Before Theo Rossi appeared in Luke Cage, he was best known for his work on FX’s Sons of Anarchy as Juice. During a recent interview, Rossi opened up about his experience developing the character of Shades and how these two characters are similar yet mostly different.
Rossi explained that Luke Cage is a true origin story and as audiences find out more about Luke Cage, they learn more about his character, Shades.
“This is really the origin of Luke’s story, and as we find out more about him, we find out more about Shades. They’ve both shaped who each other is. When we first met Luke, we were looking at it through Jessica’s eyes [on Jessica Jones]. There were never scenes with Luke without Jessica. It was all through her vision. Now, we’re seeing Luke step into this world, his world, and all these nefarious characters that come with it around him and how they affect his journey.”
He went on to say that his character was truly calculated and had an agenda from the start.
“Shades is this guy who has been there from the beginning, has a total agenda the second he steps in, and for anyone who’s there or gets in his way or happens to be a part of it, how he uses that, he’s a chess player. He’s going to get to where he has to go, no matter what.”
Due to the nature of Shades, comparisons to Rossi’s Juice on Sons of Anarchy became extremely likely. Rossi added that Shades is a traditional bad guy but Juice had layers and was often going back and forth between good and evil.
“Shades is a bad guy. I don’t think Juice was ever a bad guy. I just found out recently, someone told me that he actually had taken more lives than almost any character and you never think of him like that. Not counting any of the giant shootouts, but he did single-handedly take out the most people, which is so weird because I always looked at him like a victim. He was the nice guy, so it’s shocking that someone said that. I’m going to have to fact check that and see when I go back in 20 years and rewatch the entire run.
Where someone like Juice was kind of side-stepping and moving backwards and everything was happening to him, this is a guy who is so incredibly intelligent and a giant chess player. I love how [executive producer] Cheo [Coker] compared him to Littlefinger [Aidan Gillen] from Game of Thrones. He’s dictating. He has a plan. He does his best to execute those plans. He’s very cerebral. He’s such an interesting character to take on because he’s doing so much sometimes, and when you start to see it all come together as this giant story, you realize just how smart and calculating he’s been this entire time.”