Set in 1970s New York City, the series — a long-time passion project for Luhrmann — revolves around a ragtag crew of South Bronx teenagers who are wild in the streets — nothings and nobodies with no one to shelter them, except one another. Smits will play Francisco Cruz, aka “Papa Fuerte,” a South Bronx political boss who delivers services the City fails to provide – jobs, housing, healthcare, etc. A big man with brass, he navigates downtown politics the same way he handles his uptown turf – with ease and a touch of deception. Whether it’s his niece’s desire for disco stardom or a recent immigrant’s struggle to grab a hold of the American dream, if you want something in the neighborhood, you come to Papa Fuerte.
“The Puerto Rican culture of the ’70’s Bronx plays such a large role in the story we are telling that the character of Papa Fuerte had to be played by an actor who could bring experience, gravitas and authenticity to the role,” Luhrmann said. “I know our entire cast is excited to have someone of Jimmy’s talent joining us on the journey we are undertaking. We are thrilled to have him on The Get Down.”
The setup of The Get Down — the story of how 1970s New York City on the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip-hop, punk and disco told through the lives and music of several South Bronx teenagers — is familiar territory for Smits. Brooklyn born-and-raised, Smits, who is of Puerto Rican descent, spent his teens and early 20s in the city during the 1970s.
Following his showy turn on FX drama Sons of Anarchy playing pimp Nero Padilla, Emmy winner Smits was offered multiple broadcast pilots this past season but opted to stay in the cable/digital space, leading to his casting on The Get Down, a project to which he immediately responded.
The 13-episode series from Luhrmann, Shawn Ryan and Sony Pictures Television, will debut in all Netflix territories in 2016. Catherine Martin, Paul Watters, Thomas Kelly, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Marney Hochman executive produce alongside Luhrmann and Ruyan.
Smits is repped by UTA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Tom Hoberman.