EXCLUSIVE: Theo Rossi Talks 'Luke Cage' Season 2, Shades and Going Toe-to-Toe With Alfre Woodard

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“I mean, obviously, I can never say anything about anything about anything,” Theo Rossi laughed, before joking that his phone has been tapped since the day he joined the Marvel Universe. The Marvel's Luke Cage star shared a tiny tease when ET caught up with him earlier this summer, just before filming began on season two of the Netflix hit: "I know Cheo [Hodari Coker, the show's creator] has some cool things planned." MORE: The Great Coincidences That Connected Theo Rossi's Biggest Roles Luke Cage himself, Mike Colter, played things just as coy when ET caught up with him at the premiere of his new film Girls Trip. "I think we're gonna mix it up a little bit, and we know what kind of show we are this season," he shared.
"The second season will be a little different than the first one. I'm really excited about it. I'm excited about the new villains," Colter said, possibly referring to Mustafa Shakir (The Night Of) and Gabrielle Dennis (Rosewood), who have been added to the cast as John McIver (aka Bushmaster) and Tulsa Johnson (aka Nightshade), respectively.
While these might not be Earth-shattering spoilers, Rossi credits that same element of surprise with making the series stand out and with shaping his character, Hernan "Shades" Alvarez, into one of the Marvel’s most interesting villains. After admitting he's a little biased, Rossi declared, “I felt like I had one of the greatest journeys of a villain in the Marvel [universe], because he was the guy you never saw coming. It just took a couple episodes for people to kind of take notice of that.” “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Marvel show where the good guy gets carted off to jail and the bad guys are sitting there notorious at the end,” the actor continued, musing about the end of season one. “I think that’s why it made Luke Cage so successful, that it was very unpredictable. And I think that Shades – you had all these big villains and all these people that looked like they were the top dog and they all kept getting taken out, while he just keeps moving up -- he’s like a cerebral assassin.” One of the few left standing at the end of the first season was fellow baddie Mariah Dillard, played by Alfre Woodard. "Black Mariah" and Shades have a special connection, and it turns out that Rossi loves "#ShadyMariah" as much as the fans do, telling ET “it’s such a devious and cool relationship.”

Rossi went on to praise Woodard as both an actress and humanitarian to admire. Plus, he admitted that she is his first big love interest in his career. "I basically get to have a dance partner in Alfre Woodard, who is one of the most decorated actresses working in the business," he said, citing his co-star's 17 Primetime Emmy nominations (and four wins), her Academy Award nomination and numerous other accolades. "I just get excited when I’m around Alfre, because she’s got the youthfulness and the heart of a young teen. And she acts and plays in scenes like it’s her first time, every time, and that’s all I search for in my dance partners." He also noted the parallels between his roles on Luke Cage, Sons of Anarchy and his latest film Lowriders, in particular, the strong actresses they all featured. "I've been fortunate enough to act with very strong, beautiful women in this business,” Rossi said of working with Woodard in addition to Katey Sagal on SOA and Eva Longoria on Lowriders. “Eva is a boss. Like Katey [and] Alfre, they come in -- and you’ve got to understand they’ve come through the business when it wasn’t as easy -- and here they are, incredibly decorated, still standing." Rossi acknowledges that it's not just the women he shares the screen with that he admires, saying, "I’m a guy who’s raised by women -- my sister, my nana, and my mother -- so I’ve always had a certain, not just a level of respect, but a certain awe of how women navigate in this world and especially in a business like this." For more Marvel news, ET will be catching up with Luke Cage, the rest of the Defenders and more at Comic-Con 2017! Stay tuned for all the latest from San Diego!