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This evening, FX airs the eighth episode of the seventh and final season of Sons of Anarchy. Only six remain, as the series comes to a violently wild close, and, surprisingly (to some), Theo Rossi's character "Juice" is still stickin' around. Although Rossi has appeared in a variety of other television shows and a couple movies, most notably Cloverfield, his most successful role has easily been his part in the emotional biker club thriller.
Now 39 years old, Rossi's looking to branch out into production with his new company Dos Dudes Pictures. Rossi came by the Complex L.A. offices (on his custom Harley-Davidson Street Bob, of course) to talk about what it's been like watching the final season of SOA, how it was working with Marilyn Manson, and the development of his new Staten Island-set movie Bad Hurt. Check out the full video above, and read about his obsession with Jordan sneakers and the New York Knicks below.
You said that acting wasn't always too difficult for you. What’s the hardest job you’ve ever had?
Well, for me, there are two totally different types. Physically, the hardest job I ever had was construction and laying carpets and building foundations. Any kinds of contracting work. It’s taxing, physically. Mentally, acting’s dependent on the character. I did an Olsen twins movie in 2004, it wasn’t that taxing on me, academically. I could figure it out mentally how to do the film. It was, "Ooh, that sandwich looks awesome!" But when you’re doing stuff that’s more investigating deeper things that a lot of people don’t ever want to investigate on a daily basis, the thought process of taking someone’s life, taking your own life, doing all that, there's a constant struggle for survival. Getting your mindset there to make it believable to people who are watching it, that’s pretty taxing.
You do Street Dog Defender, you do Staten Strong and you do the Boot Campaign. You also tweet a lot of positive things, like "#GoGetIt." Where does your positivity and willingness to help others stem from?
Jim Carrey said something to the effect of, "I wish everybody in the world can get all the things they dream of to see how absolutely fleeting they are and that it’s all about other stuff." The greatest currency in the world is giving back to people, giving people your time, standing up for something. For me, I chased for so long. I was chasing, chasing, chasing.
I had this moment when we were in the middle of [Sons of Anarchy] and I started seeing the positive impact. We went to Iraq and Kuwait with a few of the guys from the show. And I remember one of the soldiers saying exactly what I briefly touched on before. He said, “Your show got me through my deployment.” I was like, “What?" This guy just did six months in Afghanistan, and he’s talking about a TV show getting him through the worst time ever. He's in some remote village hiding out and freezing at night, hot during the day, with bullets flying by his face. So that changed everything for me. It was around that time where I realized that as long as I’m being given this spotlight, as long as I have a position where I can reach people, I’m going to do as many things as I can to do so.
The greatest currency in the world is giving back to people, giving people your time, standing up for something.
So it’s like Marlon Brando says that line in The Wild One. They say, “What are you rebelling against?” And he says “What do you got?” My big thing is people are like, "What charities do you support. I’m like, “What do you got?” 'Cause I will support literally anything if I feel that it’s doing good. I mean we just raised $165,000 for Kim Coates' daughter’s charity, One Heart Source, in one night. I think if you’re in this position where people are actually listening, or you have a couple hundred thousand followers on Twitter, or you have a TV show, and you could actually make a difference, you’re a fucking jackass if you don’t do it. I think you’re so fucking self-centered and I don’t know why.
So for me, I had to do something. If I could do a tweet that hits me while I’m running, because I go running every morning, that says, “You can do anything, you can do this," it’s what I need as much as they do. I don’t care if anybody reads it, retweets it, because I needed to say it. If one person writes me and goes, "You got me through my day," I’m like, "Oh, cool." It’s like Paul Newman. Paul Newman’s one of the greatest humans to ever live on this planet. It has nothing to do with the fact that he’s in some of the best movie probably ever made.
Or that he lived in Staten Island.
Or that he lived in Staten Island, because he couldn’t afford Manhattan. And obviously Newman’s Own is a great company because every single dollar was given back to charity, except for the operational cost. And the fact that he has camps set up all over the world, Paul Newman is one of those dudes. I don’t believe in idolizing, but if you want to emulate someone, phew, that’s the guy. He was a huge motivation for me.
Switching gears a little bit, how do you think Charlie Hunnam would’ve done in 50 Shades of Grey?
[Laughs.] I think he would do good in anything. That kid, you could put him in anything, a Wal-Mart commercial, it would be the biggest Wal-Mart commercial ever. There are just certain people who have that thing. I’ve never read the book, and I mean that, I just haven’t. I’m backed up on my reading, and that’s not been in the crate. I think he would’ve done really well if he wanted to do it, but he’s got so many. He’s playing King Arthur.
The weirdest thing about this business is they think you’re gonna jump right from one thing to the other. They don’t think about the preparation of it. But acting is one of those jobs that people still don’t perceive it as a job. Let me tell you something: I’ve done everything from laying carpets to living under the guise of illegality to do whatever. [Acting] is not a hard job, but it’s still a job. I do think actors are ridiculous when they complain. I think for Charlie, the one thing about him, besides being my brother, it was a smart choice, because he knew he couldn’t give it everything he needed to give it.
How would you do in 50 Shades of Grey?
Me? Oh man. I’d be exhausted. I don’t know it well enough to know what it is, but I don’t know. It seems very large. It’s a crazy fanbase. No, not for me.
You mentioned you’re big into shoes, how’d you get into Jordans?
Oh man, growing up in New York, I’m a born and bred sneakerhead. It’s nonsense. It’s like you’re born into it. It’s all about sneakers. For me, I’ve always had this massive love affair, mainly with Jordans. Except they got so popular and they killed me, because now it’s like you can never be a step ahead of the game with your Jordans. Everybody seems to have every pair of Jordans, every rich kid, so I’m trying to find something new. But I’m a big 1s and 3s guy, those are my two. Occasionally, I would rock a 4, but I’m 1s and 3s.
For Air Maxes, I like the 1s. I’m a big Air Max 1 guy, and that’s it. I’m like a Nike head to begin with in every way, but I just started wearing those Adidas, the really comfortable ones.
Those are crazy.
I’ve heard they were super comfortable.
Those are crazy shoes. I ordered a pair for my girl and I. And I said, "This sounds weird, but I want to buy these for everybody I know." And I literally bought 20 pairs for everyone, like my mom and everybody. I’m still getting them, they’re coming out with new colors. Once you’ve put 'em on, you’ve never worn sneakers like this. And Nike has their version, the Roshe, and they’re nothing like it. Adidas took it to another level.
I have a few of those, but I can’t wear sneakers out here. I wear sneakers when I ride in the morning, when I have to be in at work at like five in the morning, I’ll just wear sweatpants and Jordans. I bought a pair of, was it the 10s? I bought a pair to ride in, just a bigger, clunkier pair, 'cause the Jordans got so clunky after the 3s and 4s. I like smaller sneakers. I used to skate like crazy when I was a kid, so I used to wear Vans like crazy, and I don’t like giant sneakers. I see people wearing them and they’re ridiculous, but in New York, a lot more. Except when I go to Knick games, because you can’t wear sneakers if you go up to the suite. You have to wear boots. I wish they would change that rule.
Wait, what rule?
I'm strangely allowed to go into the 200 suite because of the show. Carmelo’s a crazy Sons fan, so I’m friends with a lot of guys on the Knicks. And I’m friends with the vice president, and Dolan who owns the Knicks and all that. So when I go to the games, if you go into the suite, you can only wear boots, you can’t wear sneakers. Except Tracy Morgan, he always wore sneakers, but nobody ever said anything. Chris Rock used to come in draped in the Adidas outfit, like the all-black Run-D.M.C. Adidas outfit, and again, nobody said anything. It’s Chris Rock. Me? Still can’t do that, unless I’m coming in with the tattoos on my head. So yeah, that’s the only place, but I usually wear sneakers everywhere.
You're a big Knicks fan I take it?
So I’m sure you’re happy that Melo’s back.
I am. I couldn’t imagine we would have to go on a full rebuild, but what I’m noticing with the Kansas City Royals in baseball is sometimes it’s not bad to have a young rebuilding team anymore, because it seems like people are getting soft when they have a lot of money. If that weren't the case, my team, the Yankees, the Angels, the Red Sox they all would have been winning the World Series at all times.
I’m gonna come in and be the best. And if you’re not the best, I’m not talking to you. If you’re not playing your best, you can’t sit near me. I love that. I love that competitive nature.
And in basketball, I believe the descent of this all started when the Lakers added Gary Payton, Karl Malone, and had this all-star team. You had big money contracts, big money team, you put it all together and you just don’t win. But you get these young teams like Oklahoma and they’re killing it. So if Melo passes the ball, and I’ve told him, if Melo passes the ball, if we get a big man, if we can grab some boards, we’ll be right. The East opened up a lot now. But for the Cavs, LeBron’s that guy. He’s the Jordan, he’s the guy. As Kobe got older, Lebron’s the guy. I don’t see anybody beating the Cavs.
Do you agree that Melo is the most underrated superstar?
I was about to agree, but it’s really hard to shoot 50 shots. You can’t shoot like that and not play defense. You can’t. LeBron doesn’t care if he scores 10 points or 60 points, he just wants to win. That’s a different mentality. You have to have that mentality in everything. In films and everything, you have to have that mentality. It’s not about the scoring title. Dan Marino’s the perfect example. You could have every damn record in the world, but they’re gonna be broken, and you don’t have the Super Bowl ring, and that’s all people care about. Championships are everything. Nobody remembers second place.
So it’s like, the most underrated superstar? It’s ridiculous, I wouldn’t even want to be known as the superstar. Who cares, as long as you’re getting it done? Don’t know me as the superstar, you know what I mean? I love Carmelo truly as a person. Him and La La, I love them. And I love him as a player. New York to me is the capital of the world, and it’s not because I grew up here. So when you’re in the Garden, the Mecca of sports, and you’re watching the Knicks kill it, it’s crazy to think about everybody.
ESPN also recently rated Kobe as the 40th best player in the league. What do you think of that?
That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. That is the last thing he needed. He is going to destroy people. He’ll play with no legs, even if he breaks everything. That’s the worst thing they could have said. Good for him, bad for everybody else. 39 players? That’s like almost the whole league it feels like. That means they’re saying people like DeAndre Jordan, who are they saying? Who are they saying that’s better than him?
I guess it’s just the age and injuries.
He could play every one of those people one-on-one and beat them. That’s ludicrous. I love Kobe, and it’s hard because I love the Showtime Lakers from when I was young and a lot of people want to hate on Kobe. I don’t know why people want to hate on someone who is so serious. He said it many times, “Basketball’s my job. I’m not there to joke around, to make friends, I’m there to be the best at what I do.” I love that.
You gotta respect that.
Yeah, I’m gonna come in and be the best. And if you’re not the best, I’m not talking to you. If you’re not playing your best, you can’t sit near me. I love that. I love that competitive nature. That’s what the game is. You wouldn’t keep score if it wasn’t competitive. People hate that.
Tony Markovich is an editor at Complex. He tweets here.