While the name Michael Irby might not immediately ring a bell, the Palm Springs-born character actor has amassed quite a number of acting credits, starting with his breakthrough role as Sergeant First Class Charles Grey in the CBS action-drama series The Unit. Currently doing double duty as Obispo “Bishop” Losa, motorcycle president in the FX series Mayans M.C. and New Age drug lord Cristobal Sifuentes in the HBO dark comedy Barry, Irby has also made his mark in a number of other television series including CSI: Cyber, True Detective, Seal Team and Line of Fire.
The following are a trio of projects the former Team USA soccer player wound up being involved in.
The Unit (2006 to 2009)
“[The Unit] was just a game-changer for me: Getting invited to be a part of the military community. Plus I met my brothers on that show—Dennis Haysbert, Robert Patrick and Max Martini. It was a big show for me. It was David Mamet. It was [producer] Shawn Ryan and CBS. Say no more. It was one of those jobs that really catapulted me to become a professional actor. I think we ended up doing about 69 episodes of that show and it really put me in a good place in my career. And it really reinstilled in me that I was making the right choices and that coming to Los Angeles was the right thing.”
“It was a turn-of-the-century jazz film that I’d been in between seasons two and three of The Unit. It was the early 1900s. The wardrobe, character and the story was amazing. But they ended up taking so long to make the movie, that they ended up recasting quite a few of the characters. It came out this year, but it wasn’t met with huge open arms. It’s a very specific kind of film, but it was still beautifully made. I shot that movie for five months down in North Carolina with Anthony Mackie, Wendell Pierce, Michael Rooker and Jackie Earle Hale. A lot of those people did not make it into the final cut of the film because the movie took about eight years to hit the screen. It was one of the most amazing experiences I had on a film that no one will ever see, which is kind of cathartic in that moment. There is something kind of spiritual about that. But that’s okay. No one can ever take it from me. No one can ever judge that performance. I know exactly what I accomplished there. It was a fascinating experience and one I’ll never forget.”
Mayans M.C. (2018 to present)
“The third favorite project I worked on would be what I’m doing right now—The Mayans, Bishop and being able to put on those boots, jeans and that cut and get on that motorcycle and be the president of an M.C. I always joke that I don’t mind being on a team, but I need to be the team captain (laughs). I just really love it. I feel like I’m on a team again and we’re just a bunch of dark, violent human beings being human. It’s top shelf man.”
Read LIW’s full interview with Michael Irby: Two Sides Of The Acting Coin