When Manuel Garcia-Rulfo was cast to play charismatic defense attorney Mickey Haller from Michael Connelly’s “The Lincoln Lawyer” novels in a new Netflix series, he couldn’t help but think of Matthew McConaughey, who played the lawyer in a 2011 film.
“Talk about charm,” said Manuel Garcia-Rulfo of the Oscar winner. “I did think about it … because it is hard to have that shadow … but you just have to jump and do the best you can and hopefully people will enjoy it.”
Garcia-Rulfo didn’t have to worry. His version of Haller has been approved by critics and viewers — Netflix said the first season ranked high. The first five episodes of season two are now streaming. The remaining five episodes will drop in August.
In the series, Mickey is a Los Angeles attorney with a deep knowledge and respect for the law, who uses his understanding to think outside the box and find loopholes that help his clients. He also does a lot of his work from the back of a Lincoln while he’s chauffeured around LA by his trusted driver and confidante, Izzy (Jazz Raycole.) In season one, Mickey was returning to law after a number of setbacks including addiction and two divorces. He needed to course correct his reputation both professionally and personally. In season two he’s had some high-profile wins and is now the man of the hour.
Garcia-Rulfo credits Mickey’s team for helping his success, which besides Izzy include his second ex-wife Lorna (played by Becki Newton) and investigator Cisco (Angus Sampson.)
“Becki’s character Lorna is like the motor,” said Garcia-Rulfo. “If it wasn’t for her, I think he would be a great lawyer but a disaster. So I think it’s the people that surround him.”
“She’s not just a receptionist. She’s not just an ex-wife,” said Newton of Lorna. “She’s going to run the joint and has no problem asserting herself in what could be very intimidating situations. Lorna doesn’t apologize. She doesn’t feel like she doesn’t belong. In season two, she’s going to law school. I’ve loved that about her. She doesn’t shrink in any situation.”
She’s also created her own backstory for Lorna and Mickey — and why they work together despite their romantic past.
“I think it was clear to them probably very quickly they weren’t meant to be romantically linked forever, but they did love each other and needed to be in each other’s lives in a different way,” she said.
Mickey has other romantic entanglements including his first ex-wife, Maggie, played by Neve Campbell, the mother of his teenage daughter. The two have a will they/why won’t they storyline that is prevalent in the series.
Newton and Campbell have only shared one scene on the show together but there was no tension between the characters.
“I’ll never forget that day because I think on the page it would have been very easy to play these two women kind of catty because both had been married to the same man,” said Newton. “Neve said right away, ‘We’re not doing this scene like that. We’re two people concerned about someone but this isn’t about these two women fighting.’ I loved that she didn’t want to play any sort of stereotype about ex-wives fighting over one man.”
Like Mickey, Garcia-Rulfo is also in demand and busy. He’s about to begin shooting a new movie and just wrapped a thriller drama film based on a popular Mexican novel called “Pedro Paramo” with “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s” Tenoch Huerta.
“The Lincoln Lawyer” is also popular in Mexico where Garcia-Rulfo’s father is a dentist. The Volkswagen Beetle is a popular car in the country. Garcia-Rulfo says people now call his father “the dentist of The Beetles” because of his son’s role.
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