Sons of Anarchy – Season 6: Nearing the End

776Story by Ray Seidel

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We hook up with the cast at Comic-Con just as we go to press for the very latest on the goings on in Charming and our favorite TV motorcycle club. I ask series creator, writer, and “Otto” if they plan to stay at seven seasons, or maybe go on to eight.

Kurt: You know, right now I’m looking at seven – I’m writing towards seven, we’re halfway through season six so it looks that way. I think if I went into season seven and I said to the Network – Hey, I need another 5 episodes, or 6 episodes, I’m sure they’d find a way to make that work. I don’t see that happening right now. I feel like seven seasons is a good time for these guys to move along and do the things they do, and really honor the arcs we’ve set up and the relationships we’ve set up and the characters we’ve created. To do more than that, I just don’t see it happening.

Kurt has been entertaining the idea of a “FIRST 9” prequel maybe a year after SONS – what is his thinking today?

Kurt: We’re in discussions – there’s nothing official yet. The network definitely has interest in doing it. Creatively I don’t think we can do it on the tails of SONS. I think that would be a mistake. I want SONS to end and breathe a couple seasons – and then bring back something, and then allow it to sort of have its own life a little bit – you know what I mean? So we’d probably wait a couple seasons before – if we decided to do it.

How does Kurt like using Facebook and Twitter to reach fans and the international community?

787Kurt: Oh, it’s been great. I’m very cognizant that I get to do what I do because of the fan base of this show, and they’re very vocal fans, and they’re very committed and they’re very appreciative – so I just feel it doesn’t require a ton of time from me.

I try to spend 10-15 minutes on Twitter in the morning and then 10-15 minutes at night, and just sort of reaching out, try to do my little Q&A. I sort of have it built into my schedule now so it doesn’t feel like a burden to me. And I think the fans appreciate that. I get a lot of feedback; I get a sense of what people enjoy, and root by, and what people love. It’s really interesting to see and hear things that impact people. Obviously things like Opie’s death but even the smaller things that remind them of something – all that stuff is really cool.

Do fans have any influence on which way the story goes?

Kurt: Not so much the way the story goes, but I’m very aware of what people respond well to. I know my show has a big action component, there’s a big absurd humor to the show, so I try to honor that with each episode and incorporate that into the story lines. I feel that sometimes it’s the “candy” that gets people to show up, and they’ll ultimately stick around for things that are a bit more “meaningful” in terms of character and relations and family and stuff. I like to think that’s why the base of the show keeps growing – they come and show up for it and end up sticking around, and we tend not to lose fan base.

What can we expect in season 6 without giving too much away?

Kurt: The season picks up 4 or 5 days later – it’s really going to be Jax’s trajectory – can I be a good father, can I be a good husband – can I do what ultimately my father couldn’t do. Can I get us out of guns, can I get us legit, and still be an outlaw organization. That really will be Jax’s journey this season, and how do you do that? Really continuing what we said last season – can you be president of an outlaw organization and not be Clay, or ultimately not become JT, and not collapse and turn inward.

Are we going to see any relationships with Tommy or Bobby?

Kurt: Boone will have a relationship – it won’t be of the romantic type. People ask which character I’d write for if I had more time, and the truth is I’d write for all of them. If I had another hour in the show I’d always have another Tig story. They’re so much fun and they’ve turned those characters into such three dimensional people, and it’s so much fun if I can make it into a bigger story.

Will we see much more of Otto this year?

Kurt: [Smiles] Of course.

Ron, what can you tell us about Clay this season?

778Ron: I start off in prison, a man without a country, a man without a family, a man who has squandered and lost everything he has made into his life’s work, including friends, family, position, possessions, etc. Not only that, but he’s got a five million price on his head for whoever assassinates me, gets $5 million cash. So there’s a million reasons for Clay to disappear real early on. I don’t know where we end up in terms of where we’ve come in the first half. I don’t want to reveal anything; I guess I can say yesterday Kurt Tweeted out one word for everyone in the cast – for me he wrote “redemption.”

What were you expecting with your character?

Ron: I really didn’t have any expectations. But I didn’t know that season 4 would have the reveal that Jax would know that Clay was the guy that murdered his father. From that moment on Clay is being unwound, and undone. And I had no idea when I signed on that that was going to be the case. It’s been very uncomfortable for me, both as an actor, and as a fan to play Clay.

Do you have a project going with George R R Martin?

Ron: I don’t have anything going on with George R R Martin. There’s a book he wrote many many years ago called Fever Dream which got him notoriety before he started working on Game of Thrones. So we’re trying to launch a movie version of Fever Dream with Guillermo del Toro producing, and me. But there’s nothing specific to report as of yet. I would be in it. George R R Martin – his only writing gig for television was for Beauty and the Beast, so I’ve known him since 1986, and we’re very, very good friends, and we love each other, and we admire each other, so we’ve always been looking for reasons to get back together and work.

Any chance of a HELLBOY 3?

Ron: There’s always a chance. The chance seems to be getting slimmer and slimmer – as I approach 70.

What are you doing off-season?

Ron: I’m going to do skiing with Tiger and his ol’ lady. I’m just kidding. I work man – when I’m not working, I work. When I’m not working on Sons of Anarchy, I’m working independent films, or every once in awhile a big one comes along like Pacific Rim – I did that during last year’s hiatus. So I like to stay busy. I love what I do; I love the variety of it. One day I’m playing Clay Morrow, another day I’m playing a hero of something, another day I’m playing a woman.

Are we going to see you practice your riding this year?

Ron: How do you spell “writing”? WRITING? I’m writing a memoir. It’s called Easy Street the Hard Way. I don’t have any specific news to give you yet but there’ll be some announcement in the next couple of months.

How about practicing your riding?

Ron: I think it’s pretty well known I’m not the rider on the team. The other guys have taken to it a lot more than I have. But I do what I gotta do. You know the fact that Clay is in prison he’s not going to be doing a whole lot of riding this season.

I ask Katey about FUTURAMA, as Comedy Central says this is the final season.

783Katey: Did you hear we’re doing a crossover episode with The Simpsons? They announced it yesterday at The Simpsons panel. I assume it will be on FOX.

Where’s Gemma going this season?

Katey: Gemma’s going, going. Well, she’s pretty happy at the beginning of the season. She’s with her new boyfriend. She’s pretty much resigned herself with what happened to Clay, although that was not her idea, she went along with it. But I think she has no regrets about that decision. I think he had crossed the line that was just too far for her to come back from. She’s very happy her son is President. I think that she is honoring him basically.

How do you think your character has progressed, and was it what you expected?

Katey: I didn’t know what to expect. I think Kurt had a big plan. But what’s great about Sons of Anarchy is it’s about a family. Gemma is not a person to lie down. There’s going to be some shit that flies around and she’s going to have to step in. In the beginning of the season we see a new side of her. She’s a little bit lighter, she’s happy with Nero, she’s kind of back in the “momma hen” mode in just making sure everybody is okay. And then shit starts to fly.

Are we going to see you ride this year?

Katey: I am going to ride.

Theo, where is your character going this season?

781Theo Rossi: Oh God! I can’t say – Kurt’s around. Listen, you know the way it ended with him sitting on that floor, and feeling pretty awful about the whole Clay situation, and being instrumental in that happening. You know what it is, I think after that – I’ve been lucky enough to seriously portray every single aspect of that character. You know he was the funny guy in the beginning with the comic relief, and the guy trying to fit in, and the amazing season 4 trying to do something to not get everyone in trouble which then obviously backfires which becomes this folly of errors which messes with his psyche. And then go to this suicidal thing, which then goes to this sadness and trying to hold it together, and then go to basically a breakdown at the end. There is obviously a breaking point for all of this. And there’s no one that does that better than Kurt. And what I’m excited to see is another manifestation of this character – again. I can’t be luckier because it’s great – I get to explore a whole other side again. And I’m really excited for everybody to see it.

Do you have to stretch to get all these different permutations of Juice?

Theo: No, when the ratings good enough man, and you play a character long enough, it about becomes second nature in a way. You obviously have to tap into some stuff. There was a point where Juice would cry if he heard a Diana Ross song at one point. I think that’s because of all the stuff he was trying to hide, and his wanting a father figure type thing. And then – to see what occurs in season 6 – is amazing. I’m really excited to see what everyone thinks this year.

What have you got cooking this year?

Theo: Yeah, my production company is producing its first film. We’ve partnered up with an amazing team. We’re going to announce at the Toronto Film Festival. I get to shoot it in my home town of Staten Island and bring jobs back. You know one of my charities is Staten Strong which is an off-shoot of the Boot Campaign, my other charity, and we get to bring jobs back to Staten Island after Sandy. We’re going to shoot our first feature film there and we’re super excited. We have the most amazing team, and we’re about to finalize on the most amazing cast with some really heavy hitters. And a couple of other things we’re going to hopefully announce, too.

Give us a couple of words about the Boot Campaign.

Theo: Boot Campaign is the greatest thing ever because it’s a tangible way to show the public you support the military by wearing your boots. It’s in-line with the “Got Milk?” thing, because it says I got my boots on because we care. We know you’re over there for us, and we haven’t forgotten. We do the boot ride every year; it’s one of the few events, if not the only event, where all the SONS get together and you get to ride with us. And we have all the SEALS, and all the Marines, so it’s great; we’re excited.

A peek behind the curtain:

We also caught up with Property Master Bryan Rodgers on the SOA set to check out the different firearms used by the characters on the show. On hand are an assortment of real, replica, and rubber weapons – the rubber ones of course to clock someone with. They look completely real. Says Bryan: The Glock is used by just about every bad guy in the show. Jax has a Springfield Armory .45. There’s Beretta 92 – Chibs gun is this one. Tig uses a 9mm. In fact, most are 9mm.There’s the rubber .45 they just tuck into people’s pants pocket or belt when they’re walking around so they don’t have to carry a real weapon. Many weapons are out for a tune-up; we tune them up periodically just to be sure there is no issue when we do the big gun fire scenes so none of the guns jam – so we take them back to the gunsmith.

What kind of training do the actors get for this show?

Bryan: Depending on the show, we’ve actually had actors do arraigning to have test firing and firing live rounds to understand the concept of what a gun really feels like, especially if they’ve never fired a gun before. What we’ve come across on this show is most of the actors have trained on the set in years past. Most of the actors have touched a gun at one time or another, and we give a quick refresher course the morning of a gunfire scene where we have 5 or 6 guns lined up, have them all opened up, show the empty clips, then we’ll go through the procedure of loading the gun, then showing the actor the safety procedures of how to handle the guns, not to point the guns, how to read when a gun misfires, and just the general rules of how to fire a gun safely and effectively that looks good on camera but also safe for everyone around him and himself.

And where do you obtain your weapons? Outsourced?

BryaninISSAutoGunVaultBryan: I have a few gun safes here that I’ll keep the guns I use all year ‘round, which are all the hero guns for all our characters, all the guys: Chibs, Tig, Jax, Juice. I’ll keep those here at all times, with a rubber replica backup, because lots of times we won’t put a real gun in their hands until we need to fire a gun. That’s another level of safety we’ve maintained here on the show. None of the actors will have a gun in their hand until they actually need to fire it. If there IS a gun in their hand it’s either a replica or a completely inert, empty gun. So there’s no blanks or anything inside of it. I do have a certain amount of guns here, but when a scene calls for a giant arsenal of KG-9’s or AR-15, there’s a couple of sources I go to. ISS Independent Studio Sources – they have one of the largest armories, if not in California, in the world – I’ve never seen anything like it. They have almost every gun you’ve seen in motion pictures and television up there. So I’ll go in there and I’ll look at a character up and coming, and I’ll pick out 4 or 5 different looks for him. I’ll look at – is it a revolver – is it an automatic, is it something SLICK or is it down and dirty? And you kind of look at the character and understand where they’re coming from, and that way you can take that ideal and put it into a weapon that makes the character organic, that makes it feel “that’s his gun” – that’s the kind of gun this guy would have.

Thanks for showing us around Bryan. Just one example of all the thought and work that goes on behind the curtain.