Jimmy Smits…convict? With tats?

Yes, Jimmy Smits has finally gone completely into the dark side.  Oh, he’s been working his way into that territory for a few years, but now the transformation is complete: it has just been announced that he will be taking on a season-long arc in the new season of Sons of Anarchy, the very gritty “biker soap opera” that has become FX’s flagship scripted series. (Sons has featured Latino characters before, including Emilio Rivera, Marcos A. Ferraez, Benito Martinez, Jose Pablo Cantillo, and Danny Trejo.)

Deadline.com and other sources are reporting that Smits’ character on Sons will be a dangerous mentor for Charlie Hunnam character, Jax.

We should have seen it coming. Yes, he started out as a nice guy (for the most part) back on L.A. Law and NYPD Blue. But in recent years, Smits has elected to go for increasingly complex–and often much darker–character work. As Miguel Prado on the 2010 season of Dexter, he was a maniacal serial killer by the time it ended, but he started out looking like the normal Smitsian persona: a sleek, well-groomed, smooth-talking politician. He fooled us right up until he started stalking and killing folks all on his own. There were even hints of this earlier on, in the short-lived NBC series Outlaw, where his ‘retired’ Supreme Court justice was a flawed character from the outset–a womanizer with a gambling addiction. But now? Now we’re talking Neron “Nero” Padilla, a Latino gangbanger with an evil secret plan to screw up everybody’s lives…a murderous dude from Day One, complete with tats and (we assume) really big guns.

You have to admire Smits for taking on these challenging roles. After the heartbreaking onscreen death of one of TV’s most beloved characters of its time, he could have cruised through an endless series of ‘heroic’ roles and played it safe. Instead, he keeps pushing the envelope…and this role on Son of Anarchy looks to be taking that to a whole new level.

Sons will reappear with new episodes this fall. Until then, we’ll have to content ourselves with out new DVD of Outlaw: The Complete Series, on sale now! Right here!