Richard Cabral knows what you were thinking after last Sunday’s episode of American Crime: “‘Please don’t tell me that you hurt the little white boy.’ That’s what a couple people were saying on social media,'” he says. But, of course, Cabral’s character, farm crew chief Isaac, did hurt Connor Jessup’s Coy. Badly.
In this Sunday’s episode of the ABC drama, viewers see the aftermath of that beating — and of Luis (Benito Martinez) learning the fate of his son, Teo, who went missing while working on the farm.
Cabral, who received an Emmy nomination for Season 1 of the John Ridley anthology series, spoke to Yahoo TV about the dynamic between Isaac and Coy, and about his next high-profile gig — playing Johnny “El Coco” Cruz in FX’s much-anticipated Sons of Anarchy spinoff pilot, Mayans MC, which he begins filming Monday.
In your mind, why did Isaac beat Coy so brutally? What all was going through his mind?
Coy put me in a position. Once you see in episodes 2 and 3 my relationship with my brother [farm boss Diego, played by Clayton Cardenas], you get it. Even though I have my own free will, I’m still under my brother. I really had no way out. I’m trying to help out the kid, but I still have to pay respect to my brother and pay respect to the farm. I really had no other choice but to do that. There were no words, but my hope is that the audience understood through that look that, that was it. That was it.
Fans have different theories about the relationship Isaac wants with Coy. How do you view it?
How I saw it in the beginning, and I continue to see it: I was missing something in my life. My story is that yeah, I have my brother and I have this farm, but there’s a void. There’s a hole that I was trying to fill through true friendship, and as you see in the second and maybe in the beginning of the third episode, there’s a friendship that Coy and I are establishing. It’s really that. Obviously he’s missing something because he talks about his brother. In the first episode, he’s like, “I have a brother, but he’s not like yours.” That’s how I see it: We’re both missing something and we’re trying to fill it in. But due to the situation that we’re living in, stuff kinda hits the fan and it goes another route.
Let’s switch gears and talk Mayans MC. Cameras haven’t even rolled on that pilot, and there’s already fan art because SOA fans are so ready for this to become a series. What’s it like to have that huge fanbase for a pilot?
It’s surreal. What a beautiful thing to have that energy — I believe in energy — and our fans just believing in us. And all that is getting extended to [co-creators] Kurt Sutter and Elgin James. They’re feeling it. To be with your leadership, just excited and with that energy — that’s the type of set you want to work on. You want to work where everybody is on that level. I’ve been working on it going on three weeks with training on the Harleys and working on rehearsals. We haven’t even started [shooting], and it’s good! I’ve never worked on a set like this.