'Sons of Anarchy' star Theo Rossi talks Juice's choice
Spoiler alert: The Dec. 2 episode of Sons of Anarchy found Juice (Theo Rossi) caught between the Triads and Tully (Marilyn Manson). Was the #SaveJuice movement successful yet again? Rossi talks Juice’s fate, that emotional scene with Jax in the previous episode, and his preferred choice of pie for future reference.
EW: In the end, Juice’s death at the hand of Tully was his choice, and by making it, he doesn’t betray SAMCRO. Is that how you looked at it?
THEO ROSSI: That’s a great way to look at it. I also look at it another way. This is the first choice he’s made on his own. No one pressured him into it. No Clay, no Gemma, no Jax, no Tully, no Aryans, no Chinese, no nobody. He said, “You know what, I’m exhausted. I’ve told everybody what I’ve had to tell them. I’ve gotten everything off my chest. My conscience is clear. It’s now time to end the madness. I’m done. This is it. I just want to finish my pie and let’s just end this.” That’s why he seems so happy and at peace. Because he’s exhausted by it all. His thought process was if he takes out Lin, then he’s going to be back in the club. Obviously that didn’t happen because of the whole nine-minute thing with Jax and telling him about Gemma [in episode 11]. After that, he says, “Well, Juice is never going back to the club. It doesn’t matter anymore.” Yes, if he kills Tully, it’s a betrayal of the club 100 percent, but at the same time, it’s just his decision. He finally made a choice, and his choice was just to go. I love that because he had to.
Paris Barclay, who directed this episode, said he felt like Juice eating the pie was him remembering the happiness of his youth. What did the pie symbolize to you in Juice’s mind?
It symbolizes everything. Kurt [Sutter] is such a genius for so many reasons, and when it comes to writing, there’s so many subtexts and undertones. At that moment, in this mayhem of prison, looking across from this heinous individual and looking around at how he got there, cherry pie is everything. It’s the hopes and dreams. It’s his full innocence. You picture him as a youth eating pie, and at all these celebratory things in your life, you eat pie. This was him saying, “I’m going to have my cake, my pie, and then that’s it. Then I’m going to go wherever that next place is. Hopefully it’s not here. Hopefully it’s not with Tully. And hopefully it’s not with Clay and everybody manipulating me.” I thought the, “Just let me finish my pie” line is such a classic line because he’s making his one last declaration to no one. It’s just himself. I never want to say that dying is celebratory, but you see the beginning of the episode, it’s like there’s no way out here. This is it.
When did you know Juice handing Tully the scalpel was the way he’d go out?
I had heard different versions of the way that it was all going to go down.
I’ll say it after it’s all done. Just different things. Some were satisfying. Some were different than I expected. When I read this, I thought it was great because everybody thinks it’s going to go a certain way, like Juice is going to kill Tully for sure. He killed Lin; he’s going to kill Tully. Maybe he’ll kill Marks. And then maybe he’ll be there in jail and just killing people when it ends. What kind of life is that when you think about it? Then, to have this Tully guy say, “You went out good, sweetheart…” I was really satisfied. I really think these last couple episodes have been so gratifying as a fan. What I love about Juice is that he’s evoked so much emotion in people, and I think it’s because he’s never made his own choice until now. People love him, and hate him, and after that scene with Jax [in episode 11], they love him again. They feel so bad for him. It’s been like, “Please, please, I love him so much. Kill Tully and survive.” Kurt says, “Well, we’re going to throw you this way.” That, to me, is really good storytelling.
Let’s talk about that scene with Charlie. Fans and critics alike could not stop raving about it. What have you enjoyed hearing most?
What was so powerful about it—and what the reaction has been—is it was just two characters talking and telling information. There was nobody blowing anything up, there was nobody cutting anybody’s arms off, there was nobody stabbing each other. It was just two people talking. Sometimes we forget how powerful that is with really, really, really good dialogue. What I’ve gotten from people is them saying that every pause, they were waiting for the next word. “What’s he going to say next? Oh my god, what’s going to happen?” There were people who went through 15 different emotions in the nine minutes. They were standing up and sitting down. There were people who wrote me on Twitter and Facebook who said they watched the scene like 20 times. That’s incredible for a TV show to evoke that kind of passion. You’d hear people be like, “Oh man, it was so cool when you jumped those cops and jumped on the bike.” There’s that kind of passion. But to have these kind of fans who are really into that giant explosion, adrenaline type stuff sit down and go, “Whoa, that was really heavy.” I had heavy dudes, people who don’t react like that, saying, “I couldn’t stop crying and I didn’t know why. I was a mess.” I have such a love for Juice. Because I’m a fan of the show, I look at him and I get mad at him, and happy for him, and sad for him. To see him get that moment to just say it all, to just lift that weight—god everybody loves that. If you notice, he almost has that smile at the end of the scene, because, “Oh, it’s all out there. I don’t have to hide it anymore.” That’s powerful stuff.
Charlie and I, we have a pretty similar way of going about things on the set. [Like] the characters, you keep your distance a little. Most of the time I was shooting, he wasn’t. Most of the time he’s shooting, I’m not. So we’re very separated since the end [of season 6]. Going and doing that scene, there was no rehearsal. There was just light it, set it up, let’s shoot it. I think we did two takes each only. It’s probably the shortest amount we’ve ever done. It was all right there. It was on the page and it was in the eyes. It was just a long time coming for us as these characters.
At what point did Juice decide to tell Jax everything? Because at first, you’re not sure he’s going to.
Yeah. It’s funny, because I haven’t said this out loud, but what crossed my mind as a character, as Juice sitting across from Jax, was that I don’t want Abel to be corrupted like us. If I can be any part responsible at all for this kid not going down the road of us, I’m going to tell. Because the second Jax mentions Abel is an innocent kid, and you’re the only one that can give me the answer and the only one who can help me figure it out, Juice just says, “Enough is enough.” First, Juice says, “I’m sorry about Abel,” and you still don’t think he’s going to tell Jax. He makes that choice after he thinks about this kid: Jax says about him being poked and prodded, having his brain twisted and asked all these questions when he’s the only one that’s right in this situation. To hear that maybe Abel can have a different life, that, I think, was the, “Just let it go, just let it out, it doesn’t matter anymore.”
As much as SAMCRO has meant to Juice, do you think he wishes he never got involved in the club? Or would he not have changed anything?
I think if he would’ve known the whole journey of Juice and the rest of these guys—that’s a pretty tumultuous few years of someone’s life. With the prison term, that’s three or four years. He needed a family of sorts. If it wasn’t them, it would’ve been someone else, somewhere else. What if he would’ve joined the military? You would’ve hoped he would join a Rotary Club. You would’ve hoped that he joined a Dungeons & Dragons thing, and he went every week and played Dungeons & Dragons. [Laughs] Look, everybody wants to belong to something. We’re pack animals. He needed to belong. This was just the one he happened to join. I don’t think he has any regrets. I haven’t thought about that, but I don’t think so. It didn’t go nearly the way he planned in his mind, but when does anything?
How did you get over the loss of Juice and these other characters? What do you recommend fans do?
What do I recommend you do, you mean? [Laughs] Here’s what I’d say, for Juice, it was knowing that it was the right time. When people say, “Well, don’t you want a happy ending?” I’d hate to say this, because he’s gone, but it was a happy ending. I’ve said from the beginning, “Peaceful. I wanted him to be at peace.” The way I get over it is by knowing that he was at peace. The way that the fans get over it? Oh man, every time somebody asks if you want any pie, just think about Juice at his happiest time. I don’t know when that was—I sometimes even forget when he used to be that happy-go-lucky guy. He’s always kind of been the puppy jumping at its owner. But I think this episode and the finale, there’s a lot going down. It’s going to take a long time for people to process. What they have to remember at the end of the day is these people are criminals. They do bad things. Whether it be their choice or not, every one of them, even the ones we think are good, do bad things. Karma is the biggest gangster of all. Eventually, things come back.
And since I suspect fans will now be sending you a slice of pie any time they see you in a restaurant, what is your preferred flavor?
[Laughs] If they send me a piece of pie…if we’re in New York, I’m always a cheesecake person. I love cheesecake. If I’m anywhere else in the world, I’m more pumpkin. Anything like that. I’m not a big apple pie person. I don’t like the big crusty pies.
The Sons of Anarchy series finale airs Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 10 p.m. ET on FX.
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