“‘Sons’ has changed my life,” Rossi tells Zap2it, “for so many different reasons. That would take 45 interviews. Just little things, like, personally, every single way. I’m ecstatic with anything I do on the show. I’m so lucky, because I really enjoy going to work every day. These guys are my best friends on and off the set. We hang out all the time.”
For the show’s first three seasons, Rossi’s character, Juan Carlos “Juice” Ortiz, has been SAMCRO’s computer hacker and intelligence officer, if somewhat less capable in the field-operations area. But this season, Juice has found himself in some mighty hot water.
On the orders of Assistant U.S. Attorney Linc Potter (Ray McKinnon), whose ultimate stated target is the Real IRA, Roosevelt ordered Juice to take some of a Mexican cartel’s drugs that were in the club’s possession. Then when he was discovered, to kill the club member who stumbled across him.
Juice managed to convince the club that the dead man was the actual thief — but member Filip “Chibs” Telford (Tommy Flanagan) had some doubts.
Wracked with shame and fear at losing his place in the club, Juice attempted to hang himself with a chain. But a broken branch saved his life, and Chibs was the one to find him.
“What prompted Juice to start this, for lack of a better term, Shakespearean comedy of errors,” Rossi says, “is because the one thing in the world that’s more important to him than anything is, is the club. Juice doesn’t have the other family, the kids. My God, we’ve never even seen him with a girl. For him, the club is everything. He’s always been the loyal, happy-go-lucky guy … you’ve only seen the light side of him.
“And people have grown to love him. Then when this happened, I think everybody was, ‘Wait a second, no, no, wait, he’s not that guy. He’s the funny guy. No, wait.’ Then this entire thing started happening on Juice having a fear of losing what he loves more than anything in the world, which is really all he has.”
One thing that propelled Juice off the deep end was a moment when club president Clay (Ron Perlman) gave him a coveted “Men of Mayhem” patch, reserved for the most loyal members.
“The Clay moment is the breaking point,” Rossi says. “That’s it, right there. Then on top of it, Clay calls him ‘son’ — a guy who’s never had a father figure in his life. All he wanted from Clay, Tig, Bobby, these older guys, Piney, was acceptance and guidance. Then he realized, ‘I can’t destroy this. I can’t ruin this.’ And there’s only one option, and he can’t even do that right.”
It seems the Irish are coming to meet the Mexicans, and Potter wants Juice’s help to take down the Real IRA and maybe save most of his club at the same time.
“I really can’t wait for you to see how everything goes,” he says. “I can’t say anything more. [Series creator Kurt Sutter] can just pop up on me anywhere and kill me, just cut my vocal chords.
“It’s just an interesting ride. I’m so lucky, and I’m so glad that people are digging it.”
And if you’re wondering if New Yorker Rossi actually rides a motorcycle, the answer is yes — more or less.
“I designed my own bike last year,” he says. “I worked with mechanics in building a custom bike. It’s got a Kraft Tech frame, a Harley engine. It’s all different things, an Indian Larry tank, all these different companies mixed together.
“I would say, as of right now, it’s one of the biggest mistakes I ever made in my life. I’ve had it a year; I’ve ridden it, I just remembered, three times. Did you ever see the movie ‘The Money Pit,’ with Tom Hanks? Yeah, yeah.”