After spending a few years playing one of television’s most heartwarming pimp badasses on Sons of Anarchy, Jimmy Smits is ready to take on his next high-profile TV role. The Emmy-winning actor has taken a big part in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming music-filled Netflix drama The Get Down. Here’s hoping we’ll get to see him do some freestyling on the mic at some point.
The Get Down takes place in New York City in the 1970s, at a time when the city’s financial downfall paved the way for the music revolutions that were punk, hip hop and disco. Smits will step up as something of a savior in the role of Francisco Cruz, who goes by the name Papa Fuerte. According to Deadline, he’s a political king in the South Bronx that takes care of his citizens in ways that the city government can’t, in terms of providing jobs, healthcare, housing and more. To be expected, he doesn’t run everything above the table, and has a deceptive side to him as well that’s present in both his street life and his political life. All roads in the South Bronx pass through Papa Fuerte.
With a Puerto Rican heritage as well as a childhood spent in Brooklyn, Smits knows exactly what it was like to spend his teens and early adulthood in the city as the culture clashes were happening. Luhrmann rocked the hell out of this casting choice, and he knew that Smits could “bring experience, gravitas and authenticity to the role.”
Some of the teens living in the neighborhood will be Ezekiel (Justice Smith), a smart and talented teen ready to transfer his dedication towards making a better life for himself; Mylene (Herizen Guardiola), a female who wants to take her fantastic voice to the disco dance floor, and is willing to face down her religious upbringing to do it; Shaolin (Shameik Moore), an unpredictable and odd thrill-seeker; Boo-Boo (T.J. Brown Jr.), a technically savvy kid who’s well beyond his years; and Ra-Ra (Skylan Brooks), the well-rounded guy whom everyone looks to for reasonable advice.
Luhrmann is making The Get Down his first project following the 2013 box office hit The Great Gatsby, and he’ll be behind the camera for at least part of the Netflix series. Expect the music to be snazzy, as legendary hip hop star Grandmaster Flash is on board as a producer and musical advisor.
Papa Fuerte will be Smits’ first role following his three-season stint as Nero on Sons of Anarchy. Despite getting his big break on broadcast networks, Smits (who also had a brief role in Dexter) was far more keen on keeping his career path in the cable/streaming territory. He accepted this role after turning down several broadcast pilots in the past few months. Can’t wait to see him in action.
The Get Down, which was co-created by The Shield’s Shawn Ryan, is set to debut on Netflix in 2016.