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By Suzanne

Theo Rossi

Interview with Theo Rossi of "Sons of Anarchy" on Syfy 9/28/11

FX NETWORK: Sons of Anarchy
September 28, 2011/1:00 p.m. EDT


Dominic Pagone – FX Network
Theo Rossi – “Juan Carlos ‘Juice’ Ortiz” / Sons of Anarchy


Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the Sons of Anarchy conference call with Theo Rossi. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question and answer session. As a reminder, today’s conference is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Dominic Pagone. Please go ahead.

D. Pagone Thank you and thank you everybody for joining us on today’s call with Mr. Theo Rossi. Theo, thank you for taking the time to be with us. As you know, Theo plays “Juan Carlos Ortiz,” a.k.a. “Juice” and Sons of Anarchy airs Tuesdays at 10 o’clock on FX. Let’s go ahead and get started with the questions.

Moderator Thank you and the first question comes from the line of Rosa Cordero with Please, go ahead.

R. Cordero Hi, Theo, thank you so much for talking with us today.

T. Rossi How are you?

R. Cordero Man, the SAMCRO guys are churning in some really murky waters this season. I’m really digging this show so far.

T. Rossi Yes, yes, it’s about to get—I’m so glad you are. It’s about to get real murky. Very murky, very crazy. It always is, but it’s really about to go to a whole different level starting next week.

R. Cordero That makes me excited. 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.

T. 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, you know, in episode three. You know Kurt’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, you know, not what anybody thinks, you know, like Kurt always does. Just really, 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.

R. Cordero Thank you so much.

Moderator Thank you. The next question comes from Kenn Gold with Media Boulevard. Please, go ahead.

K. Gold Hello, can you hear me?

Moderator Mr. Gold, your line is open.

K. Gold Hello, can you hear me?

T. Rossi Oh, I can hear you, yes.

K. Gold Okay. Sorry about that.

T. Rossi No, it’s quite alright.

K. Gold 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 and is there anything that you can—

T. 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 and I just—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 just think he is by far—and 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’s. It’s just great. It’s great. I’m excited for him.

K. Gold Really great. And as a follow-up, I would like you to talk about—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 with your—

T. 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—you know 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.

K. Gold Well great. Thank you so much.

T. Rossi Thank you.

Moderator And the next question comes from Melissa Girimonte with Please, go ahead.

M. Girimonte Hi Theo, it’s so great to speak to you today.

T. Rossi It’s great to speak to you, Melissa.

M. Girimonte I wanted to ask—I know a lot of actors and I was speaking with Kim Coates a couple of weeks ago talking about—

T. Rossi Oh, I’m sorry about that—

M. Girimonte He has nothing but great things to say about you.

T. Rossi Ah. Well, he really is truly one of my best friends. I can say that and he’s like a brother to me even though I bust his onions all the time. I love him.

M. Girimonte Yes, so in terms of your character, and 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?

T. 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.

So for me to create—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.

M. Girimonte Great. Thank you so much.

T. Rossi You’re very welcome.

Moderator And the next question comes from Amy Harrington with Pop Culture Passionistas. Please, go ahead.

A. Harrington Hi, thanks so much for your time today.

T. Rossi No, thanks for yours.

A. Harrington My pleasure. We were just wondering, were you really into this motorcycle culture before you got cast on the show?

T. Rossi I have such an incredible journey and story with this whole thing. My uncle who basically raised—you know, 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 it was—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.

A. Harrington That’s cool and what kind of feedback do you get from people who kind of live the lifestyle in the real world. Do they approach you?

T. Rossi I’ve never—I mean, 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 candy-… 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.

A. Harrington Well it’s well deserved. We wish you the best of luck with the season.

T. Rossi Thank you so much.

Moderator And the next question comes from the line of Nick Nunziata with Please, go ahead.

N. Nunziata Hey, Theo, how you doing man?

T. Rossi Hey, how are you?

N. Nunziata I’ve got two quickies for you: The first thing is that “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.

T. 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 you—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?

N. Nunziata Good luck rigging off that hook. The other thing I was going to say was in reference to the group of characters. I’m a big fan of character actors and I’ve been a fan of Ron Perlman and Kim Coates and Mark Boone Junior and Dayton Callie for a really long time. This show is like their coming out party. And—

T. Rossi … 142 movies and it’s you know—something—

N. Nunziata Yes, especially Perlman—yes—people without make-up on—just being—what’s it been like watching these guys get their moment in the sun finally?

T. Rossi Well, first of all, Perlman should always have make-up on because, I got to tell you—No, I mean, it’s so great. Like I was just saying to someone else, we’re so close and we hang out constantly and to a point of like people find it very odd when they see us out all the time together, because they don’t understand what’s going on. Especially if we’re on motorcycles and we pull up somewhere, they’re like, “What is happening here?”

I think it’s great. He is, you know, again, another one of my closest friends from the show—Kim and Ron. You actually just named three of my closest friends on the show and I think it’s amazing to them. I think it’s crazy that fans are now just realizing them. But, then if you look at someone like Kim Coates, you realize that he’s been in everything. You look at Perlman – I just read they’re remaking Beauty and the Beast. Look at that; these are the kind of shows he was already on. These are people who have been around ….

The greatest thing about this cast is they’re chameleons. Everybody is a chameleon. I mean, gosh, starting at the top, look at Katey, was from Married with Children to this. This is a cast full of chameleons and the greatest actors in the world, the people I respect in the history of acting from the beginning on it has been chameleons and that’s what he’s put—that’s what Kurt has put together here.

N. Nunziata What a great way to get your career moving to that direction too. Thanks so much man. We really love what you do.

T. Rossi Thank you so much.

Moderator And the next question comes from Margie McGrath with Spoiler TV. Please, go ahead.

M. McGrath Hi Theo, it’s really great to talk to you today.

T. Rossi It’s really great to talk to you.

M. McGrath Thanks. 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.

T. 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.

M. McGrath Okay, thanks so much.

Moderator And the next question comes from the line of Lena Lamoray with Please, go ahead.

L. Lamoray Theo, it’s a pleasure to talk with you.

T. Rossi It’s a pleasure to talk to you.

L. Lamoray This is an exciting season for “Juice” and with all the stress, I’m sure he’s … passages. Can you guys talk about an episode or a scene that was your favorite … ?

T. Rossi My favorite scene for “Juice” is what you’re saying? I’m sorry. My favorite scene—a lot of them are coming up. I’ve had a lot. Every scene I get to do with this character is my favorite. From the first. Really from the third episode of the first season with Kim Coates and the Dobermen to a million that I can … for this season. So, yes, I love everything the character gets to do.

L. Lamoray So, how do you feel about the choices that “Juice” has made so far regarding “Roosevelt”?

T. 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. You know—there’s just so much—I wish I could say so much more. When we talk at another time, I’ll be able to say more.

L. Lamoray Thank you.

Moderator And the next question comes from Jon Lachonis from TVOvermind. Please, go ahead.

J. Lachonis Hey Theo.

T. Rossi Hey, what’s up Jon?

J. Lachonis Hey. Well listen, some of us are up to episode six already, so like wow. It’s just amazing where your arc is going. But what a little bit is kind of a recurring on Sons of Anarchy is you have these really Shakespearian betrayals where it’s not really a self-serving betrayal. Sometimes it’s a little bit of each. You know, a little bit—

T. Rossi Right.

J. Lachonis … for the good of the person. I’m wondering if you guys actually—if that’s a conscious element on the show—is kind of incorporating these Shakespearian themes.

T. Rossi I really feel like, Jon, with Kurt, like you just said—the brilliance of it is I’m watching a lot of people discuss—you know, friends, family everything, the whole thing like “Clay” this year. Is “Clay” doing this for himself? Is he doing it for the good of the club? Is he doing it for the good of the guys, is he doing it—you know.

So, it’s always this argument. I think that a lot of people will have this same exact argument. You know what I mean? And just like people had this argument with “Tig” and people have this argument with “Opie.” “Tig” did assassinate a member’s wife. And people love him. Why? Because it was a mistake. It was this.

So, there are these things of what the brilliance of the writing is. These people need choices and most of them aren’t self-serving. They’re for the greater, you know, for the club, for the family, for everything around them. “Jax” gets put in that position, it feels like every minute. You know, is he making—he has to make choices not just for himself which he never seems to do. He’s making choices for his family and for his club.

And I think “Juice” definitely gets put in that position and I think that’s the brilliance of the writing. I mean, great writing is you can never define it and put in a box. And that’s what Kurt does so well.

J. Lachonis Excellent. And just did a quick follow-up—you know “Juice” has always been a very—had a specific presence on this show, but not like this season. What was your reaction when you found out that he was going to come out to the front?

T. Rossi Oh man, I want to say I was just excited for it. When Kurt sat me down before the season and basically gave me the run-down, and the broad of where we were going to go and what we were going to try to do with it if I was good enough to handle it. Basically, I was excited and I just love it. Like I’ve always said, and I’ve said this before, I’m a huge fan of the show from an outsider way. I’m a huge fan of the writing and I’m a huge fan of every actor on it, so to get to play in this world even more than I already have is great. It’s fantastic.

J. Lachonis Awesome.

Moderator And the next question comes from the line of Catherine Burk with Pop Culture Madness. Please, go ahead.

C. Burk Hey, Theo, how are you doing today?

T. Rossi Hi. How are you?

C. Burk Doing great. 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?

T. Rossi This show has changed my life in so many ways, I couldn’t even begin to—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.

Future things for me—someone who I’m with—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 it—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.

C. Burk Excellent, excellent. And just kind of like a follow-up to that. Hopefully this show goes on for seasons and seasons, and it looks like it so—

T. Rossi Twenty-two years we’re going to go. Twenty-two seasons they say.

C. Burk But, eventually, it will—not even to stop, but in the future, if you’re ever going to take on different roles in what sort of scenes or aspirations will you reflect on from the Sons of Anarchy and just kind of channel that to these different roles. Is there any like pleasant—something to reflect back on or maybe something that you use to feel yourself into these different roles?

T. Rossi Oh man. I get lucky enough in off seasons to do my little things here and there. I just did—you know I did a film last off season about crystal meth addiction called Meth Head you know—and this year we got a couple of things lined up. What I’ve learned, if the question is really what I’ve taken in my acting life from this show, what I’ve learned more than anything is to be around—as a young actor—to be around. You know a young actor who has been in the business ten years, but that’s almost considered ‘young’ these days—to be around guys, like Ron Perlman, Bill Lucking, Kim Coates, Tommy Flanagan, Katey Sagal—guys and girls who have been in this business for a very long time—to learn from them every day what to do, what not to do. To see how they navigated through their Hollywood life and to learn from that is invaluable. You can’t pay for that stuff. You can’t buy that stuff.

So what that’s taught me is how to handle myself as a person in this business. How not to be—listen, the fact that most actors talk and we are just blessed enough where every single person on our show is amazing and cool and down to earth. And to learn their work ethic there, the way they live their lives and the way they navigate through this world is something that I’ll never forget.

C. Burk Wow, that’s so … thank you for talking with us.

T. Rossi Thank you.

Moderator And we do have a follow-up question from Rosa Cordero with Please, go ahead.

R. Cordero Hi again, Theo.

T. Rossi Hi again. Hi.

R. Cordero Do you think one of my favorite characters—obviously, I’m a Latina, so I’m glad to see that there’s a character representing.

T. Rossi Ah, very nice, very nice.

R. Cordero So, but you’re not Hispanic, right?

T. Rossi Let me tell you—this is something that I’ve been getting asked a lot lately and this is—I’m going to totally answer it like this. I have probably about seven different ethnicities in me. I’m going to leave it up to people to determine what those are. My dog’s even trying to answer for me. I would say that I’ll leave it up to everybody else because it is such a huge part of this season. But, probably people would never assume a lot of the things I am. And that’s it. I am as mixed and ethnic in everything as they come. That’s where I’ll leave that.

R. Cordero No, that’s great and so, 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?

T. 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.

R. Cordero Awesome. Thank you so much again.

Moderator Thank you and we have no further questions in queue. Please, continue.

D. Pagone Great. Let’s go ahead and wrap it up Theo. Thanks again for taking the time and thank you again everybody for joining us and just keep watching. Stuff goes down.

T. Rossi And when he says, “stuff,” he means … goes down.

D. Pagone That’s right, but Theo can say that. I’m not going to. Alright thank you Dee-Dee.

Moderator Thank you, and ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for your participation and for using ATT Executive TeleConference.

T. Rossi Thank you.

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