Manuel Garcia-Rulfo Returns as ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ (INTERVIEW)

Jul 5, 2023
11:31 AM

Manuel Garcia-Rulfo stars as Mickey Haller in ‘The Lincoln Lawyer.’ (Courtesy Of Netflix)

It’s not very often that someone quotes Mathew McConaughey to me.

But that’s what Manuel Garcia-Rulfo did in a recent conversation ahead of the second season of The Lincoln Lawyer. Garcia-Rulfo plays the titular character —the same role that McConaughey had in the 2011 movie version— and Garcia-Rulfo cites some wisdom from his predecessor, who had said that the character, Mickey Haller, “is the kind of guy that dances in the rain without getting wet.”

“He works best when he’s in chaos,” Garica-Rulfo adds, explaining how the fictional defense attorney gets himself into extreme situations—and doesn’t just escape unscathed but also enjoys himself along the way.

That pattern is in full effect in the second season of Netflix’s The Lincoln Lawyer, based on the novels by Michael Connelly. In this iteration, as quickly as Haller finds a new love interest, he becomes her defense attorney after she’s charged with a high-profile murder.


And, of course, that’s not the only chaos Haller courts. This is a guy who’s stayed decidedly close with not one but two ex-wives, still pinning for one and working with the other. It all makes for some gray ethical situations, but don’t expect Haller to become an anti-hero—he’s a fundamentally decent guy.

“He’s going always to look for the truth, and work towards truth, no matter what,” Garcia-Rulfo tells Latino rebels. “And that’s why he sometimes gets in trouble in personal relationships and stuff—to get to the truth, he does do some things that are off the book or not very conventional.”

In the second season —the first five episodes of which drop Thursday, July 6, with the rest of the 10-episode season coming on August 3— Haller’s unconventional ways lead him to figure out how to set up one of his own clients, not to mention having slept with another one.

The first season of Garcia-Rulfo’s The Lincoln Lawyer was a hit for Netflix, entering the top 10 in 90 countries and inspiring 260.53 million hours of watching in its first few weeks. Now its leading man is doing his best to build upon that success, using the character development and tone from the first season without being trapped by it.

“It’s a weird thing to start working or doing things to please an audience—that’s when everything falls down,” he says, sharing how the team would question if they were falling into fan service and then focused on building something unique.

Garcia-Rulfo believes they got somewhere new, with higher stakes, more cliffhangers, and a faster pace. The second season also has a little more Spanish and spends more time exploring Haller’s Latinidad.

Yes, the character’s Latino, and not just because Garcia-Rulfo is Mexican and has a light accent in English, but because the books were written that way—McConaughey’s casting was white-washing, erasing the mixed-Mexican background of a beloved character. I have to think part of that is Cuban-American Dailyn Rodriguez stepping in as co-showrunner, as the writing just contains more cultural nuance.

Garcia-Rulfo gives this example: “My mother comes into the show and is portrayed by this iconic Mexican actress, and she brings a little bit of what Latina mothers are, which are very tough. It’s a very cool chemistry between this son (who is trying) to deal with the ex-wife, the daughter, the big case, the love affair and all that, and then the mother comes—so that’s very funny.”

But don’t call it a Latino showThe Lincoln Lawyer has a hero who just happens to be a Latino. Haller’s background “just brings different tones or ways of doing things,” Garcia-Rulfo explains. “I personally like to see that in shows, if some characters are African American or Chinese or Mexican or whatever, integrar un poco (integrate a bit)… Because you learn from other cultures. It brings freshness.”

And isn’t it a breath of fresh air to see a Latino character take top billing on a well-promoted mainstream show? Mickey Haller is messy and charming and brilliant—he’s the type of extraordinary person who’s often the lead character in television shows and played by guys like Mathew McConaughey. But now it’s Manuel Garcia-Rulfo in the well-tailored suits and fancy cars. Now it’s a Mexican American who’s dancing in the rain without getting wet.

It’s a small step, but it’s an enjoyable one.


Cristina Escobar is the entertainment reporter for Latino Rebels. She is also the co-founder of, uplifting Latina and gender non-conforming Latinx perspectives in media. She’s a member of the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association and writes at the intersection of race, gender, and pop culture. Twitter: @cescobarandrade