Get ready to see a lot more of Juan Carlos “Juice” Ortiz.
With FX’s biker drama “Sons of Anarchy” revving up for its seventh and final season (premiering Tuesday night at 10 p.m.), Sons of Anarchy’s intelligence officer — whose well-meaning but ill-advised actions have done their fair share to keep the show’s chaos train rolling — plays a major part in the series’ last ride.
Ortiz’s exposure on the show is also ramping up in other ways — such as in an already infamous scene in which he gets in a workout without the encumbrance of so much as a jockstrap.
TheWrap spoke to Theo Rossi, who plays Ortiz on the series, to find out how hard Juice will get squeezed in the final season, how naked he’ll be, and other pressing topics.
TheWrap: First things first – Did you insist on doing the push-up scene in the premiere naked, or is that something that
Theo Rossi: [Laughs] No. Think about the history of this show — obviously, Kurt wrote that in. There was no insisting on that. That will be the hashtag: #nakedpushups. My mom at the premiere was pretty shocked by that.
The funny thing is, the only other actor I’ve seen do that on TV is [Rossi’s “Sons of Anarchy” costar]
You know what’s funny? Someone just referenced that. And I don’t know if it was as graphic as what they showed on mine, but yeah. And you know what? To be totally honest, that’s just the beginning. Juice seems to be quite nude this season. And that’s why, for me, when everybody was going crazy over that — I was like, ‘Oh, just wait.'”
Last season, Juice got entangled with Gemma at a time when she was making really bad decisions, and she certainly starts the new season making more bad decisions. Does Juice manage to disentangle himself from her this season?
One of the greatest things — you’ve gotta understand, I’m an enormous fan of the show, but even more importantly I’m an enormous fan of Katey (Sagal, who plays Gemma on the series). And when the whole Gemma and Juice thing started, it was so amazing, because you’re watching these two … they’re so messed up, that there’s this weird unholy alliance of them together. So with them now, every episode, as you’ll start to see, nobody knows what she’s going through and everybody’s very aware of what Juice is going through. And they’re both living minute by minute. Every time they get together there’s so much tension, because you just don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s been such a cool relationship to watch and how it all unfolds. I would say [Juice gets] very, very tangled [with Gemma].
Juice has almost been a goner on a number of occasions throughout the series, and he doesn’t seem to be making many new friends now. What are the odds that he survives through the final season?
Here’s what I would say, this is the truth. Everyone is banking on Juice getting killed. But you gotta look at his history, right? He always seems to kind of stay alive. So will this be his time? I’ll say this: His days are numbered, but in what way?
It certainly seems that any given “Sons” character has the potential to be killed off at any given moment on the series.
If you go back to Day One, ’08, and you told me that Opie, Tara, Clay, Half-Sack, Hale, Hale Jr., all these people were not gonna be there [now], everybody would go, ‘You’re crazy. These are all main people on this show.’ So how can anybody really guess what’s going to happen in the final season, when the cuffs are completely off Kurt? You know, when he’s just like, writing this masterpiece that he’s been wrapping up? I mean, you can’t guess. With Juice, it’s like … oh, man, he’s been in hot water since Season Four, and now here were are, Season Seven. So it’s really just one of those things that’s pretty fantastic to watch and it’s even more fantastic to play.
What would you say is the main theme of the final season of “Sons”?
Jax wants to know and resolve and tie up anything that has to do with the things that have been taken from him. And he’s going to do whatever it takes to get there. Putting all business and everything aside, it’s like, yes, there’s a plan, and this will all work for business, but the theme is, “I’m not gonna lose my club, and I’m not going to not avenge my wife’s death.” Now the trick is, what does he learn in the process of that? So it’s really just following his journey of seeking justice in a way, in his mind. And his justice is very different than the justice of, say, law enforcement. It’s taking anybody out in his path.
What’s your best memory from doing “Sons of Anarchy”?
What this show did for me and my best memory from it, is it totally reinvigorated my belief in storytelling on television — like, true storytelling. Shows like “Sons” and “Boardwalk” and “Breaking Bad” are shows that are really just fantastic storytelling, but at the same time, it’s these kind of blue-collar actors that are just moving forward and going there and working and having the time of their lives. It’s not like a lot of the stuff that I was seeing [before then]. It’s great, because it’s like going to work, and every week you’re on a high-wire, in a way. But you’re so excited for your next script because it’s so unpredictable.
I think there are two things that make the fans love this show so much. One, I do believe that we’re the most relatable and accessible cast on television. We’re really interactive with our fans, we go all over the world. They almost feel like they know us. And it’s also because we all truly love each other, we all hang out. We spend holidays together. And then, the other part, it’s also the unpredictability. I watch a lot of shows. Obviously, “Game of Thrones” is super-unpredictable. But I think with Kurt, it’s not necessarily the unpredictability of killing off characters. It’s the unpredictability of, everything you guess, it always goes the other way. Like, a situation or something happens and you’re like, ‘Wow, I didn’t see that coming!’ And I think that’s my greatest excitement of this show. Every script, everybody’s just so excited by every little thing that comes in. It’s never waned; it’s even more than it was in the first season. And that’s a real testament to what’s going on over there at FX and the show.
In addition to your acting, you have a production company and just finished a movie, “Bad Hurt.” What can you tell us about that?
It’s so cool. You get thrust into this world, and then you get all these amazing contacts. I’m one of those guys that I said from Day One, I used to like going to the movies every Monday and really getting into something and watching a film. And then that whole genre of giant tentpole movies came in which, me being a huge comic-book fan was really cool, but at the same time we started losing a lot of smaller films, we started losing films that were really story-driven and mirrored our real lives in a lot of ways. So I said, “Man, I wish there was more of this.”
I talked to my agents, talked to my manager and then I said, “Wait a second; in this life, if you want to do something, you have to create it yourself.” So I started my company and literally a month later we found a script that used to be a play and I just became so obsessed with it. I said, “Man, I want to make this film.” And before I knew it I was partnering with Emma Tillinger Koskoff, who was just nominated for the Academy Award for “Wolf of Wall Street,” and we produced the film, and it just was the greatest creative experience and business experience of my life. Now we’re fully done and we’re going to start hitting all the festivals, starting hopefully with Sundance … it’s just this amazing, real, sometimes hard to watch but hard-hitting film that we’re really excited about.
And now, because of that, we have two other films in development, we’re working on a television show, and a multitude of other things, and obviously it all derives from “Sons of Anarchy.”