Sons of Anarchy continues Season 4 this week with Episode 4.5: Brick premiering Tuesday, October 4 at 10 PM ET on FX. Theo Rossi, who plays Juan Carlos Ortiz a.k.a. Juice, recently held a conference call to discuss what's in store for the rest of Sons of Anarchy Season 4. Here's what he had to say below.
I recently read that your mom said in an interview that your character is going to be taking a major turn this season. I was wondering if you could elaborate on that a little bit.
Theo Rossi: You know, I really wish I could elaborate on that. My mom is the best. She's so nuts. A major turn, that's funny, because she doesn't really know anything. So unless she knows more than I do... No, you know, listen, it's already been brought up in episode three. You know Kurt (Sutter)'s touching on an extremely important issue in the MC world and how it plays out. I think you know, is just going to be shocking, crazy, not what anybody thinks, like Kurt always does. Just blowing people's minds with this whole thing and it's funny from one scene in episode three, there's been so much talked about already about what goes on with racism and inside the motorcycle world. And "Juice" just happens to be at the epicenter of it. So, all I can say is that everything is tested throughout this season and not just with "Juice," but with all the relationships of these guys in this club. This entire season is about relationships. So this is just another one that will be shown.
It's so great to see "Juice" getting some more screen time here. I was wondering, you know, with the ensemble show, it's harder, maybe for some of the other actors who aren't in the what you call the focus cast to get their time, and I just wondered what surprises you the most about, I guess, evolution of the character over the four seasons.
Theo Rossi: I've been so lucky. Kurt has eleven series regulars to deal with. I've been really blessed and lucky with this character, with "Juice," because, through the first three seasons, I'd really gotten to do some pretty memorable stuff. Some really great memorable scenes that the fans seem to have loved and it's really shown this guy as the soldier that he is and what an enormous and integral part of the club he is even though we haven't really gone into his back story and really put him as the focus. So to now bring up this issue and to exploit on this story line, it's just the right time and I couldn't be happier. When Kurt told me what was going to go down before the season and how it was going to go, it's just great. Anytime Kurt writes anything for me, I'm more than pleased because I think it just shows in the ratings and the fans reactions and everything. There is no writer, there's no show running that delivers like Kurt. It's just great. It's great. I'm excited for him.
It seems like from the interviews I've seen and when I see you guys off the set and outside of the show, it seems like everybody gets along really well. Is it really kind of that family environment?
Theo Rossi: We've been getting asked this from day one and it's so crazy because every year I think, we're going to turn into this normal show where the people don't talk to each other and between takes they're on their BlackBerry's and iPhones and they really pretend they like each other at conferences and all that, but you know, behind their back, they hate each other. I've worked on thirty-something different TV shows and most of the people can't stand each other. We love each other. We literally hang out all the time. I live down the block from two of the actors who I'm with all the time. Even on our hiatuses, even on our breaks, we're always together, and we've become like this little family, and I think the reason being is Kurt put together this gritty bunch of actors, character actors who nobody acts like a star, nobody has that kind of attitude. It's a bunch of people who love to work, who enjoy watching each other work, who are normal, family-oriented hanging out every day-type people, and I think that's why the fans relate to us and I think that's why we all relate to each other. So, yes, it's completely true. We hang out all the time. That is not a lie and we're proud to say it.
I know a lot of actors create a back story for themselves to better portray a character. With the new info that you've learned about "Juice" over the past couple of episodes, do you find that it's changed how you portray him now or has it added anything to your performance as an actor?
Theo Rossi: You know, there is so much stuff coming up that I obviously can't say a lot. The whole story line really starts getting moving full steam in the next episode. Having someone like Kurt in charge and steering the boat and doing what he's doing, you get so much info from him before the season. He tells you a lot of stuff. I just trust in everything he does. Yes, I've created along the points of throughout the three seasons. The one thing I've always known about "Juice" was he was one of the newer guys; he was extremely, extremely loyal. He really wanted to emulate the older guys and at the same time was on this level with "Jax" and "Opie" as in age and he just really wanted to be hanging out with them. And I always felt like he was just this guy who was like so loyal and just wanted to do anything he can. So when things happened to him, whether it be when he got his cut taken in Season 3 or, you know, you always felt for the guy because it's almost like he didn't fit in in this world. He looks like he fits in it, but he's like such this lovable nice guy and gets to have these comedic things, whether it be sticking fingers in some Irish guy's ... or doing a jail scene. You have these things, so what I've created with him is just this thing of making him really relatable to people as in I wanted them to see that anybody can be-not anybody can be in a motorcycle club, but normal guys. You know guys who still have a heart and were funny and whatever. It wasn't just these rough and tough guys. So not saying he's not rough and tough, because he is, but we're lucky. Kurt seriously gives so much info to the actors and he's so great with that being an actor himself that he helps create the role.
Were you really into this motorcycle culture before you got cast on the show?
Theo Rossi: I have such an incredible journey and story with this whole thing. My uncle who basically helped in a big part of raising me from when I was young, had moved from California, and would just tell me these legendary stories of these motorcycle clubs that he was around and that he used to ride with and I'd sit there. And, he used to work in a prison and he had all these stories, and I would hear almost like these tales throughout my youth. And I heard all these different names and all these things and he used to ride and his dream was, before he passed, that we were going to ride together and this and that and we would just be riding in California. He had moved to New York from California. So, I was so intrigued that when I first read the pilot and when I first met with Kurt it was one of those moments where you feel everything is just happening for a reason. You know, when everything is supposed to be what it's supposed to be. Yes, I've always had a massive fascination with the modern day cowboys. Modern day outlaws or going against the system, and that's always been very intriguing to me.
What kind of feedback do you get from people who kind of live the lifestyle in the real world. Do they approach you?
Theo Rossi: I just got back from Vancouver two nights ago. Everywhere I go, I've been lucky. It's so amazing how people react to this show, to the characters. They almost feel like we're not real and then when they see us, they're like "Oh my God." You know, because they love this show so much, they believe everything that's happening in that world. It's unlike a lot of these procedural shows and a lot of those where they're so fake and all the show. Yes it's this high drama and it's this thing, but people relate to these guys and that's to the brilliance of the concept and the writing and all that. So, the response is just incredible from everybody. From the club world, from normal folks walking in the street to everybody, everybody. It's been incredible.
"Juice" has always been-regardless of the creepy and dangerous stuff he's gotten involved with-he always is kind of like a warm, bright spot. And the darkness that we're seeing you experience this season-and we've seen ahead a little bit, some of us, and we know how icky it gets. I just kind of want to get a vibe as to when Kurt broke the news to you about what the story arc was going to be and some of the depths you were going to have to plunge-how you reacted to it and how he presented it to you.
Theo Rossi: You know, we have a meeting before the season. Kurt is one of the few show runners that does that-actually sits down and talks to the actor alone and then with all of the other writers and basically tells you what he has in mind and what's going to go down. You hear it and, My God, when I heard mine and I knew what was going to happen and I got kind of like a loose kind of thing of what was going to go down, I was so excited and I thought it was brilliant because "Juice" is this really loveable-I can't believe how much I'm realizing it more and more after just really seeing people seeing that one scene in episode three. People are up in arms about a lot of different issue just from that one scene. So, when they see what's coming, I think that the way ["Juice"] handled it, I thought was so brilliant. I really did. And I'm not saying it because it's me, because I've always been a huge fan of this show not even being on it. I'm a huge fan of every single part about it. So, I just thought this was so brilliant because "Juice" is such a lovable character that a lot of people relate to. So when everything goes down, when this ball starts rolling, which it already has, I just think it's going to shock a lot of people and to me, isn't that the point of storytelling? Isn't that the point of television and great writing?
What do you think attracted "Juice" to the club? As you mentioned, he doesn't seem like the typical biker, so what is your opinion on that.
Theo Rossi: Funny, he definitely doesn't seem like the typical biker. The thing that attracted "Juice" to the club, I think, the one thing I have always put in my head and I think Kurt has definitely reassured me on it and will completely reassure definitely in this season, is he just wanted to be accepted. This is a guy who just needed to be accepted and we'll find out so much more about him in the next nine episodes, eight episodes, six episodes, five episodes, whatever. Basically, this is just a guy who needed to be accepted. And I think that when people join clubs as simple as a sorority or a fraternity, a football team, a baseball team, it's just-you want to be in a group. You want to be around people, you want to be with people and I've always sensed "Juice" as this socially awkward guy and he now gets to have this family, maybe, that he always wanted. So, we'll see. It's a great question. He's just-I just think acceptance more than anything is what "Juice" is looking for and what a lot of people are looking for.
So, how do you feel about the choices that "Juice" has made so far regarding "Roosevelt"?
Theo Rossi: It's just the beginning. There are so many more things to come that you guys I don't believe have seen. I don't think there have been any choices made, I would say. I wish I could say so much more. When we talk at another time, I'll be able to say more.
Personally, Sons of Anarchy is a step into a different world, I feel like, and something that the general public doesn't really know much about. So even watching the show I feel like it's really made it successful in that point. Has your own career with this show, has it changed your point of view at all with like family or unity or motorcycle gangs or anything like that?
Theo Rossi: This show has changed my life in so many ways, I couldn't even begin, from personally to career-wise to everything. I mean, we would have to have a lot of-we would have to sit down and have a long talk about how much this show has changed my life from the first second I met Kurt on the original pilot. It's just changed as in you know-it's fantastic. I mean, these are my best, these guys have become my best friends and my family and not just people who are in the cast, you know, people in the crew. I don't even know how to say it. My lifestyle, my life, everything has changed because of this show. Has it made me look different? Yes, it's changed everything for me, everything from this show. And I cannot thank every single part of Sons of Anarchy enough. And mainly, you know, Kurt and John Landgraf. This is the network. To me, there is no better network to work for for actors at all. And there is no better show on it. I've said it every single time I'm on the phone and I'll say this is the guy who just writes brilliant stuff, every single line, and is the president of a network who lets actors and showrunners do their thing. And I think that's why the show is so successful and I think that's why the network is so successful. And it's showing, by the fans, and it's fantastic.
I've been very interested in the character's back story so I love that you're saying that there is going to be more information on that coming up. I'm wondering if we're going to find out how a Latino ended up in Charming?
Theo Rossi: You're going to find out a lot. You're going to find out a lot of stuff and I wish that I could say a lot more. You're going to find out a lot of stuff and I really think you're going to love everything you're going to find out. I hope.