Theo Rossi ditched his leather jacket for a suit and cool pair of Ray Bans. Now, the Sons of Anarchy veteran is ready to talk about his new role as Shades in Marvel's Luke Cage, and compare him to his old character Juice.
In Luke Cage, Shades finds himself at the center of Luke's wrath. It's not until later on that he discovers the bulletproof superhero is actually his old prison nemesis he presumed was dead. The two share an interesting past that helps to mold both their futures.
"This is really the origin of Luke's story, and as we find out more about him, we find out more about Shades," Rossi said. "They've both shaped who each other is. When we first met Luke, we were looking at it through Jessica's eyes [on Jessica Jones]. There were never scenes with Luke without Jessica. It was all through her vision. Now, we're seeing Luke step into this world, his world, and all these nefarious characters that come with it around him and how they affect his journey."
In Sons of Anarchy, Juice often found himself playing the victim and bowing to the will of others. Not so in Luke Cage. As Shades, he's the man in charge and the one pulling the strings.
"Shades is this guy who has been there from the beginning, has a total agenda the second he steps in, and for anyone who's there or gets in his way or happens to be a part of it, how he uses that, he's a chess player," Rossi says. "He's going to get to where he has to go, no matter what."
But how to Shades and Juice stack up against each other? One thing's for sure, while Shades does his fair share of killing in Luke Cage, Juice in Sons of Anarchy takes many, many more lives.
"Shades is a bad guy. I don't think Juice was ever a bad guy," Rossi said. "I just found out recently, someone told me that he actually had taken more lives than almost any character and you never think of him like that. Not counting any of the giant shootouts, but he did single-handedly take out the most people, which is so weird because I always looked at him like a victim. He was the nice guy, so it's shocking that someone said that. I'm going to have to fact check that and see when I go back in 20 years and rewatch the entire run."
"Where someone like Juice was kind of side-stepping and moving backwards and everything was happening to him, this is a guy who is so incredibly intelligent and a giant chess player," Rossi said. "I love how [executive producer] Cheo [Coker] compared him to Littlefinger [Aidan Gillen] from Game of Thrones. He's dictating. He has a plan. He does his best to execute those plans. He's very cerebral. He's such an interesting character to take on because he's doing so much sometimes, and when you start to see it all come together as this giant story, you realize just how smart and calculating he's been this entire time."
Shades is a layered and multi-faceted character who always has his own secret plan brewing in the back of his mind. With Shades, it's not always "what you see is what you get." He's a dangerous character, and one not to be taken lightly.
"Things will definitely change when Diamondback arrives," Rossi said. "There's been a lot of talk and everything is for a reason. Everything is calculated. But Shades 100 percent has his own endgame. What parts of it you see and what parts of it are coming from Diamondback, all will be answered by the end of the first season. But you've just seen the opening of a few pages of the book, and these seasons are like chapters. Sons of Anarchy was a seven-chapter book with an opening and an ending. Who knows how many chapters this will be once you add in all the other shows. So for certain characters, this is just the beginning."
"It was groundbreaking in '72 and it's groundbreaking now," Rossi said of Luke Cage. "I love the reaction it's been getting. And this is just such a rich world, not just the characters but the music, the backdrop, the scenery, the clothing, everything. It's an extremely cool show. Everyone's going to feel very unhip if they don't watch it. You have to be a part of it and you're cooler for just being a part of it. It's the best material on television right now."
If you're a Sons of Anarchy fan and you haven't seen Luke Cage yet, you should. It's executed incredibly well and Rossi portrays a fascinatingly nefarious character.
If you have seen Sons of Anarchy and Luke Cage, which character did you like better: Shades or Juice?