SONS OF ANARCHY Interview – Jimmy Smits talks Motorcycles and Lightsabers

Jimmy Smits was kind enough to talk Sons of Anarchy with a group of  we, the web writers today and shared details of his experiences on the show, as well as a little about his time spent working with George Lucas in light of the deal just made with Disney.  Jimmy joined the cast of Sons of Anarchy in this, their fifth season as Nero Padilla, brothel owner, new SAMCRO partner and Gemma’s latest love interest.  He has been an amazing addition to the cast and though I don’t anticipate him making it beyond this season, I’m certainly not ready to see him go.  Smits was charming, personable and engaging, everything I had always seen and hoped to find him to be.

Jimmy became part of the Sons of Anarchy crew after he took part in a get together honoring director and producer Paris Barclay.  Smits had worked with Barclay on NYPD Blue and The West Wing.  He was asked if he would be interested in joining the cast of Sons and, being a fan of the show, he jumped at the chance.  Already knowing Barclay helped Smits to settle into the role comfortably, as did his experience working with Ron Perlman.  It comes as no surprise to long time fans that the cast is very close and works like a family.  Smits spoke about witnessing this in the emotional decision to let Opie go and how hard it was for everyone, even in read-throughs to lose Ryan Hurst‘s long running character.  He also talks about how disappointed he is not to have been able to work with Ryan on the show.

As I mentioned before Smits was already a fan of the show and felt that the show really elevated itself when it took the club to Ireland.  He loved the Irish storyline and was hooked from there on out.  Jimmy also spoke of the comparison to Hamlet and suggests that not only did Opie represent Horatio, but that Pope and Nero are also parts Horatio to Jax’s Hamlet.  Nero represents the exit strategy and Pope as a way to dig in further or as I have come to see them, Nero is the angel on Jax’s shoulder to Pope’s devil.

Regarding Gemma and Nero’s relationship, when asked why Nero didn’t heed Jax’s warning to stay away from his mom.  Smits’ take on Nero’s state of mind is that you can’t tell someone with an outlaw background not to to something and then really expect them not to do it.  In his estimation, that is a sure fire way to make them do what you don’t want. He feels that  Nero is there to “right” Gemma after a hard fall and being all but abandoned by her family.  When asked why Gemma doesn’t feel like she can be open with Nero about what she has to do with Clay, Smits says it’s because it traverses the bounds of their relationship.  He explains that you want a relationship to be like an artichoke, peeling the layers away.

When asked more about Nero’s background he reminds us that Nero has family in southern California, but that he has spent a lot of time in northern California where the club is based due to his stint in the penal system.  He can’t say there are any real similarities between himself and the character, but does say that he enjoys the research part of his job just as much as the acting.  For his role on Sons of Anarchy, Smits interviewed members of Latino motorcycle clubs and spent time with men who have been in prison in the past, finding out what their life inside was like, what tattoos mean and what life is like after being inside.  My favorite moment though was when he referenced Mi Familia, suggesting that he pulled from his character in this iconic film to help tackle the role of Nero.  It has always seemed to me as though Smits really cares about his characters and portraying them accurately and professionally, making sure to do them justice.  After hearing how seriously he takes his preparation, I feel that his characters really do mean something special to to him.

Mr. Smits also threw in a very interesting and rewarding anecdote about being part of Star Wars that tied in perfectly with his Sons of Anarchy experience.  When he was in talks with George Lucas about taking part in Star Wars, there came a time when Lucas told him, if we are going to take this any further, I need you to be okay with the fact that there will be no lightsaber in your future.  Similarly when his talks began with Sons of Anarchy, a point came in the discussion when Kurt Sutter told Smits that before they went any further, he needed to understand they weren’t talking about motorcycles.  The difference this time though was Smits had already started his motorcycle research and been taking riding lessons.   He’s still holding out hope that somehow he’ll be asked to get on a bike, suggesting maybe there is a Vespa in Nero’s future.

Though he couldn’t share anything about the storyline, which I appreciate greatly, he did reveal that a major twist including Nero is coming very soon, however he wouldn’t commit to calling it on next week.

Sons of Anarchy airs every Tuesday at 10PM E/P on FX.  For more Sons of Anarchy recaps and news click here.  Follow @CatEdison and @ScreenInvasion on Twitter and ‘Like’ Screen Invasion on Facebook for the best contests and pop culture news!

What do you think the twist Mr. Smits is referring to will be?  Share in the comments!


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Cat Edison

Cat Edison

Cat is an Austinite once removed with an affinity for film, TV, comics, graphic novels, and really anything she can read or watch. She gets emotionally invested in movie, television and literary characters, to an unhealthy degree. Cat has always had a passion for writing and there is little she loves more. Hopeful cynic and funny lady.