Sons of Anarchy’s Jimmy Smits Teases a Touching, Sad and Grim End

Get that tissue ready because tonight’s Sons of Anarchy series finale is probably going to tear us apart on so many levels! While you’re preparing to pour one out for SOA, why not read this Q and A featuring highlights from a press call that we took part in last week with Jimmy Smits (Nero Padilla). He wasn’t able to share much about tonight’s finale, except that we’re in for a touching, sad and grim end to this story.

Nero has been somewhat of a balancing force on SOA. What are your thoughts on the role that Nero has played within this family and club?

I remember having a conversation with Kurt (Sutter) at the end of the second season that I was on, which was Season 6, and he expressed interest in me thinking about the way he framed it, the Nero character becoming part of the mythology of the show. And that’s the way it was framed. So for the character besides that ongoing super objective that he came in with and was what his major character tag or pillar was that he wanted this kind of exit strategy, it’s something that permeated not only his character, but I think it influenced actions of the other characters. The character served this purpose of confidant, foil, love interest, all of those little spokes in the wheel that fleshes out the show in general.

Can you talk a bit about Nero’s relationship with Wendy and the moments of humor that come from that.

It’s one of Kurt’s strong suits. If you look at the whole gamut of the seven seasons of the show when he has characters that one would conceive or consider to be dark or askew. You can see it in Tig, you can see it in all of the characters actually that Kurt operates best when he does this kind of one-two punch to the audience, and can present [a] lighter shade, a humorous side, and then socks you with something that can be very emotionally impacting.

I think that engages the audience in a lot of ways. It makes them root for these people who are on the “wrong side of the tracks” so I like the fact that he operates as a writer from that kind of level. And with regards to Nero and Wendy, they both have the similarities that they have is that their sobriety is something that they have in common, so I think that that’s the strong bond that they share or will continue to share. Whatever happens that’s an element of it. I think it takes kind of the stink off the possibility that there’s a romantic thing. It’s more a paternal, brother/sister kind. You get that vibe from the back and forth that they have, so it functions on a lot of different levels because of that.

When you got that last script and read it, was it what you were expecting, or were you surprised by how it played out?

I’ve been continually shocked with the past maybe five scripts in terms of like we’re really blowing shit up here. [Kurt’s] going for broke, so it was always with like a little bit of trepidation on everybody’s part when that new script would come in, in your email or whether you would get it in page form, to make that turn of the first couple of pages to see what was next or who was going to go down next.

I don’t think audiences are going to be disappointed at all. I think they’re going to be very satisfied and it’s touching in a lot of ways. It’s sad, but it’s also grim, too.

The relationship between Nero and Jax has been so heartrending and beautiful, especially in this season’s episode “Suits of Woe”. Can you tell us a bit about the connection between those characters in the scene where Jax breaks down when sitting down with Nero?

I think it was the culmination of what the relationship has been between these two characters over three seasons and certainly the weight of what the Jax character has been carrying or feeling for the past seven seasons. Because of that relationship between Jax and Nero, there was the availability of a kind of vulnerability, those words that Kurt wrote that came out of Jax’s mouth there about the bottom line no matter what’s happened, she’s my mom have to really resonate in a huge way.

I’m kind of happy that the way that turned out on a performance level. We were able to have enough trust between us as actors; and that Peter Weller, who directed that particular episode, kind of just said minimal stuff and let it happen, but was very supportive, so I think it resonates and has the power that Kurt intended when he wrote it.

When you look at this last season, the final episode and your final arc on the series, would you say that there is a satisfying ending for both the show and for your character?

As far as the last season is concerned, I think that Kurt ended it really beautifully and it has all of those elements that have been the signature of the show throughout the seven seasons. I was a little surprised specifically about the way Nero ends up, but I totally get it. That’s about as much as I can say without doing spoilers and stuff.

What can you tease about the fallout that is bound to take place in the finale from all of the deaths in “Red Rose”?

I can say that the audience is going to be satisfied with the way the show ends up and that it continues to deliver its one-two punch that I talked about before. And as much as it is exciting and sad and funny, it’s got that grim quality to it as well.

When one of the journalists said that they hoped Nero makes it all the way to the end of the series, he said, “The reaper, beware of the reaper.” Fingers crossed that the Reaper’s scythe stays far away from Nero! Watch Jimmy Smits in the Sons of Anarchy series finale, “Papa’s Goods”, tonight on FX in the US and Super Channel in Canada.

Photo Courtesy of FX

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