E! Q, Jon Ecker

USA

Jon Ecker can't help that casting directors look at him and see a bad boy—all evidence that we've since uncovered to the contrary notwithstanding.

"When I was first hired for the Queen of the South pilot, Narcos hadn't aired, so I knew it wasn't based on the Narcos character," the 34-year-old actor told E! News about scoring standout roles as drug trafficker The Lion on Narcos and now trafficker El Guero Davila on Queen of the South, which returns for its second season tonight on USA. "The universal acceptance about my ability to portray drug traffickers definitely made me question people's perception of me and laugh a bit."

This coming season, though, El Guero will have a chance to put his softer side on display.

Ecker described his character as "motivated by the adrenaline rush" until he met Alica Braga's Teresa, who also happens to be the filthy-rich head of one of the most powerful drug empires around.

"In the second season he's driven by a desire to get her back and to keep her safe," Ecker said. Once they get past the whole faking-his-own-death thing...

Meanwhile, still waters run deep for this onscreen tough guy, who was born in Texas and earned a degree in aquatic biology at UC Santa Barbara before pursuing acting full-time.

Talking about his first career passion, Ecker says he was "inspired by a desire at that time to just be out in nature and avoid something that would put me on a pathway to being in an office." When he was about 17 he got his diving certification and thought aquatic biology made sense as an academic pursuit.

"I worked as a research diver for five years and never once did it cross my mind to study acting," he said. But eventually, the family business—Dad is Brazilian-born telenovela star Guy Ecker—beckoned.

Queen of the South, Veronica Falcon, Joaquim de Almeida, Alice Braga, Hemky Madera, Jon Ecker, Peter Gadiot

Dennis Leupold/USA Network

"I took a year off to travel around," he recalled, "and ended up in an acting school on a whim. I thought it'd last a month, but I'm still rolling with it."

And how.

Ahead of tonight's premiere, Ecker took the time to fill out our E!Q, so if you're now planning your own deep dive into what makes the Queen of the South's newest star tick, there's no better place to start.

E! Q, Jon Ecker

USA

What time did you wake up this morning?ft;">7 a.m.

What size bed do you sleep in?ft;">Queen

E! Q, Jon Ecker

Who's the first person you talked to today?

My cat

What do you never leave the house without?

Snacks

Four wheels or two wheels?

Two

Dark Dusty Highways. ... #joshuatree #triumph

A post shared by Jon Ecker (@jonecker) on

Beach or mountains?

Mountains

Vacation or staycation?

Vacation

E! Q, Jon Ecker

Last movie that really made you laugh?

Silicon Valley. It's not a movie but I tend to watch a lot more TV than movies, so I can't think of the last movie I saw.

First acting job?

Niña de mi Corazón  

What's the last thing you Googled?

"How to solder antennae cable connections"

So he's handy, too.

Watch Queen of the South on Thursdays at 10 p.m. on USA.

(E! News and USA are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)

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