If the name Michael Irby sounds familiar it's probably because he played a role on one of your favorite police or army dramas.
Irby portrays Obispo "Bishop" Losa, President of the Mayans Motorcycle Club and cousin of Marcus Alvarez. I had the opportunity to talk with Irby and discuss what he enjoys most about this new character.
He also provided readers with a tease as to what they can expect in the Season 1 finale as well as potential storylines for Season 2.
Enjoy the full interview below, which has been slightly modified for content.
I just wanted to start off by asking, what made you want to be a part of Mayans M.C., and more specifically play the character of Bishop?
It was Kurt Sutter. Being a fan of Sons of Anarchy and never actually getting to be on the show, I was a little bit pissed off that I never managed to get my way around over there. But it was actually a blessing because I was never supposed to be over there, I was supposed to be Bishop.
Bishop just stood out to me as a leader. Even though he's a leader of a gang, he's also a solo man on the open road. He's the leader of the pack, but I also kind of saw Bishop as a lone wolf.
Honestly, it was Kurt, it was FX and being the president of the M.C. that made me excited for the role.
Mayans M.C. is one of the few shows on TV right now that has a predominantly Latin American cast. How important is it to you and the rest of the cast and crew to be authentic when portraying Latin American culture?
I think that's why we brought Elgin on. It's very important to all of us in showing strong Latin blood and Latin flavor, especially because we don't get the opportunity to put that out there that much. Religion, that relationship between mother and father and family, is a big part of our show.
Eighty percent of our show has that connection between Latino friends and families that are so important in Latino communities.
We see the blood being a little thicker than the water. Sometimes that's not the best when dealing with the club, but as far Coco's relationship with his mother or EZ and Angel's relationship with Felipe, it's all very Latino.
I think we're all very proud to bring that to the table, at least I know I am.
Mayans M.C. is, of course, a spinoff of Sons of Anarchy. Some fans have made comparisons to Bishop and Clay because they were both Presidents of their club. Do you think they share any similarities or do you think they are actually quite different from each other?
I think they're quite different. I think what Clay was dealing with is quite different from what I'm dealing with, especially right now on Season 1. The M.C.'s already getting the squeeze from the cartel and I got a couple of rats in my cage.
Instantly I'm being pressured by my cousin Alvarez, wanting to make him proud and know that he's making the right decision by bringing me in and letting me run this charter.
Right off the bat, Bishop was trapped in a vice whereas on Sons, Clay was allowed to fly free for a little while. For Bishop, things are falling apart from the beginning.
Speaking of your cousin Alvarez, who is played by Emilio Rivera, was a major player on Sons of Anarchy. Did he give you and the rest of the cast some guidance before entering this motorcycle club world?
He's such an honest guy that he really didn't have to say much. It's just one of those things where we watch and just kind of take his lead. And him having that connection to Sons, he just has all these stories he drops along with these little words of wisdom.
Emilio brings so much to the table. He's going to be in it even more next season. He's excited and we're all excited and as far as teaching us, he's not really that type of guy.
In my opinion, the relationship between Alvarez and Bishop has sneakily become the heart of the show. Do you think their relationship and specifically, their backstory will be explored further on Season 2?
I definitely do. It's such a delicate relationship, it's almost that father-son relationship that Bishop never really had. Bishop didn't really have any family growing up, which is why Marcus called him up and asked him to join the M.C. I don't know if Bishop would be alive or a free man if it wasn't for Marcus Alvarez.
I guess that's why there is so much pride and protection of that relationship between Bishop and Alvarez. We're going to dive deeper into it on the next episode (Mayans M.C. Season 1 Episode 10) and even more on Season 2. I'm really looking forward to it.
Another one of the relationships I was intrigued by was the relationship between Bishop and Antonia, played by Alexandra Barretto.
I really enjoyed working with Alexandra, she brought so much to the table. I think through my backstory and the stuff I put on it, we kind of spoke about the relationship before the scene.
I think they were high school sweethearts and I think that I was probably not in the best light with her parents. Growing up in that community, it's so hard to get out of infected communities. You got to make sure you make all the right choices and Bishop probably wasn't making the right choices.
Our backstory is that I went away and joined the military, and after serving came back, got into some trouble and landed myself in prison. Antonia went to college and became mayor of Santo Padre. By the time I came back, she had already been married off and went on her way.
When I came back to Santo Padre, it kind of opened up our situation again. Hopefully, we'll be getting deeper into that next season because I know the audience and the fans really enjoyed that relationship.
You mention earlier that Bishop has a lot of rats in his cage. We all know that secrets in this motorcycle club world don't last very long. How do you think Bishop will react if he ever finds out about the secrets EZ and Angel have been keeping from him?
I don't think it's going to be great. It's almost like when your kid gets caught committing a crime, and you are like oh no, what are we going to do with you? You still love them, but you also want to kick the shit out of them.
Angel right now thinks he's doing it for the club, and I can't deny that or question that. I think Bishop would want to have a conversation bring it to the table and decide as a group what to do with them.
I'm the one who brought in Angel and I thought I was helping him out when he got out of prison, so I sponsored him when he joined the club. And when he asked me if he could bring his brother, I couldn't say no because I love these guys like my brothers and sons.
It's very hard to get integrated back into society when you have a record. All these guys, we're all misfits and rejects of society. At the end of the day, we're all a family. As far as Bishop is concerned, now he follows the idea of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer, especially when your enemy is possibly inside the club.
We'll see a little bit of that on Episode 10, and it'll also play a big part in Season 2.
Mayans M.C. Season 1 is wrapping up with the season finale airing this Tuesday, November 6. Has there been a particular scene or moment from Season 1 so far that stands out to you as a particular favorite?
The sit down on Episode 9 where most of the cast is sitting at the table at the casino. You never know what the show's going to bring. I've never worked with Sarah before, I've never been in the same room with that character before. I've never been in the same room with Adelita before.
We have never all been there together, and as much as we're all reading these scripts and meeting each other at table reads and social events when you are about to share the screen for the first time, you can never predict what's going to happen.
It was like a scene from a Quentin Tarantino film, everyone's got a gun on each other. There was so much energy in that room. I think Kurt and the writers knew where he wanted to go with that script, but he couldn't have predicted how great it was going to be.
There was a sense of danger throughout the scene, and as an actor, you can't help but love doing scenes like that one.
Is there anything that you would like to learn about Bishop next season that hasn't yet been explored?
As an actor, wherever we go, I'll do my best to hit it with a certain amount of curiosity, an open heart, and an open mind. In this upcoming episode, we see a different side to Bishop, one that we haven't seen before.
It's an emotional moment for someone who's been very controlled. He may have been pushed to the edge, and might possibly change the way he leads his gang of wolves.
We wouldn't be called TV Fanatic if we didn't try to get some sort of tease out of you. What can you share about Mayans M.C. Season 1 Episode 10?
It's such an eventful episode and there are so many things that I'm not allowed to share. All I can say is get your popcorn, hold onto your seat and enjoy this last episode. Some secrets will be revealed, and some storylines will come full circle and you'll have no idea how we got there.
Mayans M.C. Season 1 Finale airs on FX this Tuesday 10/9 C.
Brandon Viera is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.