Theo Rossi Up Close and Uncaged for FAULT Magazine

Theo Rossi is best known to his fans for playing “Juice”—the tatted up, mohawked, and hopelessly troubled underdog—on FX’s long-running TV series Sons of Anarchy. Now the Staten Islander is set to attract an even bigger fan base as the Marvel Cinematic Universe soldiers on with Netflix’s Luke Cage. The setup? After a sabotaged experiment leaves a wrongly accused man with superhuman strength and bulletproof skin, he breaks out of prison and attempts to find a semblance of normality in modern day Harlem, New York City. But it’s not long before his many adversaries pull him out from the shadows—among them Rossi’s own supervillain Shades Alvarez—forcing him to confront a past he tried to bury. Luke Cage is the latest in a string of shows leading up to Marvel and Netflix’s event series The Defenders set to premiere in 2017, which will see Rossi’s comic book world collide with that of Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Iron Fist.

 

 

F: So you’re obviously big on tattoos. What’s happening with that these days?

          TR: Back in the day, you got a tattoo and that was that. You weren’t thinking about where to put it and just got something that meant something to you. As I got older, I got crazy about symmetry and making things even. I want to tell a story by linking the tattoos I do have, especially after having my son. This tattoo artist and I just spent a couple of hours talking about how to put it all together in a really cool way. I’m really excited about it.

F: You’re a family guy. You’re big on your Staten Island roots. Was it nice to shoot Luke Cage closer to home after being on the West Coast with Sons of Anarchy?

          TR: Without a doubt! Luke Cage was predominantly shot in Harlem. I would say the heavy majority of it was shot on the streets and rooftops around there. All the stage work is done in-studio in Brooklyn, and that’s where Daredevil and Jessica Jones also shoot. I lived in Los Angeles, on and off, for 15 years. I think we were in season five of Sons when [Hurricane] Sandy hit Staten Island and that’s when I decided to move back to the East Coast. I knew that Sons was going seven seasons and, more importantly, I was going to be on for all the seasons. So I created an exit plan. It just so happens that a month or two before I got back to New York, Luke Cage came into my life. To come back to New York City and do Luke Cage—you can’t write a better book than that for me.

F: Were you hesitant about joining another TV show after such a long run on Sons?

          TR: My agent and everybody were asking me, “Do you want to do another TV show?” There are so many TV shows and people don’t realise this. There are like 400 TV shows on the air. I told them, “The only way I’d go back to TV is if it had a Comic-Con type of audience.” That’s what I felt we had with Sons. I felt that passion. There’s a giant difference when you look at something like the fans’ passion for Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Jessica Jones. There’s a fanboy type of love that is so intriguing to me as an actor. Once you feel it, you only want that in TV. I wasn’t interested in doing a procedural on network television. I have a lot of friends who do it, but it’s just not for me. In this day and age, it’s all about Netflix and Marvel. They’re at the top of their game.

F: There’s a lot of secrecy surrounding your character Shades Alvarez on Luke Cage. He has been described as “the ultimate opportunist.” Could you elaborate on that?

          TR: Well, he’s from the original comic book Luke Cage, Hero for Hire from 1972. Shades has a massively long history with Luke. And since he has this history with Luke, it makes him very dangerous. There’s constant purpose in every move, look and decision that’s made, so he’s the ultimate chess player. He’s the ultimate opportunist because he uses humans as pawns. He’s always shifting things around to his advantage, whether the other characters know this or not. He’s just so patient. I’ve never played a character so patient.

F: How often do you get asked about the challenges of acting with sunglasses on?

          TR: All the time! [Laughs] I didn’t think it was a big deal at first and then you’re in these dark clubs at night. The dark Ray-Bans are such an important little aspect of Shades, not just because it was derived from the original comic book, but it also really does make him that much more—for the lack of a better word—shady. Anyone who wears sunglasses at night in a club is either on peyote or just a little “off” like Shades is. As we started doing more episodes, I was like, “Am I not communicating?” The thing is, I act so much with my eyes. The eyes are everything. With some of the best acting I’ve seen, nothing is spoken. So to then take that away, that was a really big challenge. Amazingly, the person who I had to study was Charlie Cox on Daredevil. I was like, “How is this kid doing this and still getting his emotional points across?” Shades does take them off sometimes…

F: I know you played a bunch of sports growing up. You’re an obsessive runner these days. Did you have to take up additional physical training to prep for Luke Cage?

          TR: I feel lucky because we kind of covered the gamut of physical activity with Sons. I just finished a race last weekend for Nike and I’m training for the New York City Marathon. Running started for me when I had to lose a bunch of weight for a role I took on. What I found was that it’s the easiest way for me to escape life for a minute and go reset. I could also do whatever task was at hand while running—memorizing lines, and figuring out how to excel in one of my businesses and move it into its next phase—because I’m so competitive and always want to test myself. You’re waiting all the time as an actor. When they say you shoot all day, you don’t really shoot all day. You actually shoot about 45 minutes of footage total. I used to come home at three or five in the morning after a shoot and just start running. I just had to get moving and get my brain working again.

F: Do you think about mortality a lot? And where do you think that comes from?

          TR: I’ve had a lot of people leave around me, either by their own hands or just the roll of the dice. It made me very aware of it from the first person I saw go that I was super close to when I was very young. I knew that this isn’t forever, and whether people want to admit it or not, it’s terrifying! Things get real short, real fast. You blink and the day is over.

F: What is your FAULT?

TR: I want to do everything. I want to do absolutely everything and my mind is constantly jumping from one thing to another. It’s like that [Dylan Thomas] poem: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light!” I’m going to rage into the light. [Laughs] I’m very, very aware that I have a very short time on this Earth. This is why I try to be as clearheaded as possible and do everything possible. The only reason I say this is a FAULT is because there’s not a lot of rest living that kind of existence. But I’m more than okay with that.

FAULT Film: Lana Condor Makes Her Explosive Debut in X-Men and FAULT ISsue 23

 

Acting in your first ever movie can be a very stressful time for any actor and not made easier when there’s a large fanfare around the project. Enter, Lana Condor. This month Lana make her big-screen debut playing ‘Jubliee’ in X-Men Apocalypse. Like many of the other characters in the movie, this won’t be the first time we’ll be seeing Jubilee in the movies however this will be the first time the character is used for more than just an Easter egg or throw away reference for the keen eyed.

For those who grew up with the 90’s X-Men animated series have a very soft spot for Jubilee. The majorly underused (and somewhat under-appreciated) X-Woman has defied the odds and become a character dear to many X-Men fans…So no pressure Lana!

As part of our FAULT #23  X-Men Special we caught up with Lana to find out more about Jubilee and see just where the character fits in the larger X-Men film Universe.

 

FAULT: X-men will be your big screen debut, what was it like to land a spot on such a big production for your first gig?

Lana: Very very surreal. It’s been a very humbling experience for me coming out of X-Men because I have realized things don’t happen in a vacuum, and that I was very blessed to have landed such an amazing project so early on in my career. While on set, I got to learn from some of the best which was definitely one the highlights. Just watching my castmates perform was very inspiring, let alone acting alongside them.

 

Are we going to see the badass 80’s mall rat Jubilee or will her character focus more on her vulnerability and youthfulness? 

We will focus more on her vulnerability and youthfulness. She’s still learning about her powers and developing them. Although I would be honoured to see the badass mall rat come more to life! She’s a kick-butty type of girl!

 

Jubilee has appeared in the previous X-Men films however has not had many lines and never displayed her powers! Now we see that she is doing both in the movie. Were you able to inject must personality into the character?

I tried to keep it as close to the comics/ cartoon as possible. I really want to do her fans justice!

 

Jubilee often gets ranked as the mutant with the most useless powers but at the same time is VERY dear to the fans of X-men. Is it daunting to take the mantle of such a popular character? Comic book fans aren’t very forgiving!

Well… since you put it that way… now I won’t be able to sleep at night! [laughs] but Yes. There has definitely been times where I really feel very nervous because I do not want to let her fans down. They are so devoted to her and I really admire that. It’s amazing, I’ve really learned that she means (as well as all the other characters) a lot to people. Maybe she reminds them of their childhood or was an escape for certain people. She certainly means a lot to me. So yes, the pressure to do her proper justice can be intimidating. But I also have to realise that some things are just not in my control.

 

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Ben Hardy Earns His Wings In Our FAULT #23 Photoshoot Preview

Ben Hardy first appeared on UK screens playing Peter Beale in the popular TV soap, ‘Eastenders’. Like many before him, there was always a chance that Ben would fall into the “soap trap”, becoming the face of his onscreen character and settling into a lifetime stint that’d find him rarely taking on other roles due to a rigorous filming schedule.

For Ben, this was not the dream. With his eyes set on the big screen he took off to the states and landed the role of Archangel in the upcoming X-men Apocalypse movie. As part of our FAULT #23  X-Men Special, we caught up with Ben for this exclusive photo-shoot and interview.

 

Leaving a solid role in the UK and heading off for the states must have been daunting. Did you have a job lined up before you left?

No, I just left really. It’s one of those things you’ve got to just get out there to do otherwise I might find myself waking up in 10 years wondering what could have been.

 

 

Angel is quite a different role to the one you played on Eastenders. Did you know much beforehand?

Ha yes, the characters are a little different. I’d seen all the x-men films and watched the cartoon growing up but I hadn’t read many comics. I have done since getting the role and learnt a lot.

 

Angel has appeared in the X-men films before played by Ben Foster, were you able to draw much from his character to play his younger self?

As the timeline has completely warped and while I did watch X-Men: The Last Stand,  I went into playing Angel as a brand new character altogether. I’m drawing on Angel’s character as dictated by the script and my own interpretation of him without worrying too much on past appearances.

 

Is the transformation from Angel to Archangel true to the comics?

I can’t say! But I will say that it’s a really awesome transformation scene.

 

How did you adapt to all the special effects used in the movie?

It was pretty weird. I’m like, ‘OH GREAT! I get to see the X-Mansion’ and I get in there and it’s one platform and green screen [laughs]. My wings are always CGI so I’m on set flapping my arms about a lot.

 

Moving forward, will you and the younger cast members be taking over the mantle of the X-Men?

As far as I know, the original X-Men actors will remain in the franchise. But I think there is a great young cast in Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Alex Shipp and Lana Condor, who have so much talent to bring to X-Men in the future.

 

There are a lot of British people in the movie! Did you all gel well on set?

Definitely! And of course the British connection helped with the banter, we could always just say, ‘well, how about that Tesco amirite!’ as a counter haha.

 

What is your FAULT?

There’s plenty! I’m a massive binge-eater. I’m either training hard and eating super healthily or I’m the opposite. There’s no in-between!

 

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Alexandra Shipp “Storms” her way onto FAULT 23’s Film Cover

 

Alexandra Shipp shares a familiar tale when probed about her early days as a starry-eyed performer with her sights set on Hollywood superstardom. The fast-rising actress/singer scored a manager and an agent at just 14, and she would spend the next several years splitting her time between Los Angeles and her family home in Phoenix, Arizona. “It’s a cutthroat, dog eat dog world,” she says.

Shipp has transformed into Aaliyah in the late singer’s biopic, starred in last year’s cult phenomenon Straight Outta Compton, and of course there’s X-Men: Apocalypse, the latest installment in the blockbuster franchise in which she plays Storm, one of Marvel’s most beloved superheroes first made popular in film by Halle Berry.

X-Men Apocalypse releases in the UK on May 18th and we’ve got 3 of the stars for our X-men special collection. Kicking off with Alexandra Shipp. Enjoy the preview and watch this space…

 

 

What can you reveal about Storm’s origin story in the film and how that might have shaped her worldview at large?

You find Storm just a few years after her parents have passed and she’s living on the streets of Cairo. She’s pickpocketing for cash to buy food, stealing clothes, and camping out in abandoned buildings. It’s sad to see someone so great being reduced to so little and I think that’s what attracts Apocalypse to her. For Storm, that’s all she’s ever known. All she knows is that, if you have powers, you can make money off of that. You can make money by protecting people or by taking it from them. So when Apocalypse tells her, “How are you living in the gutter when you’re a goddess? You should live your potential. Come with me,” Storm realizes, “You’re right! Don’t mind if I do, Apocalypse! Papi!” [Laughs] I hope they do a full origin movie with Storm and T’Challa. That would be so dope. That’s all I can think about.

 

How long did it take you to settle into Storm, your Storm?

It took a couple of months. What I wanted to convey with Storm is that she can kill you with a look, and if you know me, you know there’s no killing anyone with my look. [Laughs] I’m the biggest nerd! I’m way too silly to be that badass. It was hours and hours in front of a mirror, which is no surprise for an actress. It was about trying to find the right head tilt, the right gaze and the right thing, that if I shoot you a look, you will feel my power. It took around 3 months to find her body.

With ­X-Men, you’re entering a universe that has a longstanding comic book fan base and a movie fan base, not to mention people who look up to you for taking on such an iconic black female superhero. Is that a lot to take in?

I do feel pressure because I want to give girls an accurate representation of a powerful black woman. Halle Berry did such a great job that I felt the fear of living up to her Storm. But I also felt the fear of living up to my own nerdy expectations. I’m a fan of X-Men. I grew up on the cartoons. I grew up reading the comics. I wanted to do that right. I wasn’t sleeping, just going over my Arabic and my Kenyan accent all the time. I wanted to make sure that girls who see this movie, young girls of any race or color, are excited by Storm and the way I portrayed her.

 

Words: Kee Chang

 

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