Editor’s Note: Get to Know… is an editorial series where we ask the faces of FX programming a wide spectrum of questions. Is there a certain FX actor, actress, writer or showrunner you’d like to see in the spotlight? Tweet your request @FXNetworks using the hashtag #FXGettoKnow and they might be featured in the next Get to Know...
Name: JD Pardo
Role: Ezekiel ‘EZ’ Reyes, FX's Mayans M.C.
Previous Work: American Dream, Clubhouse, A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story, Drive, The Burning Plain, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, Snitch, East Los High, The Messengers
Is there something in your past that influences your performances?
I think a couple of things. I think as a kid, I was always a dreamer. My parents were having some problems. My dad was a cop for over 30 years and a Marine for 30 years. They were having some problems and my mother used to take my sisters and I to the video store. And we used to rent movies and my sisters would rent like Anne of Green Gables or Ice Castles and my mom would rent Doctor Zhivago. And then I would rent like Karate Kid or Star Wars or something like that. And we would flip a coin to see who would go first. Sometimes I’d be last and I'd have to sit there through everybody else's movie and I loved it. Loved it. I have Anne of Green Gables in my collection now.
You discover that [acting] is not just about that darkness. It's also about craft and the appreciation of it.
So that influenced me a lot because I was so fascinated with the worlds and I just wanted to be a part of it. Then all of a sudden, my parents divorced and my dad left when I was 13, and so it was just myself and my two sisters and my mom. I was so heartbroken. And I was just at starting to try and figure out what it's like to be a man, so I felt very alone and very angry. Then I got into a theater class when I was in tenth grade, and it gave me a place to express myself and I could be anything on that stage. I just wanted to be anything that wasn't me. I fell in love with it and I was like, "I have to do this. I have to do this because I'm not going to survive. I'm just not going to make it." And it saved me. It really did. You discover that [acting] is not just about that darkness. It's also about craft and the appreciation of it. I would study filmmakers and great actors and I just love the craft. Then I got to see the effect it has on people when they're really in it. All of that stuff combined influences me.
If you weren't an actor, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be a musician. I started off with the piano when I was like seven years old or eight years old and I was very good. But in my neighborhood, it wasn't the most masculine thing to do. You gotta fight or play sports, so that's what I did. But I love music.
If you had to listen to like one type of music for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Classic rock. [When] I told my parents I was going to be an actor, I got cut off early from everything. And I was working at this trophy shop—just the owner and myself—and all he would allow in his store was classic rock. Everything from Fleetwood Mac to Janis Joplin to The Who to The Stones to Zeppelin. When you listen to those classic songs, there's a story with it and it means something and it wasn't just about having a hook and being pop-y for radio audiences. It just meant something.
When you're in a bad mood, what's one thing that always cheers you up?
My daughter. It doesn't matter how complicated things might get, when you see a child—and she's two-and-a-half—but when you see a child and they’re looking at things like it's not complicated, they're in the moment. And as quickly as they're sad, they can be happy. They can let go of it. She doesn't understand the concept of time. So, she gets very sad and heartbroken if I say "not now, tomorrow." But then she just wants my time. As long as I'm there, as long as I'm involved, then she's in.
Mayan M.C. airs Tuesdays at 10p on FX.