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MMAmania's Adam Guillen Jr. speaks with "Sons of Anarchy" star Theo Rossi to discuss mainstream acceptance for MMA, favorite fighters, media obligations and Emmy snubs.
In part one of our interview with "Sons of Anarchy" star Theo Rossi, we discussed the success of FX's hit series, his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) addiction, the promotions deal with Fox and how he has turned some of his co-stars onto the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA).
Rossi, who stars in "Sons of Anarchy," plays "Juice" a valued member of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original (SAMCRO) crew, says with the partnership between the UFC and Fox, many new fans have been turned onto the show and the sport of MMA.
Though both "Sons of Anarchy" and MMA are sometimes deemed too 'violent' and 'hardcore' to the outside viewer, Rossi feels once the outsider actually takes the time to sit down and watch an event or show, they can truly appreciate it for the 'art' they are and see that the violence with both the show and MMA are all secondary.
In part two of our interview with Theo, we discuss those views as well as the wide acceptance of "Son of Anarchy" and MMA in mainstream media, which fighters he likes to see fight inside the Octagon, as well as which guys on the UFC roster he feels can pull of a cameo on the hit FX show and even offers some words of advice to fighters who aren't to thrilled when it comes to media obligations.
Adam Guillen Jr. (MMAmania.com) What can we expect from "Juice" as season five progresses?
Theo Rossi: I'll put it like this, when you throw a ball up in the air, it has to come down eventually. So, ‘Juice' has done a lot of things, a lot of things have occurred and at one point or another, that's going to affect his psyche, like it already is affecting it. His journey, I'll just say, is amazing, and I can't wait for everybody to see it. It's tremendous, that's all I can say without giving too much away.
Adam Guillen Jr. (MMAmania.com): Do you envision a major film adaptation when the final season wraps much like other hit shows such as "Sex and The City" and "Entourage" have done or are doing?
Theo Rossi: Listen, "Sons" has changed my life from the day I stepped into that office in 08' with Kurt right up to this moment. So if they want to continue it would be fantastic, whatever they want to do. This is one of those shows where you go to work every day and you hope it goes forever. You know in this business that it doesn't, but you can only wish it does because it is just the perfect situation. Then it makes you think it will only come around once because it is the perfect situation in every aspect. So if it happens it would be great.
Adam Guillen Jr. (MMAmania.com): Have you ever received feedback from actual current motorcycle club members of the cast's portrayal of their lifestyle on the show?
Theo Rossi: Sure, all the time. I'm friends with all different MC's and I see a lot of them all of the time in my daily life. At the end of the day, the reason they love it so much and they watch and they are so behind it is because we're their show. We are their soap opera. Of course, because it's a television show it's a heightened reality. We get nothing but love from them, they love the show, they love it. They love the way we portray our characters and they all know someone like "Piney," like "Tig," or "Jax," so they love it.
Adam Guillen Jr. (MMAmania.com): With both the UFC and "Sons of Anarchy" at the top of their respective fields, MMA and television, right now, how satisfying is it to know they both are widely accepted and are so popular in mainstream media despite some saying they are too hardcore and violent?
Theo Rossi: I think the violence is so secondary in both of those examples. If people don't know anything about MMA, the first thing they say is, "It's so violent." What they don't realize is that most of these guys are bowing to each other, and hugging and respect each other more than anything. Most of them have trained together at some point in their lives or have trained at the same academy or dojo or somewhere. They know each other, they love each other and the respect each other. It's an art. The violence just happens to be part of that.
With our show, it's the same thing. Our show is so-not about violence, it's just in the world were portraying. Violence happens to be a part of it. So, I think that the violence for both of them is secondary and I think that's why people, when you get to know it and you don't just look at it from the outside and judge it, and I mean that for both "Sons" and for MMA, if you get to know about it and get a little bit of knowledge about either of them, you see it in a whole different light. They just hear it's so violent, but never get to watching it. It's not what you think it is, and that's the thing. Don't get me wrong, I mean you watch a fight like "Bigfoot" and Cain Velasquez, and you're like, it was one of the bloodiest fights I've ever seen in my life. I understand that, but it's secondary in both aspects.
Adam Guillen Jr. (MMAmania.com): Which MMA/UFC fighter would you say is your favorite to see compete or fight you seen inside the cage?
Theo Rossi: Right now, I really dig that kid Chris Weidman, he's tough and he's from New York. I really enjoy watching him. I mean, you immediately, bypass the people that are just so good at what they do like Jon Jones and Anderson Silva, you go to the guys, like, I just saw Cub Swanson knock out that Brazilian kid, Oliveira. He is fun to watch. "One Punch" Picket is fun to watch too, knocking people out with uppercuts. I think Royce (Gracie) was the best to watch, because, I mean, there were no weight classes, three fights in one night. Right now, there are so many good fighters. I am a big "Uncle Creepy" fan. I think Chiesa is such a fan favorite and Brendan Schaub, he is such a beast. I really, really dig, Rory MacDonald, and I think everyone is excited to see what he is going to do. I hope to see GSP and Anderson fight, but, I like Bonnar and I think that is going to be a bit of a harder fight than everybody is making it out to be. I just like seeing these guys and you can really see how hard they've trained and how into it they really are.
That's the presence that Dana and Lorenzo and ZUFFA in general have created. They created this, you gotta be ready, your shot can come at any time, someone can get hurt. There have been a lot of injuries lately and you just have to be ready when that phone call comes. Like Lavar Johnson, somebody that just steps right up and that is how you make your name. That's where Jon Jones made his name, by being ready at all times, so anybody and everybody has to be ready.
Adam Guillen Jr. (MMAmania.com): Do you see a fighter currently in the UFC that would be perfect to make a cameo on "Sons" and can pull of the "biker" look?
Theo Rossi: "Uncle Creepy" keeps saying that he wants to come on as like the hipster guy in one episode (laughs). Carwin can easily be the leader of a bad MC. "Big Country" looks like he just stepped off of a Harley at all times. "Rampage," with that look when he's walking, that's the most menacing look I've seen since Tyson. Liddell is a very natural fit for "Sons." I haven't met him yet, but he is one of my favorite fighters and I think he has the look of a stone cold killer, is Dan Henderson. He's got the iron jaw and he could easily play some type of assassin role on the show.
Adam Guillen Jr. (MMAmania.com): Ok, vice versa, if you had to pick a cast member "Sons," if they weren't acting, who would be the most probable person on the show that would make a good mixed martial artist?
Theo Rossi: Oh man, everyone has their aspects. I got to stick to the younger guys, they are all so tough. David Labrava, who plays "Happy," he is fantastic and he's been training martial arts for a long time. Charlie, who plays "Jax," he is just Newcastle tough. He is tough man. Him and I used to go at it on the punching bag machines at the bars that my cousin owned and he was unbeatable, he has such heavy, heavy hands. Boone, "Bobby Elvis," he is like a wall, you can't even move him. Opie is enormous, he's like 6'4, like 240 pounds and he's a beast. But, the toughest person to ever be on our show, period, is "Piney," William Lucking. I don't care how old he is, he was so tough, he was so big, I can only imagine him when he was in his twenties and thirties. He must have raised so much hell. He was just an utter beast. A young "Piney" I think would be lethal. He probably do like light heavyweight and middleweight back in the day and he would be lethal.
Adam Guillen Jr. (MMAmania.com): On to a disappointing note, many fans were upset that, despite pulling in record-breaking ratings and being one of the, if not the best series on television right now, you all were snubbed by the Emmy board this year, not garnering any nominations. Does it bother your or anyone one of the cast members?
Theo Rossi: Mainly for the crew. For us, does it bother us at all? No, not at all. The reason being is, we love what we do, we work our asses off every day. Kurt writes the best show on television, it's the best cast on television, and we know that. So, if other people don't, that's ok, it is not going to stop us from doing what we're doing and it's not going to ever deter us from trying to make the best show. We have the best fans in the world and we have the most committed fans in the world. I know that just from living in my everyday life. Listen, I have a lot of friends in this business who are in different shows and big movies and they never get the reaction we get. So, does it bother me? No, not at all. Does it bother anybody? No. Would it be nice for the crew? Sure, it would be great.
Adam Guillen Jr. (MMAmania.com): Finally, there are a select few MMA stars who dread doing the media rounds, being in the entertainment business yourself, and obviously having to do plenty of media tours, what advice would you give those who shun media duties and responsibilities as far as it pertains to their careers?
Theo Rossi: It's pretty simple. Number one, coming from someone like me, who started delivering newspapers when I was nine years old and has had every single job in between, this is a pretty easy gig. People want to talk to you and they want to hear your opinions on anything, I mean, I laid carpets every summer for years and put foundations in houses. This is pretty cush, compared to that. The other thing is, without the media, you don't have awareness of who you are or who the product is that your promoting, for whatever it is that you're doing. Whether it be a fight or television show.
To get awareness, when you need awareness of something that means that people like it and they pay for it, however way it is. Whether it be by getting cable or going to the movies to see you or coming to your fights. If you want to have money to buy milk, you have to do stuff like that. (Laughs) When you really put thought into it, when you really break it down, it's pretty easy and it's pretty cool. My advice would be, have fun, enjoy yourself, this is easy, you live once, talk to people. Everybody has the time. Let me tell you something, I'm probably one of the busiest people in the world, and right now, I'm talking MMA and I'm talking about "Sons" and I love it. Now, if they are talking about fighting and their career, they better love it, they better want to talk about it or they are in the wrong business.
Adam Guillen Jr. (MMAmania.com) Any parting words you would like to say to your fans?
Theo Rossi: Thank you so much for everything. I truly say this, we have the best fans in the world and just know that we try our best and we are so blessed with the support and we just love what we do and we love that they love it!
Bringing in and attracting 'new' fans such as Rossi as well as his co-stars was something I'm sure the head honchos over at ZUFFA headquarters had in mind when locking up a network deal, and apparently, it's working.
With "Son's of Anarchy" having such a huge following of loyal fans, it's not a bad thing when one of its stars such as Rossi, being a huge fan of the sport of MMA and the UFC, talks about it and shares his passion and love for it, too.
As the relationship between Fox and the UFC continues, expect more and more fans to be turned on to the sport, and the show.
FX put a bow on it's most recent offering this past weekend (Oct. 5, 2012) with UFC on FX 5: "Browne vs. Bigfoot" which saw Antonio Silva get back to his winning ways as he knocked out the previously undefeated Travis Browne in the very first round of their heavyweight main event.
The network will host it's next event, UFC on FX 6, on Dec. 14, 2012 and features a middleweight showdown between Hector Lombard and Rousimar Palhares as well as Ross Pearson taking on George Sotiropoulos in a collision of Ultimate Fighter (TUF) coaches.
You can follow Theo on Twitter @Theorossi and don't forget to tune in to a brand new episode of "Sons of Anarchy" tonight (Oct. 9, 2012) and every Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET only on FX.