“Juice” Theo Rossi talks MMA and season five of Sons of Anarchy

One of the hottest shows on television over the last few years has been Sons of Anarchy. If you are not familiar with the show, go and buy the DVDs today and reserve some time to get to know the club of bikers from Charming, California.

You have a couple of weeks to get caught up, as season five of the critically acclaimed show is set to premier on September 11th on FX. Now, in the interest of fairness, if you have not caught up to the rest of us, we must warn you, the following interview may contain spoilers from previous seasons. Do not fret, we will boldly warn you.

Jeremy Brand and Trevor Dueck (hosts of MMASucka Radio heard weekly on MMASucka.com) had actor Theo Rossi, who plays “Juice,” one of the patched members of Samcro, on MMASucka Radio this past week. It will go down as a Sucka classic, so we decided to transcribe the interview for your reading pleasure. We started off the show by introducing him as a ragin’ thespian.

Have you ever been called, “Ragin’ Thespian?”

That’s a first right there. It’s a first. It’s an honor, thank you.

How’s filming going? You had a pretty busy Season 4, has Season five been just as grueling for you?

I wouldn’t use the word grueling. When we’re in it – at the heart of our show, we’re just a grinding show. We’ve got a huge task and we do a lot of action. There’s a lot of stuff going on, so when we’re working, we’re working. We know that our seasons usually take around six months, and when we’re in it, we’re in it. We do seven-day episodes, we’re working fourteen-hour days, sometimes travel takes an hour there an hour back. So we’re in it. We’re on episode nine right now of Season 5 and it’s insane. I think people are going to lose it this year. In my mind, and for my money, I think it’s by far the best season. I thought last season was incredible, I’m not taking anything away from any other season, but this season is really different, really crazy, it’s great. I can’t wait for everybody to see it.

Your character really evolved in Season 4 and I think people are interested to see what happens with “Juice” in Season 5.

I was really lucky. Season 4, they took “Juice” to a whole different place. At the same time, took him to a whole different level. He was kind of this fun loving, new guy at the club who just wanted to make people laugh all the time and got put in these weird situations with Tig, with the dobermine, with the prison scenes and all these other weird things like a finger in the Irish guys bullet hole in his ass. Then all of a sudden, he starts flinching on everybody and you start to feel bad for the guy because he gets put in these really awkward situations due to his back-story and history. Now, just like life, that stuff has to play out and how it all builds up. Right now what’s going on with the show is we could go seven seasons; we could go eight seasons we don’t know. But, we do know that it’s not the first three anymore so things are starting to get resolved, things are kind of starting to go to the other side of the mountain now. It’s really crazy; it gets more chaotic every episode.

Have you been surprised with how well the show has been received by critics and how popular the series has become?

I remember when I first stepped on to that set and I saw this cast that Kurt [Sutter] had put together. Every actor that showed up was one of those actors that were one of your favorites in something they’ve done. Like, Oh my god, look at that guy, I know him from ‘Gladiator’ and I know him from ‘Waterworld’ and ‘Black Hawk Down’. There’s ‘Hellboy‘ and there’s ‘Married with Children’ and there’s “Green Street Hooligans,” It’s all-stars of character actors. You kind of knew right away that we had something special. From my mind, it’s the most talented group of actors on television as a whole. There is no weak link; everyone is really great at his or her role and really great at what they do. At the same time, you have these people who have never been leads and in the limelight, these are all character actors who just come to work and they always bring it every single time.

Did I think it was going to be like this? I don’t know. We did an event this weekend for the charity that I’m involved with called “Boot Campaign” and it was insane. Two thousand fans came out to support it and we really got to see how huge all of this was.

With the unpredictable nature of the show, do you ever go into work wondering if today was the day that you would suddenly get whacked?

WARNING SEASON FOUR SPOILER ALERT!

Well if we remember correctly, I was dangling from a tree at the end of one episode. You read that last line that says the branch broke and you’re like, “YES!” This is loosely based on Hamlet, eventually we all might go, who knows. The thing is, with the situations you’re put in, there are so many secrets with everybody, so of course there are always repercussions to actions. Every action has a reaction, what that reaction might be, I don’t know? I don’t think about it, I want to stick around as long as possible. Wherever it takes the story, whatever pushes the narrative; I’m down for. I just love the show either way, so whatever is best for the show.

Alright let’s move away from the show a little bit because one of the biggest reasons we brought you on the show was because you are a big fan of mixed martial arts and the UFC. Give us your thoughts on the recent cancellation of UFC 151 and Jon Jones.

I’m obviously an enormous MMA fan and I’ve become lucky enough to be able to call Dana White, my dear friend. I’m lucky enough (It’s so weird to even say it) that I train with the legend, Royce Gracie on a weekly basis, which is just so crazy. I go to every single fight that I can. Unless I’m working, I go. I was going to be at UFC 151 and I was really excited. I thought Hendo was going to really bring it to Jonnie Bones, I thought that was going to be a really good fight. Even though a lot of people were telling me different. What did I think?

When I look at a situation like that, I try to look at it from everybody’s perspective. I think everybody was right, in a way. I think you can look at it and say fighters fight, it doesn’t matter who’s in there, put ‘em in there and I’ll fight ‘em. That’s what fighters do, that’s what they get paid to do.

You should never have to scrap a whole card. I was literally working all week. My phone started blowing up with text messages from people being like, “Can you believe what’s happening?” And I didn’t even know. So, I go on twitter and you guys (MMASucka.com) were reporting stuff and a couple other people were and I was literally in the middle of doing scenes. I saw all this feed of what was going on and I couldn’t believe it. It felt like things were changing every hour. I kind of see everybody’s side here. So do I blame Jon Jones? No, I don’t blame him at all. Jones has got more at stake than anybody.

Chael, I love Chael. I was at the Silva fight and I was rooting for Chael. I think he’s great for the sport. He’s also a fantastic tv host. He’s great and a tremendous fighter. If I’m hearing correctly, that Chael was training with Henderson. I think Greg Jackson knew that and really that’s slightly unfair, if you think about it he kind of knew everything and he was almost preparing for him, almost like a second string player. Or an understudy in a play, who was kind of ready. At the same time, fighters fight.

It sucks that an event was cancelled because of the fighters on the under card who really rely on that money. But, I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault. I really don’t; I just think it’s a really weird situation. What’s even stranger to me is everyone else falling out after that. Ok, not taking the Chael fight, then Machida, then Shogun, that was this entire weird thing that kind of happened. I’m really waiting to see how it all pans out and I think it will hurt Jones’ image a little.

Chael’s got a lot to prove, he wasn’t happy with that Anderson fight and he had a lot to prove in that fight. He’s going to come out and who knows what’s going to happen with Jones when you put him on his back. It would have been a really interesting match-up.

If the cards are spread out more and they’re strong enough, maybe there are more fights like on the upcoming UFC on FOX card, If you lose a fight or if you lose a fighter and you have to approach somebody then it’s not even that big a deal. So, maybe by this happening other things will happen with everybody that will change a few things. Right now, Jon Jones is MMA, with that Nike deal it is a huge deal and bigger than anybody is giving him credit for. This is really where the sport crosses over and takes over boxing, which I believe it already has. This being the fastest growing sport in a lot of different places right now, with just the attention being paid to it.

Now that I’ve been going to every fight for a little while now, the people you’re seeing now is crazy. A lot of people are popping up at these things now and it’s funny because a lot of people are training; a lot of people are realizing about it and I think after what happened in that last Pacquaio fight; it brought a lot of people over to say, I’m not going to deal with that stuff anymore. It might be bad timing right now, with what happened with 151, but hopefully it will be made up. I’m sure if I know Dana the way I think I do, then it’s going to be made up. He gets what he wants.

MMASucka.com spoke with Royce Gracie a few weeks back and he told us that he was on set of SOA recently. You mention you train with him on a weekly basis, how did that all come into being?

I’ve trained boxing for a long, long time. I had to lose all this weight for this movie that I did and I just started running like a freak and I just wanted to get back into training. I was meeting all these people and I became friends with Urijah [Faber] and Dom [Cruz] and even Jay Glazer who has a gym down in Hollywood. Even Herb Dean would be like, “Hey come train at this place.” And everybody wanted me to go to different places. When you’re doing Sons, or anything else, like I started my own Production Company and they have all this other stuff going on. It becomes all encompassing trying to live a life and have any real time to train. It was easy for me to just get up and run for 8 miles and not worry about it.

What happened was; I was at an event and we always see the names of people who are sitting next to you. At one event I had GSP in front of me and I was like, “Oh my god, its GSP.” Then at one of the events, it was Royce Gracie. I was there with Jax [Charlie Hunnam] and Kim Coates who plays Tig. We just started talking and he was there with his son. I said, “Hey if you ever want to come by the set.” And it was like, that was it, he’s not going to call and he did. We just developed this friendship and we’ve been training ever since.

I try to go as many days as possible. We go to his garage, or we go down by my house, and we’ve met his two apprentices, the Jetson brothers. We will go to his black belts gyms when he’s not in town. He’s just an incredible dude and what you can learn from him in one two-hour session, might take you two months in another gym. He’s kind of got the keys to the kingdom…he knows it all. He’s just an incredible dude and he loves Sons of Anarchy, he literally loves it. We’ve got pictures of him sitting at the table and the President’s seat, him on Clay’s bike. It’s gotten me to where it’s all I want to do. Even going to the gym doesn’t seem normal anymore; I’ve got to just go roll on the mat for an hour with somebody than do that.

On the other hand, it’s inside that world, seeing what those guys go through and some of the stuff that as a fan you just aren’t aware of. That’s why 151 I kind of looked at in a very different way. At the end of the day, Dan Henderson was willing to fight with one leg. That just shows how old school he is. Who knows, somebody else could get hurt one of these days. We saw what happened with Dominick Cruz and look now [Renan] Barao is the champ, well the interim champ. He’s going to be super tough to beat. I love Dom; his speed is going to be a great fight with Barao.

When I first moved out to LA on October 31 of 1999, I was a waiter and a bartender in this bar on Sunset Blvd. I was there for three weeks and the first group of guys that came in were Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock, Tank Abbott, Kimo and the bouncers were like, “If those guys start fighting, I’m not doing anything.” I was like, “Well, who are they?” Then I started to learn about them and low and behold Tank was just getting ready to go. He wanted to fight everyone in the bar. We finally talked to him and we calmed him down. That was my whole introduction to the sport. That’s where I really started to watch it, because I met these guys and I wanted to know whom they were and what they do.

I’m just so proud of Dana and Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta. I think what they’ve done, especially in the last two-three years has been extraordinary and I tell them that every time I see them. Especially with the Anderson/Chael fight, I thought that was the pinnacle and this was going to go to a whole other level, so get on board or don’t get on board, but it’s going to be going with or without you. That’s why I love your guy’s twitter feed. You guys are always right on top of it and you kind of show all sides of the stories and you guys break the news and I love it.

Can you imagine if in 2013 we finally get to see a GSP vs. Anderson Silva?

It’s the Pacquaio vs. Mayweather; it’s the one that everyone dreams about seeing. It doesn’t matter their age. I hate when people are like they’re older; who cares, it’s GSP and Anderson Silva. It doesn’t matter when they fight, they could fight in twenty years; it’s still GSP and Anderson Silva. I think that it’s an extremely logical fight and I will sleep in the basement of the arena to be front or second row or wherever for that fight. I would just do anything to be there. I think it’s going to happen, because truly whom else does Anderson fight? Jones said they won’t fight each other, so whom does he fight? He’s not going to fight Nick Diaz or whoever wants to fight him, I know a lot of people want to fight him. He should probably fight Chris Weidman, he’s tough. That would be a great fight, but Anderson doesn’t need that fight; Weidman needs that fight. Anderson only wants to fight once a year, then yeah fight GSP, but GSP has to beat Condit first, that’s a great fight.

We love talking MMA with you but we before we end this, here is your chance to hype up the upcoming season of Sons of Anarchy starting on September 11th on FX. Go!

(SEASON FOUR SPOILER ALERT)

It sounds weird when people say it and I feel like Kim Coates would probably say a word like this, but I will give Kim full credit. Whether it be the Canadian in him or whatever, but it’s explosive. It is truly explosive. It’s internal again; it’s the club. It’s everything and it’s Jax as president. This is the first time they’ve seen someone different in that chair. Not just someone different, we’re seeing Jax, a guy who always wanted to be there. What does he do? What is he going to do with that power? Which way is he going to go? Is he going to become the guy who he’s always hated and wanted out of there, Clay Morrow? Or is he going to become the guy like his father? Who’s really been trying to distance himself from the way John Teller did things because he realized that didn’t work out. Either way, it doesn’t work out for him. Either way, he can’t win. How does Jackson Teller navigate through this? Then you have all of us and how do we navigate with him in that position. Kurt is a master, he’s a master of what he did this year. I truly can’t wait for everybody to see it. Every single episode plays like a finale, every one.

Check your local listings for Sons of Anarchy Season Five on September 11, 2012 on FX. Thanks to Theo Rossi for joining us on MMASucka Radio. You can listen to the full interview here on MMASucka Radio.

You can also follow Theo on Twitter @Theorossi

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