Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.

Ahead of its fifth season launch in September, FX‘s biker drama Sons of Anarchy — the network’s highest-rated show ever — trotted out new cast regulars Jimmy Smits and Harold Perrineau to critics during a noontime at TCA. In the case of Smits, it’s hardly his first opportunity to “jump onboard a moving train,” as he called it today. He’ll be playing the role of Nero Padilla, whom creator and showrunner Kurt Sutter described as “an outlaw but from a different environment, more of an older brother or mentor figure.” He said that in Smits’ case, the show got its first choice to play the character. As for Smits, he said “I’m just happy I don’t have to wear a suit” after so many years wearing one on L.A. Law and NYPD Blue. “I’ve been a huge fan (of SOA). It’s been great watching the last couple of seasons as the ensemble got tighter and tighter and jelled. As for me, I’m glad to mix it up and do something a little bit different.” Perrineau is playing the part of vengeance-minded Damon Pope, a character whose daughter was killed last year. When he got the role Perrineau said he worried about whether he could pull it off. “But ultimately I have to do less than half the work. The writing is already done. I just have to show up and read the words. It’s an exciting adventure for me.”

Related: FX’s ‘Louie’ & Russell Brand Renewed, Network Orders ‘The Bridge’ Drama Pilot

In terms of the show itself, Sutter noted that as he came into Season 4, he realized that for the first time he needed to come in “with a very clear sense of what my endgame is. (Now) I have to write to that endgame. So the stakes get higher with each season. The circumstances get higher. The wreckage gets deeper. And as a result of that things will change. We don’t know how all of that will fall apart, but eventually it will.” But Sutter assured the TCA crowd that the show couldn’t ever go forward if Charlie Hunnam’s character Jax were to die. And that the show will “definitely” include “perhaps” Gemma (Katey Sagal) and Clay (Ron Perlman) as it moves toward its conclusion — whenever that may be. “The show is the prince’s journey,” he concluded, “so there is no show without Jax.”

Related: TCA: Charlie Sheen On ‘Anger Management’ – “It’s A Whole Different Animal”

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