Actor Theo Rossi received a huge break playing Juice on “Sons of Anarchy.” Now, he’s returning home to Staten Island for his production company’s first feature debut “Bad Hurt.” The film centers around the Kendalls, a close knit Staten Island family with their fair share of problems.
Ed and Elaine are taking care of their special needs daughter, and their eldest son, who is dealing with psychological war wounds. Rossi’s Todd, the middle child, is the peacemaker but has escaped the chaos his siblings bring. Despite that he finds himself returning home every morning to support his parents.
amNewYork spoke with Rossi about shooting on Staten Island and his hopes for the future.
Do you hope “Bad Hurt” brings more visibility to Staten Island?
Of course, I plan on doing that. Our next couple of films that we’re planning is all set on Staten Island. Until there’s a subway here, Staten Island will always be the forgotten borough. We’ll always be a weird kind of place, where if you don’t know I’m from here, then you know the Wu-Tang. [Laughs] What they don’t realize is that Paul Newman lived here, “The Americans” shoots here — there’s so much that happened here.
Was it easy to create a family environment on set?
The community came together. Between my mom bringing different lunches to everybody, to hosting Sunday dinner to 80 people every week, to all my friends who own different restaurants just bringing food throughout the day. It was an entire community effort.
What do you hope the film says to the veterans?
I think people just have to be more aware. It’s great to go out and support the troops — I do it every single day, and I’m an ambassador for the Boot campaign. We have a new event coming up called Push Ups For Charity here in Staten Island, and everybody always comes out, but then they get to go home. For the Kendalls there is no going home. That is their home. I’m so intrigued by what goes on behind closed doors.
Was there a shift when you went back home after ‘Sons of Anarchy’ got enormous acclaim?
People come up to you, but they’re so cool about it. They’re just like, “Hey man, great job. Keep representing the island.” Coming back here was a no brainer because it’s made me who I am and without the backing of Staten Island and Brooklyn there is no “Bad Hurt.” These people are not going to be fake to you. It didn’t matter that 12 million people watched “Sons of Anarchy.” They don’t care. You’re just that same person that played Farrell High School football.
If you go: ‘Bad Hurt’ opens at the Tribeca Film Festival on Monday at 5:45 p.m. at Regal Cinemas Battery Park; April 25 at 2:30 p.m. at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea and April 26 at 9 p.m. at Regal Cinemas Battery Park