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!