Katey Sagal plays the role of Gemma Teller on the hit FX series “Sons of Anarchy”. With the show now in its final season we see several of the main characters standing at difficult cross roads due to the horrific events that closed out season 6. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with the show matriarch recently to discuss her characters progression, challenges related to the role and what she is going to miss most about working on the show.
Adam Lawton: Over the course of seven seasons Gemma has shown a full range of good and bad. At what point do you think she really crossed the line or do you think that she hasn’t crossed that line?
Katey Sagal: I think what we’re seeing now is her own conscience finally grabbing her. I still think she believes that killing Tara at the end of Season 6 was not premeditated. She really did believe that Tara had turned the entire club in and it was the downfall of her entire existence. At that moment it was just sort of a perfect storm, and not that she doesn’t realize the heinous nature of it, but I do believe that what’s happening now is that in times before, she was able to compartmentalize and almost rationalize. I think this one was just too much for her.
AL: Can you talk about the scenes where Gemma is talking to Tara’s ghost and why you think they’re so important for Gemma?
KS: I think it’s very indicative of her unraveling. They’re super easy to do, because I felt very close to Maggie, who played Tara, and so it’s easy for me, and Gemma felt very close to Tara. I think that they had such an intricate relationship, but also very mother/daughter, so I think that I just can put her there very easily and speak to her. It speaks to Gemma’s own—as the season goes on, her remorseful moments get stronger and start to seep out and the walls start closing in. I think that it keeps her connected. It’s like I keep reiterating it wasn’t intentional what happened so it kind of shows her just continuing to connect.
AL: What has it been like not only playing Gemma over the course of the seven seasons, but also watching her transition from a fans perspective?
KS: It’s fantastic. It was fantastic as an actor and it was super fun to watch and that’s what I love to watch myself all the time. I definitely had my critical moments, but this was something I really wanted. I’ve worked in television for so many years in comedy and I really, really wanted to do more dramatic work because I never even think I’m funny. I always thought I’m supposed to be in a drama, so it’s been very satisfying for me to push myself and go places I haven’t gone. It’s been great. It’s been absolutely great. That’s what you want.
AL: What were some of your high points from the series and, what were some of the challenges?
KS: It’s constantly challenging, which as an actor you only hope for, so I felt every season brought a new set of things that I’ve never done before
and needed exploring, so it was that kind of job where week to week, episode to episode there was always a little something that I felt like this will be great. I guess the overall challenge of it was playing somebody that was so very different from me. Her maternal instincts are similar to mine, but her ways and means of doing things were something very foreign to me. I don’t live in an outlaw world and I don’t carry a gun and I don’t do those things. The high points were numerous, so it’s difficult to zero in on—that’s a hard question. I’m about to re-watch the whole thing.
AL: Have you gone through a little bit of a mourning period now that the show has wrapped?
KS: It’s been interesting, we’ve all sort of known the end was coming, but I don’t think any of us really acknowledged it till the last couple of weeks. We’d have moments on set where people would tear up and we’d say good-bye to one director, but the work really requires you to be pretty much where you are. It’s complicated to keep everything in place in your brain and your character and where you are, so that pulled focused. I think Kurt and I are just—part of us are in denial and we have lots of other stuff in life, so it takes the onus off it. I’m sure at some point we’ll probably crash from it all and we’ll recognize it, but I think overwhelmingly we’re both so grateful that its seven years and it’s been such a great experience, so I don’t know that you get too sad really. Things happen. I think it’s ending at the perfect time, I really do.
AL: What will you miss most about being involved with the show?
KS: I’ll miss so many things. It was a great working environment. I’ll miss the people. That’s what you really connect to and I’ll miss the writing. I’ve been in television a long time and you don’t find great parts that readily and you don’t find great writing that readily. It’s been just a great creative experience to be able to have both of those things, and it’s a colorful bunch of people to work with, so going to work was never boring. I will miss them all terribly.
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