Jeremy Sisto Chases the Wicked on the 1980s-Era Sunset Strip

The Wicked City Star Discusses Hair Metal, Actors Obsessed with Serial Killers, and How His Role Compares to Others in His Repertiore

by | October 27, 2015 | Comments

Courtesy of ABC
(Photo by Courtesy of ABC)

Time to hit the local drug store and pick up a bottle of your fave hair-hardening product. Dudes, get out your denim, your leather. Dudesses, make sure you look prettier than your dudes. Time to rock it old-school hair-metal style in Wicked City.

Jeremy Sisto stars in the new ABC show, plopping him smack in the middle of the infamous Sunset Strip in the 1980s as a detective investigating a serial-killing charmer who ravages the pool of female youth ever present in the historic rock clubs of the era. Of course, the world famous Whisky-a-Go-Go is the backdrop of the premiere episode, shown here at the height of its popularity, with the likes of Billy Idol and Mickey Ratt gracing the stage. If you blink, you may miss a rock star cameo.

Sisto, who’s no stranger to television success with roles in Law & Order, The U.S. version of The Returned, Suburgatory, and Six Feet Under, took some time to chat with Rotten Tomatoes about the show, his fondness for hair metal, and how his role of Detective Jack Roth compares to other fan favorites.

(Photo by Courtesy of ABC)

Kerr Lordygan for Rotten Tomatoes:  I’m a big metal-head from the 1980s myself, which is part of what initially draws me to the magic of Wicked City. Were you into that music scene?

Jeremy Sisto: Yeah, man. I’ve actually been listening to Hair Nation on Sirius recently. And I kinda thought, “Oh, it was before my time,” but not really. I mean, I was into rock in high school and, you know, Poison comes up, and Tesla, and Ugly Kid Joe. And these were all songs that I danced to. [Bands] like Ratt were a little before me, I think — but there’s Bon Jovi and that “Blaze of Glory” stuff. So I definitely hit the tail end of it. There’s a real sweet spot in my heart for good guitar solos.

Rotten Tomatoes: Me too, man.  And I’m loving how there are all these band-doubles playing at the Whisky — in Wicked City‘s version of the Whisky anyway — like Mickey Ratt, later known as Ratt.

Sisto: Yeah, and then we have some of the real people from back in the day that, if you did live in that time, you’ll recognize.

Rotten Tomatoes: I saw Stephen Pearcy as the bouncer.

Sisto: Yeah, that’s right. 

Rotten Tomatoes: Are there more surprises like that coming?

Sisto: Oh, yeah.  Oh, yeah. we’ve got some good ones.

(Photo by Courtesy of ABC)

Rotten Tomatoes: That’s a trip. And then the other side of this coin is that the show’s about a serial killer investigation.  It’s a really dark thing happening in this hair metal environment. 

Sisto: So this particular case is based more on the time. It was the serial killer capital of the world at the time. There was a lot — there was the reign of the Hillside Strangler and the Night Stalker. There was a slew of them. So the idea of the show is that these sick people came to Hollywood to kinda make a name for themselves, just like so many other people throughout the world came to Hollywood for the same reasons — just with not quite as dark intentions. And it’s really all kind of mixed up in the murders  — it’s all mixed up in what this world is. It’s so intent on making superficial aspects the most important things in life: how you look and who you know, what drugs you’re on. You know, you’re living the dream, but the dream is actually a little darker.  You talk to anyone who lived through those 1980s times, and it’s not like, “Oh, it’s was an amazing time.” Its like, “Yeah, it was a wild time. I can’t believe the things I did.” There is an underbelly of something more wicked, and I think that’s what the show is.

(Photo by Courtesy of ABC)

Rotten Tomatoes: We all saw Decline of Western Civilization Part Two: The Metal Years. We all saw the kind of mayhem that was going on.  Did you learn anything fascinating or disturbing while you were researching or working on this role?

Sisto: I think as a young actor, like many young actors, you get obsessed with serial killers when you’re first starting out as an actor.  Probably because those are the brains that are the furthest gone and — 

Rotten Tomatoes: Or that’s our next stop as actors.

Sisto: (Laughing) Exactly, exactly. And it’s just like, all strippers are in school for psychology — all actors are obsessed with serial killers.  I didn’t have to pick up any new books and, to be honest, I have a couple of small kids, so I’m not trying to read a bunch of stuff about serial killers right now. That’s the show. My character thinks serial killers should not be out there. And they mess up his understanding of the world, and yet he has his own dark side that the show goes into. But his connection to serial killers isn’t so much that he wants to be a serial killer himself.  Somebody who actually is out there killing people [and] it screws up our notion of humanity and what to expect in the world. So, I think anyone who is aware there is that kind of evil in the world — so bad, that it’s a part of their daily life — it can definitely be traumatic, but it also is addictive. You talk to any homicide detectives that have been on these cases; when they retire, they miss it more than anything in the whole world.

(Photo by Courtesy of ABC)

Rotten Tomatoes: Is it difficult to be in that world?

Sisto: Well, I just pretend to [laughing]. So that’s the key. My brother’s a cop. I go on drive-alongs with him. The people doing the real thing are the ones it’s difficult to live in. We’re portraying them. And this is a fun show. Not that we don’t go into some really cool character stuff, and I think people will have a notion and ideas about human [nature].  I think it’ll bring up all the cool things that great TV shows do, but at the same time we want you to have a good time for the hour.  Because we think in this show, it’s entertainment.  We want to get people excited and thrilled and I think as the season continues, it gets pretty amazing, pretty intense. So I’m really excited for people to check it out.

Rotten Tomatoes: I definitely got drawn in by this first episode.  I need to know what happens next.

Sisto: Yeah, the second one is awesome.

(Photo by Courtesy of ABC)

Rotten Tomatoes: So tell me what fans of, say, Six Feet UnderLaw & OrderThe Returned, Suburgatory what might they be most excited about watching you in this role?

Sisto: Well in Law & Order, I think, if you’re into crime sort of drama, then obviously we have that. What’s fun about this show [is the] technology… This is 1982.  So obviously, no cellphones. We have beepers. I think we just have the first computer: this big hulking beast that’s super slow. So we’re really having to do police work that is very different than today.  We don’t have any DNA stuff. And it’s all very grassroots kind of police work. So I think that’s really fun to watch. But then I think the fans of Six Feet Under might be interested in some of the layers that the writers are writing for the characters. I have a teenage daughter again, so maybe Suburgatory fans will want to tune in to see what my other teenage daughter relationship is like.  I don’t know. I’m not sure how I’m gonna pull Clueless fans in.  They were young — well, it is Hollywood — a different side of Hollywood–

Rotten Tomatoes: 1980s, though —

Sisto:  Cher would’ve been maybe 5 or 6, I think. 1982? No, she was probably born right around then. 

Rotten Tomatoes: So we can call it a prequel to Clueless.

Sisto: [Laughing]It’s a prequel to Clueless that’s exactly right.

(Photo by Courtesy of ABC)

Rotten Tomatoes: And it is such a great, all-star cast. How did you get involved?

Sisto: They had shot a pilot and they decided to go a different way with my role and another role. You know, they do that sometimes. I don’t understand it all that much, but in this situation, I was the beneficiary of the recasting.  So I sat down with them — and honestly I wasn’t interested in doing a crime procedural thing again where every week there’s a new case. Obviously, it’d be great — I’d be lucky to do that again if that happens. But at the time, I was trying to not do that as much just because it’s not really my taste. I like things to go on for longer — I like storylines to continue and change in a much bigger way.  They pitched me what they wanted to do with the character, and I said yes and we started our journey. And the cast was a real deciding factor. I’ve known Erika [Christensen] a long time. She’s a killer actress — no pun intended — and everyone brings some great stuff to the show.

(Photo by Courtesy of ABC)

Wicked City premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on ABC. It also stars Ed Westwick, Erika Christensen, Taissa Farmiga, and Evan Ross.

Tag Cloud

dogs batman Thanksgiving Sundance Now festivals Pop TV Comic Book 2017 Captain marvel Countdown Film History Disney USA Network Arrowverse Travel Channel MSNBC NYCC theme song Amazon Prime Discovery Channel scary movies cancelled TV series comic NBC golden globes The Purge CBS All Access Extras diversity transformers series space MTV dc Cosplay Writers Guild of America Elton John Election Teen FX on Hulu Paramount Network mutant Peacock Bravo cults docudrama unscripted Netflix Christmas movies Schedule GIFs Box Office Nat Geo BET Super Bowl science fiction SXSW cartoon richard e. Grant harry potter ABC Family screenings latino mockumentary Marvel Studios Pixar Rom-Com Tubi Marathons dramedy period drama Animation indie President cancelled television OWN Mudbound AMC See It Skip It Toys Polls and Games true crime PBS Universal E! Columbia Pictures Paramount crime drama Epix Family CNN Star Trek technology boxoffice movies 71st Emmy Awards Watching Series ratings Disney+ Disney Plus Masterpiece Walt Disney Pictures television Fall TV Sci-Fi Binge Guide politics HBO FX ghosts universal monsters spider-man Reality Competition breaking bad Acorn TV zombie reviews 20th Century Fox LGBTQ Lifetime Christmas movies Disney Channel SDCC christmas movies YA Spike Adult Swim Drama Pet Sematary nature Biopics natural history Fox News Brie Larson psychological thriller kids TCM Awards romantic comedy Apple serial killer Showtime CW Seed travel Infographic HBO Max stand-up comedy TCA Winter 2020 halloween adventure justice league Apple TV Plus finale Black Mirror hist revenge Ovation Quiz Musicals strong female leads Creative Arts Emmys Stephen King TV Land hispanic foreign sag awards Anna Paquin 45 dragons tv talk APB Christmas Ellie Kemper Mary Tyler Moore DirecTV WGN rotten movies we love Netflix Rocketman Pop Amazon Studios SundanceTV romance Amazon blockbuster sequel Syfy south america Song of Ice and Fire Tumblr The Walking Dead Lionsgate Spring TV Photos Classic Film Turner casting Action zombies Hallmark discovery Superheroe composers cops game show screen actors guild spinoff miniseries Lucasfilm green book crime thriller TCA 2017 PaleyFest 2015 Avengers New York Comic Con TNT Podcast Best and Worst children's TV canceled 2018 Logo zero dark thirty Certified Fresh directors witnail cats biography Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 007 Tomatazos Fantasy Interview Disney Plus Comedy Central spy thriller El Rey war Crackle Lifetime FOX cooking spain YouTube Premiere Dates Musical Valentine's Day Dark Horse Comics franchise renewed TV shows Spectrum Originals quibi Trophy Talk ESPN San Diego Comic-Con slashers Turner Classic Movies Shondaland Amazon Prime Video historical drama TV Marvel Cannes cancelled TV shows First Reviews Opinion Apple TV+ Western robots Nickelodeon Martial Arts Kids & Family cancelled Country documentary 24 frames Holidays talk show VICE disaster CBS TIFF ABC First Look The CW Sony Pictures Calendar Sundance TV toy story spanish language 21st Century Fox LGBT political drama Black History Month MCU Pirates 2019 versus American Society of Cinematographers aliens Sundance Set visit anime Tarantino video Nominations VH1 Horror police drama jamie lee curtis Winter TV teaser Disney streaming service Red Carpet psycho National Geographic free movies Freeform Crunchyroll supernatural Star Wars award winner Summer game of thrones Superheroes sitcom Sneak Peek Comics on TV binge Chernobyl Cartoon Network Pride Month thriller ITV CMT blaxploitation comiccon reboot Trivia X-Men Marvel Television Hulu what to watch crossover Rocky Television Academy WarnerMedia cars Trailer cinemax book elevated horror DC streaming service Britbox TV renewals E3 streaming vampires Heroines TBS Awards Tour RT History singing competition Academy Awards Music A24 Hallmark Christmas movies GLAAD Emmys anthology Emmy Nominations Comedy Funimation adaptation Oscars TruTV Ghostbusters movie Shudder name the review comics Video Games Rock The Arrangement The Witch GoT Esquire 2020 sports OneApp doctor who Mindy Kaling YouTube Premium Mary poppins FXX A&E joker crime 2016 USA Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Film Festival Holiday Warner Bros. Mary Poppins Returns Character Guide DC Comics Winners TLC animated BBC America Endgame Mystery dceu facebook Baby Yoda Year in Review medical drama Starz Grammys social media Food Network Vudu TCA Reality RT21 DC Universe DGA canceled TV shows werewolf IFC BBC independent YouTube Red based on movie IFC Films Women's History Month