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SOA's Charlie Hunnam Got An Ego Check Every Time He Filmed With Emilio Rivera

Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, and the rest of the "Sons of Anarchy" cast might play tough-as-nails individuals onscreen, but for the most part, they're not like that in real life. Sagal has yet to go after someone with a carving fork, and Hunnam isn't threatening stalkers in his spare time. 

However, some of the cast members — mainly Emilio Rivera, who plays Mayans president Marcus Alvarez — aren't too different from their "Sons of Anarchy" characters. During a cast Q&A, Hunnam revealed that it was sometimes difficult to work alongside Rivera because it spotlighted how the British actor was only pretending to be a bad guy. Once upon a time, Rivera actually lived a life of drugs and crime.

"I think Emilio's the guy who's most like his character on the show, and it's always tough to work with Emilio because we're a bunch of pussies," said Hunnam. He added, "[We're] trying to act like tough guys and Emilio's a really tough guy acting like himself and it always kind of shines the light on how soft we are when we have to go up against that guy."

For Rivera, the fictional violence of Charming used to be his reality; memories of which he was able to tap into when portraying the snakeskin boot-wearing M.C. leader.

Emilio Rivera used to lead a life of gangs, drugs, and violence

In an interview with Fox News, Emilio Rivera revealed that, prior to becoming an actor, he was heavily involved in the gang life of Frogtown, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California. Similar to Marcus Alvarez, he was usually the one in charge and demanded respect. However, he didn't always get it, especially from rival gangs: "I was being shot at [one day]. When you're getting shot at, you become like Spider-Man and I was gone!"

Rivera admitted that he used to be a pretty mean guy, and that his drug use — including heroin and crack cocaine — made his demeanor much worse. Eventually, after seeing too many friends get killed over senseless violence, he got sober and has been clean for over two decades. He said, "I should be dead by now. It's all a blessing, definitely a blessing."

During a cast Q&A, Ron Perlman, who plays Clay Morrow on "Sons of Anarchy," praised Rivera for his ability to turn a new leaf: "He had a life very similar to the one he plays on the show, and he turned so 180 against what he once was." Katey Sagal chimed in to say, "He's a tough guy, but he's a sweetheart."