How “Army of the Dead” Star Theo Rossi Is Preparing for the Apocalypse

We grill the new Austin resident on his ranch restoration, his love of dogs and all the toys he keeps in his garage

May 28, 2021 1:58 pm
Rossi recently relocated to Austin from his former home in NYC
Rossi recently relocated to Austin from his former home in NYC
Payton Ruddock

Theo Rossi is an American actor and producer, best known for playing Juan Carlos “Juice” Ortiz on Sons of Anarchy and Hernan “Shades” Alvarez on Luke Cage. He is a staunch supporter of animal welfare organizations like The Humane Society and PETA, and most recently starred in Zack Snyder’s latest film, Army of the Dead, on Netflix. 

He also recently made the move from the New York area to Austin, Texas, which is where he was for a recent chat with InsideHook contributor Charles Thorp on Twitter Spaces. They spoke about everything from his decision for the big movie to transitioning into ranch life to watching Army in a theater. Their conversation appears below, and has been edited and condensed for clairty.

InsideHook: Tell me about how it was to watch Army the first time

Theo Rossi: The first time that I watch the movie was on a laptop while I was in Los Angeles filming my television show True Story, which is going to be amazing by the way. I don’t think people are ready for how great it is going to be. But since I was away from home, my team sent me a link for Army of the Dead and I watched it on my MacBook at my hotel room, I wasn’t able to cast it to the television sadly. I will say it wasn’t the ideal viewing situation, and not how I think Zack really imagined for it to be viewed.

So when I got back home to my new home in Texas there was a lot of excitement about being able to see it in a theater, since they are having these select theaters that are showing it. One of them is in Austin, and I was excited to go with my wife. I told her that it was great, and that she was going to love it, but really I was also wanting to go to the theater for myself, so I could see it in that proper way. The scope of the movie is just something else, and it was amazing to see it on that opening night.

I have to say it is really a movie that earns its second viewings. My wife has seen it again since that first time we saw it, and she’s been on the Internet a little bit reading some of the blogs that are all dissecting the little nods, rabbit holes and easter eggs that Zack put into the movie.

The reaction in the theater was one of pure excitement, and it was amazing to be around that, especially from something that I was a part of. That is also what I am hearing from my friends and people on social media.

How has that response felt on your end?

I wrote Zack a message just the other day, and thanked him for getting people excited for movies again, not to mention getting them into theaters again. I mean people need the escapism now more than ever, and that is what I really love about making movies. I feel like this was the first movie that really got people talking, debating and analyzing to that extreme level again. The whole world just went through something so immense and monumental. 

You mentioned that you recently made the move to Texas. How prepared would you say that you are for a zombie apocalypse event?

I have a samurai sword next to me right now, just to give you an idea of the operation that I am running here. But really there are multiple weapons that I have at my disposal here. I am fully prepared in every sense of the word. I am not going to give away all the tricks or traps that I have available to me, but I am set. I have bugout bags, it is not just canned tomato soup and water. I am that guy who is ready. 

How did the decision to move to Texas come about?

The time was coming to move, and my wife brought it up as an option. I wasn’t opposed, but I just hadn’t really thought about it, because really I had been ignorant to how great it could be. My first time experiencing Texas was while I was road-tripping around the country, when I would go from New York to Los Angeles and more. On one of those trips I went through Shamrock, Texas, back in 1999. It was a completely dry county, with a constable, but we were able to go to a neighboring spot to get drinks. I remember there was also line dancing, and to be honest, I don’t remember much else beyond that! It was a good time.

But to try it out, we went there for a little vacation and I was sold. Now we are building out our new place, which is going to be a full ranch. We are building it out, and it has been a little strange doing all of this press and meetings while we are in the midst of construction. I am excited about the results though. The new ranch is going to be a very special place for my whole family, but for our dogs especially. 

I know your dogs are a really important part of your life. How are they liking the change in location?

I sadly lost three dogs over the past year and a half. It was absolutely brutal. But I was happy to welcome a new member of our family though, a beautiful girl named Juno, who is a shepsky, which is a German Shepherd and Husky mix. Out of the dogs that I lost, one was part Husky and two were part Shepard, so she is like a mix of all of them. 

My dream has always been to be completely and utterly surrounded by animals at all times. I think that it gives something to you physically, psychologically and all-around mentally. That kind of environment takes you to a different place and puts you in a different mood. We have been working on the land for a few months now. I am excited to rescue more animals, and not just dogs. We are also rescuing donkeys, goats, and chickens. This has always been the dream for me. 

I have never lived a day in my life without multiple animals. I think of them no differently than my children. I know that sometimes people feel weird about that, but that is just because they don’t understand. We are all a family. We are all a pack. I mean all you have to do is see my kids out there with the dogs, or any of our animals, they are all completely meshed together. My upbringing was dogs, cats, hamsters and snacks. Theirs is going to be donkeys, horses, dogs, goats and who knows what else.

I hear you found your new dog Juno in Texas. What organization did you work with?

I worked with Highland Lakes Canine Rescue out here in Austin. There are so many great places that are helping animals. I know that Petfinder has some great resources. The “Adopt Don’t Shop” campaign is one of the best messages to have out there in my belief. There are so many animals that need homes. I think you would be a fool to think that they don’t know when they are rescued and brought into a real home. They know. I also love older and senior animals too.

Juno was left for dead. She was too high energy for the people that owned her before. I don’t like lecturing people, but I do believe that there needs to be a strong screening process done before you are allowed to bring an animal into your home. I think it is important to pass down to my kids that we are of this earth, as our animals are, and that respect is important all the way around.

The past year has been a little challenging for going out, but have you been able to explore the Texas scene much?

I don’t eat meat, so some of the foods that Texas is known for I’m not going out to eat, but I have found plenty places that I like. I love just being at home on the ranch with my family, though. There are a couple cool spots there. They are opening a Soho House here in Austin, and a friend is helping to run it. I am excited for spending some great nights there.

I see you got a new ride as well. How has it been building out the garage in Texas?

I got this great new Chevy Tahoe Z71 that I love. It’s raised up. Shoutout to Antelope Valley Chevrolet for it, because it is going to be great for road trips with the family, which there are always plenty of. And of course I still have my motorcycles. I have my bike from the show (Sons of Anarchy), but I am never going to ride that. The other one is an awesome custom bike that looks great but isn’t really comfortable enough to ride for long periods of time. I think I’m good on all the shiny things. I want vehicles that I can rough up a bit, and help people in.

I feel like I need to complete the garage with a nice old truck. Something that you aren’t even sure if it is going to start when you turn the key. I actually met a guy the other day who has this really awesome old Ford Ranger truck that he bought for like 500 bucks, from the ‘90s. It is the perfect kind of vehicle for Texas, all beat up and awesome. The kind of ride you can drive into town and pick up some supplies with.

But first I need to finish this new homestead. 

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