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[Warning: Spoilers for the Tuesday, Oct. 14 episode below.]
After Juice was betrayed by Gemma (Katey Sagal), he turns to the Mayans to help him escape the country. He even offers up club secrets in exchange for safe passage, a truly treacherous act in the eyes of any SAMCRO member. When the Mayans decide to turn over Juice to the club, he realizes that his death is imminent.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Rossi, who has also branched out as a film producer, about why Juice had to rat, why this episode is so important and his favorite fan reactions.
THR: What was your reaction when you first heard about Juice’s arc for the final season?
Rossi: It’s different than other seasons because it’s the final season, so you didn’t really need to go thoroughly into the broad strokes because whatever happens isn’t going to affect the next seasons. I put all my trust in [showrunner] Kurt [Sutter]. Whatever he wants me to do, I have no problems doing it. You’ll see — I say this every episode, but truly this is just the beginning. The progression of this, with losing Gemma as his only ally, the next step had to be “I have to get out of here.”
THR: What did you think of him offering to give up club intel for his escape?
Rossi: I don’t think he went there intentionally to trade club secrets. What he was hoping is that they would take the money and the car. If I had to justify why he did it, I would say it was: “I had that ace up my sleeve.” He had nowhere to go. He couldn’t go to the cops, there are very few gangs he could go to, and if he needed to pull the ace up the sleeve, he’d give them club intel.
THR: Your character has been separated from the rest of the guys this season. Was that tough?
Rossi: I don’t get to see them at all. It’s almost like being on a separate show. I go in when they’re leaving, or it’s just me working all day. It’s just me, occasionally with Katey [Sagal] and Jimmy [Smits], which was one of my favorite scenes all season. I got a taste of this in season four, when I’d be alone with the sheriff. And then in season five, I was away with Ron Perlman most of the time. But there’s a lot more story to be told.
THR: Tell me about that scene with Jimmy Smits in the closet. It seemed like a very poignant moment for Juice.
Rossi: There are so many tells in that scene. When he brings up the Gemma thing, what I love in that moment, is that Juice knows he could say something. He could say everything to Nero, possibly get out of this closet and settle everything. But he doesn’t, even though Gemma turned on him. And then the ending, which is the most poignant part. It’s something that no one wants to admit in this life: Everything they do is out of fear. What he admits is, “I’m a coward.” He did everything out of fear.
THR: How important was this episode to you?
Rossi: This was a really important episode for me. At first look, and this happens a lot on TV shows, the first thing is to go, “He talked to the Mayans! He gave them information!” But when you look at why, at how he got there, I think it’s an important episode. I think a reason why the fans have been so supportive of him is because as much as they want to be done with him and hate him, there’s something that’s pulling them in. And I think it’s because he’s never done anything maliciously. I think it’s a really important episode for Juice and tells a lot about him. I’m really excited for the fans — I think this is a really satisfying season.
THR: Juice has grown from the show’s comedic relief to this really complicated and polarizing character. What’s that been like for you?
Rossi: If you remember, there was this tremendous campaign to kill Clay [Perlman]. I remember being with Ron and saying, “this is so cool that you can invoke this from a character, that you can invoke this much vitriol. You’ve really done your job.” For me, what I love, and due to the social media age, what I love is everything from the “#SaveJuice” people ,who feel he’s this innocent ,who hasn’t done anything wrong, to the “I want him dead” people. The fact that we’re getting both sides to that — I love that. I was in Whole Foods last night and this girl came up to me and said, “I’m a huge Juice fan, but I want him dead.” I said “Why do you want him dead?” She goes, “Because he’s a rat. He ratted out the club. He betrayed them.” I said, “How?” And she says, “I … I don’t know. … I guess I don’t want him dead.” It was this three-second interaction that shows the brilliance of Kurt’s writing.
THR: Do you have plans for how you’ll watch the finale?
Rossi: I do. My Canadian brother Kim Coates has set something up. Last season, we watched the finale with like 500 fans, and I think we’re doing something five times the size in Canada. If that’s not the case, I will be in New York with my family and my dogs and everybody.
THR: You’ve also become a film producer. Tell me about the status of your projects?
Rossi: XYZ Films is positioning the film I produced, Bad Hurt, for its festival run. The response has been absolutely incredible, so we’re really excited for that. And right now we are actively closing in on our next film. And then, we’ve been meeting with a couple of TV networks for TV development.
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