Mayans MC: CM Punk On The Importance Of Telling His Character's Story

AEW wrestler CM Punk speaks with GameSpot about the honor of playing his Mayans MC character.


When AEW's CM Punk made his first appearance as Paul, Gilly's (Vincent "Rocco" Vargas) military veteran friend in Season 2 of FX's Mayans MC, it was a shock. Practically unannounced before airing, Punk's appearance on such a high-profile show was a delight for wrestling fans. Once the character's story started to unfold over the fourth and fifth episode of the season, though, it quickly became clear how important a story it was.

Paul, like many who have served in the military, is dealing with a pretty severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder. We see this first at a birthday party in Episode 4, "A Crow Flew By," when he loses his temper at another party guest. Of course, things took a much darker turn in Episode 5, "Death of the Virgin."

The following contains spoilers for the fifth episode of Mayans MC Season 4, "Death of the Virgin." If you've yet to watch the latest installment, you should stop reading now.

Early in the episode, Gilly is called to Paul's home, and it's unclear why. When he arrives, though, a horrific scene is unfolding. Paul has locked himself in a bedroom with his young son, begging the child to kill him. Seeing Punk's Paul grasping his child's hand as a knife is held to his throat is heartbreaking. His pleas to his wife and child to "just kill me" tell a heartbreaking story, but one that for some is all too real.

"Without getting too deep into it, I feel unfortunately, in this day and age, everybody knows somebody, right?" Punk told GameSpot of the uphill battle many veterans face when returning from war. "How often do you see prosthetic limbs and all these other things, and it still being this taboo thing you're not supposed to talk about or you don't talk about. I think it's pretty silly. So I did take this role very seriously."

Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, is like so many others with a personal connection to somebody who's served in the military. "I recognized the importance of it because my brother-in-law, my wife's brother, served and he was over there and just knowing some of the stories--again, without directly prying because it's not something you ask about so you can have a better grasp on the silly little television show you're doing--this is real-life stuff," he explained. "I took that very seriously."

"I feel super fortunate to be the guy to be the vehicle that they're using to tell this story," he added. "And it's my honor to be Paul."

And as Mayans MC showrunner Elgin James previously told GameSpot, Vargas and the others portraying vets in Episode 4 have previous military experiences, which they shared with the cast and crew.

"It's pretty beautiful; they're talking about their experience coming back and some of the challenges they face," James said. "So the weight was on Punk's shoulders to do this right. And of course, there's no one else you want that weight on because that dude's just a savage. He just brought it, not only physically but also emotionally."

Emotional is a great word for Punk's work on the show. It's also likely one of the last things anyone familiar with his in-ring career would expect from him.

"I'm looking to do outside-the-box things," he explained. "That's why Mayans are so perfect for me. You hear, 'Oh, CM Punk is going to be on Mayans' and you expect I'm wearing the leathers, I'm riding bikes, I'm shooting guns, doing drugs. And then there's a complete left turn and I'm playing this PTSD-stricken veteran. That's the kind of stuff I want to do."

As for whether we'll see Paul again on Mayans, it seems very likely, though Brooks is keeping his cards close to his vest. "When I showed up on Heels, it was supposed to be a one-off," he says. "Next thing you know I'm now working on Season 2, so hopefully I didn't shit the bed on Mayans and we'll be seeing a lot more."

Mayans MC airs Tuesdays on FX.

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