When Sons of Anarchy started Season 5 earlier this fall, fans were treated to a few new characters such as Harold Perrineau's Damon Pope and Jimmy Smits as Nero Padilla. Jimmy Smits recently held a conference call to discuss taking on this role, before the new episode "Crucifixed" airs Tuesday, November 13 at 10 PM ET on FX. The actor revealed that his role originated with Kurt Sutter's early idea for a new character.
"I think he was formulating what he was going to do for the season and what he necessitated in terms of the spokes of the wheel of the show. So we had two or three lunch meetings. I went to his office, took me around to the set, and just started vibing about what the show needed and a character that he was interested in exploring. That's the way it all started. That first script wasn't really written yet, but he had it in his head. So basically, that's how it happened. We were fans of the show, and like you said, it does have a really loyal, core base following that are very passionate about the show. It's not just people that are into motorcycles. It's a very passionate following."
He also talked about Nero's relationship with Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and Harold Perrineau's Damon Pope.
"I think what Kurt was doing is that he has Harold's character, the Pope character, and this Nero character both vying in their way at Jax's dilemma of where he is going to take this group. They have different ways of how to deal with power, how to get what you need and move on. Nero is much more about the exit strategy. In a world that's gritty and on, some might say, the wrong side of the law, how do you maneuver and get on the straight and narrow for your family? So I think that Nero's character with regards to Jax, he operates in that sphere as a mentor, as a friend, as a bro."
The actor also teased that Kurt has some explosive developments up his sleeve for the remainder of Season 5.
"He kind of blows up a lot of things on purpose to keep the characters totally off-kilter so they can go on to the next decision. So that's what's been going on in these past-last episodes that we've been shooting before the end of the season."
He also spoke about the research that went into playing his character.
"I went to interview people who were involved in Latino motorcycle clubs. I spoke to a number of people who have been involved in the penal system who are now trying to be on the straight and narrow like that particular character. We just talked about stories that they've encountered and the lore that they have, and what tattoos mean when you have, because your body is kind of like a board of your past. Things like that, those things flesh out a character's life in a lot of ways. You hear stuff and you have to be like a sponge and use what you can and how it relates because TV is kind of fluid, and things change on a week-to-week basis."