Jimmy Smits has played characters on both sides of the law since the early 1980’s, and in his current role as Nero Padilla on “Sons of Anarchy” he has been living somewhere in the grey area. We spoke to Mr. Smits about the possibility of Nero putting a choke hold on Jax, his connection to Gemma, and what it’s like for Latinos in Hollywood today.
Nero has really started paying attention to Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and the dirty ways he’s been handling business matters . Where’s Nero’s head at this point?
“Just where [creator] Kurt Sutter likes to keep all of his characters—off kilter. [Nero] is navigating between what the character started out with was with this goal to have some kind of exit strategy, and that’s not working at all. And now it’s combined with this pull between his past and what the characters are each calling the streets and these new affiliations that he has with the Sons, and specifically with Gemma (Katey Sagal) and Jax. So there’s a real kind of pull there. And as in Kurt Sutter style, all of the characters are left kind of off kilter after this particular episode.”
With Nero wanting to choke Jax in the last scene of “Aon Rud Persanta,” does this lead to an end to their partnership? If so, will Nero want revenge?
“You mean if he decides to go for choke? Yes. Well, one thing that I’ve noticed just in watching previous [episodes], being in fan mode of the show, is that Kurt’s been really good about people getting their comeuppance; things that you do tend to come back and bite you. That’s been this recurring theme that he’s had going through all six seasons and you’re seeing with the loss of different characters that that is a big thematic force with regards to the show.”
“So I don’t know where it’s going. It’s going to materialize in some heavy-duty fashion. But he’s definitely torn because, as Gemma has said in previous episodes to the Nero character, there’s an affinity that Jax has for him. [Jax] has had many consigliere in this show that offer advice or that he gets wisdom from in different ways, and I think that Nero realizes that. But, having said that, his past and where he came from and what all that means is very, very strong as well.”
Nero and Gemma love each other, but is his love for her enough to keep him in line as far as Jax is concerned?
“What has developed over these past two seasons between these two characters they’ve really developed a—you’ve watched them kind of do this awkward different kind of courtship that’s happened. I mean they’re saying I love you to each other now, and who would have thought that would have come out of Gemma’s mouth. Not just to her son, but to another relationship guy. So it’s very interesting. We’ll see how that all plays out. There’s a definite pull there.”
As a veteran actor, you’ve seen the evolution of the Latino in Hollywood. What’s the next move?
I think we’ve made great strides, but it’s nothing for nothing, because it all relates to the fact that our population numbers have increased so much. And with regards to the entertainment industry, the bottom line is it’s a business, so the fact that when you look at opening numbers of grosses for weekends in terms of like big tent pole movies and the Latinos are very involved in that first weekend, business-wise it just makes sense that there are more opportunities out there. And because the population numbers have increased there has been, in terms of the landscape of actors since I was around, since I started out I mean that has increased exponentially. Because there were always four or five different actors for every decade or generation that you could rattle off names, Ricardo Montalban or Raul Julia, Andy Garcia, there were always four or five, but now it’s exponentially grown in all of the different genres, all of the different arenas of the entertainment industry.”
“The next move has to be to jump on the other side, and what I mean by that is to be much more in control of the product with regards to writers, directors, producers, studio people. And once we make that kind of achievement and jump on the other side we’ll be much more in control of the product and be able to really tell stories that are much more relevant.”
The season finale of “Sons of Anarchy” airs tonight at 10pm only on FX.
Click the image below to watch last’s week’s episode: