks.com/shows/mayans-mc