The Squeeze is on Juice, ‘Sons of Anarchy’ star talks season 4 dilemma

Season 4 of “Sons of Anarchy” will shock you in the lengths SAMCRO member “Juan Carlos ‘Juice’ Ortiz” (Theo Rossi) goes to keep in good stead with the MC that apparently has a race clause in the charter fine print.

How and what he does is classified until air date, but suffice to say, Rockmond Dunbar’s steely gazed character Sheriff Roosevelt has pushed our normally happy-go-lucky Juice to the edges of sanity.

It will break your heart.

Theo spoke to journalists about this gut wrenching series of events coming in episodes five and six, where we witness desperation turn to damnation.

Rossi says of season four, “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.”

Oh yeah.

Monsters and Critics would have normally been on this call except we were in the air flying to our high school reunion while it went down. So #FAIL for me, but FX kindly sent the transcript and my dear friends made the call, so here is the credited Q&A:

Media Blvd.: It’s so great to see “Juice” getting some more screen time here.

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.  I’m excited for him. 

Media Blvd.- It seems like everybody gets along really well. Is it really kind of that family environment?

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.  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.

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.  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.  How did you reacted to Juice’s story arc when presented 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?

Spoiler TV: 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. 

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.  I just think acceptance more than anything is what “Juice” is looking for and what a lot of people are looking for.

Lena 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—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.

TVOvermind:  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 – is there a conscious element on the show of incorporating these Shakespearian themes?

T. Rossi  I really feel with Kurt, the brilliance of it is I’m watching a lot of people discuss—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… 

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. 

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, 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.  

TVOvermind: 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.

Pop Culture Madness: 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.   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.  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, 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.

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