Katey Sagal talks about the final season of hit FX series “Sons of Anarchy”

CR: James Minchin/FX

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

CR: Prashant Gupta/FX

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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Film Review “The Purge: Anarchy”

Starring: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo and Zach Gilford
Directed By: James DeMonaco
Rated: R
Running Time: 103 minutes
Universal Pictures

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Are you ready to celebrate the annual Purge? Nearly every tattooed, face painted, vein bulging, rotted teeth maniac featured in the latest offering seems to be. “The Purge: Anarchy” takes us to 2023, a year after the previously featured Purge with a new batch of disposable characters hoping to survive the 12 hours America has made all crimes legal. Out of all the crimes that are now legal, everyone gladly picks up their nearest sharpened tool shed item and freshly polished automatic rifle, and settles on a night of murder. This time around, we’re not confined to an upper middle class home, but instead we’re placed in some rotting downtown urban warfare.

For this second installment, to what I assume will be a never ending franchise until the one that doesn’t make money, we’re introduced to three separate storylines. First off is the young, well-to-do couple, Shane (Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez). They’re one of those annoying shoppers that wait until the last possible minute to get groceries, but the real kicker is that they’re going through a shaky separation. Bad timing if you ask me. There’s also Eva (Ejogo) and Cali (Zeo Soul), a mother and a daughter just hoping to survive another annual Purge in their decrepit apartment building. Finally there’s Leo (Grillo), a father hoping to avenge his son’s death by dressing all in black and being armed to the teeth like Frank Castle. I’m sure you’ve already pieced together that they’ll eventually all meet-up, but the real unpredictable fun comes when they have to stick together to survive the night.

While the last “Purge” felt like someone left the “Panic Room” on simmer, the latest entry goes head on into dismemberments, bullet riddled bodies, gore and urban combat. It seems like one of the director’s favorite cult classics might have been “The Warriors” as we roam from one outlandish incident to another. Despite our characters quietly lurking, the film’s pace seems to be in top form as it finds clever ways to keep the anarchy engaging and absorbing. The plight of our characters isn’t an emotional investment, more than it’s a grotesque investment in the joy of watching another kill or be killed scenario.

Meanwhile, the director has still failed to create a working theme representing class warfare and race equality. He seems to believe the audience is too dense to pick up on the already implied subtleties so he proceeds to insert poorly written dialogue into actor’s mouth and further disrupts the flow with characters talking over obvious visual cues. Early on we’re introduced to a AK-47 toting pacifist who’s obviously the 2023 embodiment of Che Guevara who will obviously be making an appearance, but is given nothing of relevance to say. In more capable, demented hands, one could easily assemble a thoughtful good time.

As pure testosterone fueled savagery that’s aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, this “Purge” sequel works. As a potential cult classic with social and political commentary, it fails once again. Demarco may want to consider bringing on a second person to help him with the next “Purge” movie if it’s going in the direction I believe it’s going. If he’s hoping to hunt down some bigger issues, he may find out he’s unskilled enough to tackle them. He may just want to stick to blood and guts in poor taste and quenching American moviegoers never-ending thirst for sadism.

Blu-ray Review “Sons of Anarchy: Season 5”

Starring: Ron Perlman, Katey Sagal, Kim Coates, Mark Boone, Jr., Charlie Hunnam, Maggie Siff
Creator: Kurt Sutter
Number of discs: 3
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Run Time: 917 minutes

Season: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I have to admit, I have not been a fan of “Sons of Anarchy” from day one.  I came onto this show late but had a blast catching up with past seasons. Season five was easily the best season of the show, no question.  It really took us all by surprise and keep you guessing where it was going to hit next. Sutter is really one kick-ass creator, he has a lot of love for this show and it shows with each episode.  This Blu-ray releases comes stocked with some awesome extended episodes for our favorites from this season. This is easily are worth the purchase alone. At Media Mikes, this season we had the priviledge of casting with various of the cast members this season including Ashley Tisdale, Drea de Matteo, Harold Perrineau, Kurt Sutter, Ron Perlman and Attika 7’s Rusty Coones. Read all of them here. I cannot wait to see what Sutter has drummed up for the sixth season, which premieres on September 10th, 2013. This Blu-ray is a great way to hold you off until then!

Official Premise: From creator Kurt Sutter comes the adrenaline-charged Sons of Anarchy, featuring extended episodes and kicking into high gear with its biggest, most explosive season ever! As SAMCRO’s new president, Jax is surrounded by ruthless enemies and gut-wrenching betrayal. With Gemma fighting for control of the family and a bloodthirsty Clay out for revenge, Jax finds himself haunted by the sins of his past. Alliances are forged, friends are murdered, and loyalties are put to the ultimate test. Now, with the truth in sight, Jax must do whatever it takes to secure the legacy of brotherhood and protect his family — even if it costs him everything.

20th Century Fox delivered a very impressive Blu-ray release. Each of the episodes are stunning with their 1080p transfer. It really captures the grittiness of the show. Same goes for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which delivers in terms of the action, the music and the dialogue very well. The special features are just as impressive as the season itself. There are two commentary track included the first on the episode “Darthy” featuring Peter Weller and the second on “Sovereign” featuring Kurt Sutter, Paris Barclay, Katey Sagal, Maggie Siff and Dayton Callie. “Kurt Sutter: Creating Anarchy” gives us a up-close and personal look at the show with the creator himself. There is featurette on Charlie’s character “Opie Winston”. There is a Fan Concert at The Club House”, which is a fun feature that I would have loved to attend. Lastly there are tons of great deleted scenes scattered over the discs and a Gag Reel included.


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Ron Perlman talks about “3,2,1…Frankie Goes Boom”, “Sons of Anarchy” and Guillermo del Toro

Ron Perlman is known for his many unique roles like Hellboy or Vincent in “Beauty and the Beast”. He also plays bad-ass biker, Clay Morrow, in “Sons of Anarchy”, which just started it’s fifth season on FX. Ron tackles a completely different role in the new comedy “3,2,1…Frankie Goes Boom”.  He is playing the role of the transsexual ex-con, Phyllis. This film is a absolute riot and Perlman really steals the show. Media Mikes had the honor to chat with Ron about this new role, his recently “reset” character on “Sons of Anarchy” and his continuously growing resume working with  Guillermo del Toro.

Mike Gencarelli: What drew you to the role of Phyllis, the transsexual ex-con in “3,2,1…Frankie Goes Boom”?
Ron Perlman: It was not a childhood aspiration let me tell you [laughs]. However life its strange way of taking twists and turns that you never see coming. It turns out that Charlie Hunnam, my co-star on “Sons of Anarchy”, was going to to this film as his summer school pet-project. I get a call from him that the filmmaker would consider reading this script and play the role of Jack (this ended up being played by Chris Noth). I started reading it and I got to page 2 or 3 and I just said “Holy shit, this is really funny and I need to be in this movie. I started reading Jack’s part and I really loved Jack…but then I got to Phyllis. I get this mental image

of Jax Teller from “SOA” coming in and seeing Clay Morrow in a house dress, red nail polish, lipstick and being asked to kiss his hand. I said “Well, if that doesn’t get these fuckers nothing will” [laughs]. The more I read of Phyllis, the most I realized that this will be a really fun character to explore and unlike anything I have ever done before. I really admired the comedy in the writing. I called up and told them what I wanted to do and they said “It just so happens that you are the only person with the balls enough to ask to play Phyllis and by default you got the part”.

MG: Where did you get inspiration for the character?
RP: There was really no real inspiration from her that came from my life personally. Everything I used as a jumping off point as with what Jordon (Roberts) wrote. I just love the notion that Phyllis starts off as Phil, a guy who is an outlaw and is this computer hacker. He has this amazing ability to rip off Bank of America for $2 million bucks and that is how he ends up being Bruce’s (Chris O’Dowd) cellmate. He always had this notion of being a woman born in a man’s body and feels compelled to fix that. I said to myself “Jesus, if I can’t figure some interesting idiosyncrasies for the planning of this guy, then I should really turn in my Screen Actor’s Guild card.” [laughs]

MG: How was it going from working with Charlie Hunnam on “Sons of Anarchy” to this film?
RP: Some of the scenes that could have been very uncomfortable, and if fact where very uncomfortable, it helps that I had a bro on the set. I could say “Dude, it behooves us both to never get into the press as to how the filming of this actually looked and smelled like”. That fact that it was my bro that I was doing this with really helped a lot.

MG: Do you find that comedy comes natural for you?
Comedy was what started me off as an actor. I did some stand-up when I was really young, growing up in New York. Then I joined a troupe with a group of friends doing sketch comedy. So that was my first love. Hollywood does afford me to do a lot of comedy. So in order to find these opportunities, I have to go underground and find projects like “Frankie Goes Boom”. But when I am able to do it, it is a real pleasure.

MG: After five seasons, do you feel that that Clay Morrow has changed within your portrayal?
RP: In the first four years, he has this station in life and this stability and marriage with Gemme (played by Katey Sagal). Now in season five he has lost everything. He is on a reset now. No one knows where he ends up at the end of season five, including yours truly. But he is definitely on a journey where the sand is shifting under his feet and he is re-adapting himself. What an amazing opportunity that is

for me as an actor. You sign on to do a TV show, the conditions of which are highly well articulated and then all of the sudden five seasons in you are almost playing a new character. It is the same character but under completely new circumstances. Yeah, it is awesome and you don’t get to do that often on television. We all feel very blessed that this show is such an un-obvious exercise in storytelling. It sets a completely unpredictable set of circumstances and also while continuing to be very dynamic and violital. It is flood with very explosive violence and it is like a bad car accident…you can’t take your eyes off it.

MG: Are you and Charlie planning to work together on every project, after this you have “Pacific Rim” coming out?
RP: Yeah, for life man. This is it. Charlie Hunnam and I. We are the new Laurel and Hardy or Martin and Lewis or Abbott and Costello or probably Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen. But I am not sure which one is the dummy.

MG: How was it working with Guillermo del Toro yet again on this film?
RP: Oh my God, this is number five for me and GDT! We felt like family members from the very first project, “Cronos” and on. We became really good friends. So to get to go through life together celebrating this friendship and doing it in such a way that we add-in these wonderful creative opportunities into the mix is great. I am watching him evolve as a filmmaker and he is watching me grow old as an actor. We are getting to do it in each other’s presence. That is in a category that I can only label as “Undescribable”. There are no words to describe how phenomenal that reality is. Now that we hit the number five [laughs], it is pretty clear to me that it is not a fluke. It is probably something we will continue to do until one of us drops, and I got a really good feeling I am going first.

MG: You got to get him to do another “Hellboy” film man!
RP: I am working on it. Trust me I am working on it.

MG: You’ve been successful in both film and television, do you have a preference?
RP: I really love working for the camera. I really love working on interesting material. I would have to say the opportunity I have on this particular television show is probably 500 percent better than any other television exercise that one could hope to be on. There are some really great TV shows out there now like “Newsroom”, “Breaking Bad” and “Boardwalk Empire”. There is a lot of great stuff now being done on television. But for the most part those are the exceptions to the rule. And I am on one of the most exciting shows to be a part of. It is almost like doing a movie since it is such a charged and intelligent setting. So yeah, I don’t have a preference as long as it answers to those edicts.

Drea de Matteo chats about her role on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy”

Drea de Matteo is best known for her role of Angie Bolen on ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and of course Adriana La Cerva on HBO’s “The Sopranos”. She is a special guest star on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” playing Wendy Case, Jax’s ex-wife and ex-junkie who recently cleaned up her act and is looking to be part of Abel’s life. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Drea about this role and what we can expect.

Adam Lawton: Tell us how you originally got involved with the show in getting cast for the role of Wendy.
Drea de Matteo: Originally, I came with John Linson before the show was even–I don’t know if it was written or if it was–I don’t know what was going on. I know that I came with John and he introduced me to Kurt. Originally, the character was going to die in the pilot. Then when I decided to do it they kept her alive and I’ve been there ever since but back and forth because I couldn’t fully commit to being on the show at the time. So I was off the show for a while and became a huge fan of the show while I was off of it. Then I just started writing Kurt and Katey [Sagal] and thinking, oh my God, I can’t believe what’s going on. When does the next season air? I was like, and I want to come back. You guys have to figure out Wendy’s turn. So I came originally with John. Then, once it became Kurt’s show they wove me in and out when possible.

AL: Okay. Now, being that you’ve been back and forth, on and off the show, what’s been the most difficult part of playing the Wendy character because when we do see her it’s always a dramatic change from the last time we saw her.
DDM: Well she’s been in recovery. So it’s like it’s watching a child grow up to a certain degree. I think in the very beginning of the series she was extremely, extremely vulnerable. At first she was a mess. Then she was sober and a raw nerve. Now she comes back with her confidence intact and not wanting to stir any … up except for being a responsible party. It seems that the whole entire world has imploded and she’s going to have a hard time maneuvering within it because nobody’s stable over there. She’s now become the face of stability, which is kind of funny.

AL:Who do you think is the more powerful couple; Christopher and Adriana or Jax and Wendy?
DDM: Oh boy. Jax and Wendy? I would probably compare Adriana and Christopher to Jax and Tara maybe, because Wendy is not around enough. Oh boy, the more powerful couple? I’m going to have to go with Jax and Tara only because, I mean, after all Christopher had Adriana killed, you know. It doesn’t get worse than that. Adriana was very weak. Tara; she’s a force to be reckoned with.

AL: You have said before they were originally going to kill the Wendy character off in a pilot. With them deciding to keep the character were you allowed to kind of develop it from that point, or were the scripts just given to you and you kind of went on what they told you?
DDM: Well, Kurt’s a great writer, so they don’t need me. They didn’t me to say, “Well, this is what I want to happen to ‘Wendy.’” When you go into a series like this I’m sure Kurt had the entire season, the first season, outlined for himself and where it was going to go. My character was never a part of where it was going. It was all about Tara and Jax. So, I guess, once they kept me alive the goal was to just sort of have me there as like this thorn
on everybody’s side. Then I couldn’t stay on. So they just put that story to rest which was perfect because I went away to treatment anyway. So, yes, I didn’t really develop. The writer’s tend to write around the actor and their style to a certain degree as long as it’s keeping with what they’re writing about. So I know with Adriana, when I did Adriana, David Chase would do that with me a lot. I don’t know that Kurt did that with Wendy, but I think bringing her back as a strong character and it’s also very much who I am in real life. I wouldn’t say that I was involved in development. I mean, TV is a writer’s medium 100%, and the writer’s king. We all just need to understand that. It’s not a director’s place. It’s not for the actors. It’s really all about those writers.

AL:Now, ultimately, we know Wendy’s goal is to be in Abel’s life. Do you think there are any ulterior motives there now that she is clean, sober and seeing for the first time really with clear eyes a vision how the club’s working. Does she still want to be a part of that, or is she just looking to get scott free with her son?

DDM: I don’t think she’s looking to be a part of a club or to be part of that community. I definitely think that she’s looking to be a part of his life and to do it in a way where she’s not causing drama. I think she’d like to just get along with everybody. I think that–and anybody in the program would… I think she’d like to able to make amends to all of them, mostly to her son, and to be in his life. Even if it meant she couldn’t say, “I’m your mom,” but to just be in his life. Eventually, when he’s older he’s going to want to know who his real mom is. More than anything, I think that she’s looking for stability, not drama. I don’t think she has ulterior motives. I do think that if she’s pushed and manipulated and blocked out that you will see a side of her that…it’s not even so much that it’s an unstable, unsavory side. It’s she’s a mama and that’s her baby. She went and took care of herself in order to be able to come back and reclaim what was hers. So you can’t keep a mom away from their baby for too long.

AL:Do you find that there’s a big difference in shooting between what’s done on FX being a cable channel than your HBO, your Pay-Per-View channel, do you see that there’s a difference? Obviously, you can do a little bit more on HBO but shooting-wise, is there any difference or anything like that?
DDM: Yes. You can’t say f… That’s difficult for me. It’s difficult for a biker show, I would imagine. When you say, “Get the hell out of here.” But you really just want to say, “Get the f… out of here.”

AL: There’s so many similar elements between the Sopranos and Sons of Anarchy being one’s a gang and one’s mob. They’re all tight knit families and trying to cover that on a regular television channel.
DDM: The shooting is very similar. Sopranos, look, it was a whole different ball game. It was the first of its kind. We set the structure for it. Long shooting weeks, tons of money going into a show. That was brand new, man. Nobody knew what that was on cable yet. So all of these shows, Breaking Bad, you’ve got Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy, Rescue Me, like all of these are great shows. No one ever knew a TV show would be treated like a small film every week, big budgets and whatnot. Sopranos we shot 16-day weeks. Here we shoot 7-day weeks, 8-day weeks. I think that’s what they do. I don’t know.

AL: A lot of people really love the Wendy character and how she’s evolved. So I’ve had a few fans wanting me to ask, would it be possible for Wendy to be around a little bit more, maybe have a different love interest? Or do you just not see the role…?
DDM: Well, I’m going to have to say that’s totally 100% up to Kurt. I’m back now. I’m open and willing and ready to do whatever they want me to do. I took off for a long time there but I did a couple of episodes this season. I’m open to doing as many as Kurt thinks would benefit his story, the story he wants to tell, for sure.


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“Sons of Anarchy” Season 5 Interview Series

“Sons of Anarchy” is an adrenalized drama with darkly comedic undertones that explores a notorious outlaw motorcycle club’s (MC) desire to protect its livelihood while ensuring that their simple, sheltered town of Charming, California remains exactly that, Charming. The MC must confront threats from drug dealers, corporate developers, and overzealous law officers. Behind the MC’s familial lifestyle and legally thriving automotive shop is a ruthless and illegally thriving arms business. The seduction of money, power, and blood.

Season 5 of this show is shaping up to be one hell of a crazy ride.  We had the chance to chat with various members of the cast including Ashley Tisdale, Drea de Matteo, Harold Perrineau, Kurt Sutter, Ron Perlman and Rusty Coones…but that is not all. We will be adding new interview throughout the season including Chuck Zito in the coming weeks. Hope you enjoy these and be sure to check out this great movie.

Ashley Tisdale

Drea de Matteo

Harold Perrineau

Kurt Sutter

Ron Perlman

Rusty Coones


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Ashley Tisdale talks about her role in “Sons of Anarchy”

Ashley Tisdale us playing the role of Emma Jean on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy”, who is a high-earning escort at Diosa International. She is known best for her roles for Disney like “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and the “High School Musical” film series. Ashley also has a role in next year’s “Scary Movie 5”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ashley about her role in “SOA” and what we can expect.

Adam Lawton: Could you tell me what fans can expect to see from Emma Jean?
Ashely Tisdale: With Emma Jean, first of all, I love Sons of Anarchy. I was so excited to be able to be on this show just because I personally watch it, and I felt like…of course I come from Disney and I have a lot of young fans, but I do have fans who have grown with me as well. I’m now twenty-seven, and I was just really excited to do something different for a change. I always want to grow as an actress and this was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I thought that was super exciting just to do something that I haven’t done, and to have people see me in a different light, and I had a great time doing it. With Emma Jean, she is a high-priced escort, but she just gets into the club and they blame a couple of things on her. She’s kind of in trouble, but she’s the high-priced escort for what she looks like. She’s definitely the young kind of high school looking girl. There’s nothing too crazy, though.

AL: What type of steps if any did you take to prepare for the physicality of it and just the overall mental portion of that role?
AT: I feel like it’s so funny because before Disney, I did tons of stuff; I did network shows, I had done Donnie Darko. I had done a bunch of stuff before I even came to Disney, and it’s so funny because while you’re doing something that I’m so grateful for what Disney gave me and the experiences that I got, at the end of the day, I can do so much more than what I did on that channel and what I did in those movies. It takes just one person to give you that chance, and for me it was better to give me the chance to know that I can do something different and when he asked me to do the show, I was just so excited. For me, I think this is the transition in my life for me as an actress. I always joke around that Sons of Anarchy took my acting virginity because I definitely have a scene in that show, but I’m doing a movie right now, “Scary Movie 5” where I’m doing a lot of stuff that’s completely out of my comfort zone, and I think that’s the key. I used to be where I wanted to make sure every step was thought out. With every project I did, I had to make sure I’m comfortable, but I think about when you’re growing, even as a person, you have to just do it and get out there and that’s the only way to grow, is to challenge yourself.

AL: Can you give us a little bit of a background on the fight preparation between you and Katey Sagal? Did they have you go through a lot of classes or training to do that scene? Granted, it wasn’t a long scene, but it was a pretty physical scene?
AT: No, they pretty much just threw us in there. We had a set choreographer, obviously, and they just went over exactly what we were going to do, and I have done that in the past obviously with … so it wasn’t to scary but I was really freaked out. I was like, oh my God, is she really going to hit me? But no, she’s the nicest person in the entire world and so it was just really funny; we had a great time doing it.

AL: Do you know how much the character was already laid out when they brought it to you and did you get to provide any of your own input with that role?
AT: Yes, Kurt had it, pretty much; it was like the episode was written so he had told me he had thought about me just because they wanted her look to be very, like she’s this young kind of Disneyesque girl like the young girl that you wouldn’t expect to be a high-priced escort, and he had thought of me. I kind of just went in there, and he met with me actually right before I started shooting just to talk about it and pretty much it was really straightforward… I think in every character, I just kind of bring something to the character that I could make my own, and I just felt like how I usually relate to a character is what I bring to it. I just felt like using the youngness to the advantage and kind of the flirtatious thing, and it was definitely different from anything that I’ve ever done and I was very nervous, but Kurt and everybody were just so cool about it.

AL: What could you tell us about Emma Jean’s relationship to Jax?
AT: Jax really comes through for her, but I think she still questions who—she’s just there to do her job. She’s just there. She’s a worker. She’s an earner, so she’s there just to do her job and get out of there. Because of what happened in the last episode, she’s now being obviously; we don’t know if what has happened with the club and who told on the club, and so she is definitely a candidate for obviously being one of the people who might have. I think with Jax, she still questions; she doesn’t trust everybody. However, he kind of comes through in a way for her.

AL: What was the most memorable part of working on the show?
AT: The most memorable part about working on the show? Every single moment I was there, I was just so excited to just be with a cast that they are extremely talented, extremely grounded, and so nice. I just learned so much from being around them with Ron Perlman, Katey Sagal, and Charlie Hunnam. They are also really a tight-knit group, which is so great just to see that they actually are like the boys; all the guys. I think they had gone camping that weekend, and I just thought that was so cool. I had the best time on the show. It was such a great experience.

AL: Can we expect more gritty, hardcore, so to speak, roles like the Sons of Anarchy maybe to come throughout your career?
AT: Yes, I definitely think that there is a part of me that, I did a pilot this year, but it didn’t go for CBS and there was a character that I played, and she was kind of this raunchy, edgy character, and I just loved showing that other side of me. I felt like Sons of Anarchy, I got to do that with and also with Scary Movie 5, I get to play kind of all the characters that I’ve created in the past and also to do new things with that. It is definitely where I’m headed. I like to do things that I think people don’t expect right now, and I want to keep obviously challenging myself, like I said.

AL: You mentioned being such a fan of the show and now being part of the show, what do you feel, in your opinion, is why the show resonates so well with viewers?
AT: I just think Kurt is just such a great writer, and I’ve watched the show and I just cannot turn it off half the time. I remember getting into it a couple of years ago. I actually had downloaded it on Apple TV, and then I had to download the rest of the season. I would just sit there and watch each episode, but I feel like the actors, like I said; they are so close-knit, and they are actually really these guys that actually hang out with each other, and I’ve always felt that when you have such a great cast like that it kind of reminds me of when I did High School Musical. We all hung out together, and we all are really good friends, and I think that definitely resonates, and you see that in the show. You see this biker gang, but you see that they are brothers pretty much and it really comes through.

Kurt Sutter, Creator of FX series “Sons of Anarchy”, talks about Season 5

Kurt Sutter is the creator/writer and director of the hit FX series “Sons of Anarchy”. Now in its 5th season the series is showing no signs of slowing down. Media Mikes had the privilege to speak with Kurt recently about the death of main characters and what he looks for when casting roles on the show.

Adam Lawton: When a main character like Opie is killed or is going to be killed off the show does the actor or actress know ahead of time prior to getting the script?
Kurt Sutter: I like to let my actors know what’s going on. I don’t like to just hand them a script and let them read it for themselves. With Ryan Hurst who plays Opie we sat down and talked about how things were going to play out and how it all fit in to his characters story arc. Opie has been a character on the show since day 1 so I had to make sure everything leading up to and after his death was going to have the right flow. Though I wasn’t on set the day the scene was shot I know it was very emotional. Ryan had asked for everyone to be there so he could say good bye. This cast has a really solid bond with each other so this was the important for him to do that. When you see Opie looking at Jax through the window before he is killed he is in a sense saying goodbye to everyone.

AL: How did you go about choosing the Opie character as the one to die?
KS: From when we first see Opie in season one getting out of prison we notice his struggles to fit in. Not only is he trying to fit in with the club but he also is trying to do right by his family. After his wife is killed accidentally during a hit ordered by Clay is when you really start to see his decent. That arc was furthered by the death of Opie’s father Piney last season. Once Opie found out about all that went on and that Jax’s knew about it and didn’t tell him was when Opie was really tested. That family has endured so much that ultimately Opie chooses to stand up for the club and Jax by putting himself in the position to be the one to die per Pope’s request. Jax didn’t choose who was going to die and he probably never would. This was Opie’s way of doing right by everyone. Though that story arc comes to an end the lines between Jax and Pope are just beginning.

AL: Can you give us a little background on your use of brutality in this killing and a couple of others in the show?
KS: When I bring in an episode there are almost always some things that need to be cut out. The world we are showing is a brutal world where brutal things happen. In order for the stories to be told correctly a certain amount of those elements have to be present. The episode where Clay cuts a clowns scrotum off is a perfect example. During the shooting of that scene there was a shot that showed the scrotum lying on the floor as I felt it really sent a message. Did that make it in to the show? Obviously not, as it went too far. We had to cut that episode down to make the scene work while still including that brutal element. This was also the case with the killing of Opie. Sure I could have had Jax looking into the back of Opies caved in skull but I think that would have been too much and ultimately it was more dramatic the way you saw that scene. It’s funny because I actually have a sticker on my mirror now that says “You cannot show the clown scrotum”. (Laughs)

AL: The show has really great casting and each season it seems to get better and better. What do you look for when casting roles on the show?
KS: The first thing is I don’t want them to be dick! That really is the first piece of research I do. I like my set to stay a safe, creative and nurturing environment. I do my homework to ensure I’m not bringing a pre-Madonna into my world. Then it is really about the level of their work. This season with Jimmy Smits and Harold Perrineau they have a tremendous body of work that I am aware of. We try to make interesting casting choices. The obvious choice for the Damon Pope character would have been picking an actor that plays more hard or dangerous. We wanted to break that so we looked for a guy who could sort of compartmentalize that danger and hardness and tuck it into the pocket of his Prada suit. Harold was a wonderful choice for the role as he can go dark and scary but, for the most part there is something warm and almost vulnerable about him. These things make him a very interesting antagonist. As the season progresses you will start to see this weird mentorship type thing happen between Pope and Jax. When you think about it in terms of what Jax wants to do with the club Pope is the perfect guy for that. Pope is a guy who turned all of his dirty business in to very legitimate things. I couldn’t avoid that obvious circumstance. With Jimmy Smits I had the idea for his character but I didn’t know what world he was going to play in. I wanted him to be an outlaw but not another biker. I felt like we had the African-American dynamic with Pope and the Niner’s so I sort of wanted to stay away from that world. We landed in the Latino ethnicity on terms of there are a lot of Latino gangs in the Stockton area. That’s where the roots of that character began. With Jimmy it was one of those instances where I was able to start at the top and get the guy I wanted. This is not always the case. Not that you don’t ultimately end up on a great actor but I have had 2 or 3 circumstances in my career where I thought that this role needs to be this specific person and this was one of those times. The last time I think that happened in terms of guest stars was when Forrest Whitaker appeared on “The Shield”. I remember going in with the idea of getting him but knowing it probably would never happen. It was the same thing with Jimmy when I went to the network with it. We were able to sit down with Jimmy and get him excited about the role and wanting to come in and do it.

AL: You have stated that the season 7 will be the last season of the show. Is this still the case?
KS: I have said that quite a bit and talked in length on the subject. But as the show continues on with season after season budgets inevitably increase. After a certain amount of time there is just not enough left on the bone for the show to be economically viable. The people at FX have been very generous in allowing me to do what I do and I am sure that if I start to think that I can’t wrap up the story in 7 seasons they would probably allow me to make 7 or 8 more episodes to get it done. However looking at my giant story board I think I am going to be able to wrap things up in 7 seasons.

Harold Perrineau talks about his role on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy”

Harold Perrineau is currently playing the role of Damon Pope in FX’s “Sons of Anarchy”. He joined the cast of the show this season with it’s all-star cast. Harold is known for his roles in shows like “Oz” and “Lost”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Harold about his role and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you become involved in this show “Sons of Anarchy”?
Harold Perrineau: I knew they were looking for Damon Pope for a while. Kurt Sutter was tweeting about it and I followed him on Twitter. My wife is always reading it and one day she said, “You know, they still haven’t found Damon Pope, Maybe you should try to send Kurt an e-mail.” And so, I did and sent him an e-mail just to see if I could get a meeting with him and he took the meeting and we sat and talked about it. By the time I got home, he bravely said, “Let’s do it.” And so, there I am.

MG: Can you talk about kind of how you prepared for your role of Damon Pope and how you just go into that mindset?
HP: I had talked to Kurt Sutter a bit about the character. We talked at length a bit about his ideas about Damon Pope, some of the people that Damon Pope reminded him of; one of them being Frank Lucas who was the movie “American Gangster” that Denzel Washington did, was based on his life. And then, I started doing a bunch of research on my own about a different guys who took their sort of street life and then turned them into more legit businesses and that’s kind of how I sort of setup Damon Pope and how he might think or the way he may act in retaliation to things that are very emotional for him like that. So, basically, I just sort of pulledon these different sorts of businessmen and gangsters who I thought had similar kinds of backgrounds.

MG: Listen, so in this show, everyone’s a bad ass, how does it feel coming into this during its fifth season and playing the main baddie?
HP: It was a little daunting I have to say because they are a bunch of dudes who play bad asses. They’re great actors and they do really, really well. And so, I felt in the very beginning it was going to be sort of interesting trying to ingratiate myself into this group of guys while also keeping a bit of distance because I knew that my character is just going to be an adversary and I didn’t want any of my own personal feelings about liking them or any of that stuff to come across with Damon Pope because I think Damon Pope is very focused and serious about what he needs done and wants to do. So, it was a little tricky, but they’re a great cast of people and great actors. And so, they made it really, really easy.

MG: So, what was it about Pope that you liked?
HP: I like the show Sons of Anarchy. I like Kurt Sutter. I like the idea of this guy who’s not just rolling in as some gangster to be tough, but he’s a guy who just lost his child. One of the things that I felt like might be really challenging and kind of fun is to see if the audience members just go like, “Oh, he’s just a terrible guy” or if someone can go, “Hey, if somebody had killed my daughter for a frivolous reason that ‘Tig’ killed his daughter, what would I do” and actually have some empathy for “Pope.” I’m really curious about whether that will ever play out, or if it’s just going to be like, “He’s just a bad dude.” So, for me I thought that was an interesting thing to try to spot and then try to bring to the character.

MG: Have you had a chance to see any of the fan reaction to your character so far either from your existing fans who have followed you to this series or fans of “Sons of Anarchy”
HP: Because of all the social media stuff, yes. Right after the opening episode, the very first episode, I gained a whole lot more Twitter followers and people who were really excited about it, people who were really happy to see me, had seen me do other things before, people who had never seen my work before, people who were really mad at Damon Pope, but super excited about what was going to happen next. And so, pretty immediately I got to experience a lot of the “SOA” fans.

MG: What else can we expect from Pope in the coming episodes?
HP: You can expect a guy who is looking for satisfaction and he will not be denied. He wants some satisfaction for the death of his daughter and he won’t be denied, period.

Attika 7’s Rusty Coones talks about music and appearing in “Sons of Anarchy”

Rusty Coones is the guitarist and founding member of the band Attika 7. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Rusty recently about the band’s formation and his upcoming appearance on season 5 of Sons of Anarchy.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us what made you want to form the band?
Rusty Coones: It was not planned at all. In 1999 I caught a Federal case for conspiracy to distribute a listed chemical. But before all of that I had played guitar since I was around the age of 9 and took lessons into my teens where I learned to read and write music. I had songs structures in my head and even though I wasn’t playing in bands I still loved music. When I went into prison I spent a lot of time in solitary confinement. When you’re inside you spend a lot of time getting in your own head. The first few years I was in there I read a lot of books and wrote a lot for my website freerusty.com. I had a lot of follows worldwide and though it’s not currently active the site is still up. I was in the metropolitan detention center in Los Angeles about 2 years before I received my sentence. I was then sent to a prison Oregon. While there I was working out with weights 5 days a week. Right by where the weights were was a music room. If you signed up for that program you had to actively participate with a group. I would walk past that room everyday and I just became really inspired. I ended up going in and began playing with a band that was already there. They played mostly blues, rock. The first day I was there I asked if I could bring in a song I had written. They were very receptive to that. We got to go in that room twice a week and each time I would bring new songs. Most of the songs at that time had that blues, rock sound. A couple months later there was a riot in the yard resulting in a bunch of us being sent to other prisons. I ended up at a prison in Texas. When you’re shipped to a new place you have to spend a certain amount of time in confinement before you can go in to the yard. 3 days after being released in to the yard I was playing a concert in front of 1,800 inmates. It was all songs I had written. That material was all blues, rock. During this time I started experimenting with drop tunings. When you’re playing in that dropped key there are some real sweet spots on the fret board. I wrote 32 songs while I was there. I still have all of my notes. When I got out it was my goal to assemble the best band of musicians I could to start a band with. There have been a few different lineups of the band since I started. Evan Seinfeld and I joined up about a year ago when I was looking for a fill in singer. Evan became hooked on the songs and he and I started working together. We re-worked some songs and wrote new material which is what makes up “Blood of my Enemies”.

AL: What was your song writing process like being allowed only limited resources for short periods of time?
RC: 90% of the songs that I write the riffs and music are done first. From there is usually when I start on the lyrics. As soon as they let me out in to the yard I would go grab a little box guitar and start working on my riffs. Once I got them dialed in and they were in my head I would go back to my cell and write line by line the verses, choruses and such. Every song that I wrote was never given a title. The songs named themselves by the time they were done. The first few lines of a song are always the most difficult for me. Once I have those, stuff just starts flowing.

AL: I assume a lot of the material was written about the situations you were encountering each day?
RC: Some of the songs for instance “Serial Killer” was written in the words of a serial killer. I of course am not a serial killer. I was in my cell and went really deep in to my imagination so I could get to a dark enough place to allow me to write like that. It was kind of like when an actor gets in to character before performing a role. I was around a few people in prison that were possessed pretty heavy so it wasn’t too hard to come up with this type of material. Some of the other songs are about being on the inside and what you have to do to adapt.

AL: How have the recent lineup changes helped the band progress?
RC: The band is a little different now. Tony Campos is a great bassist as is Scott our new bassist. Scott has more of a Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath style where Tony is a serious metal player that is very precise. I think that with the way the songs are now Scott learned to play the songs the way Tony played them. Scott didn’t get to put a lot of his flavor in yet but, I can see this is going to be a lot of fun. Scott loves to run around and play riffs. I love that type of feeling. Scotts playing is bringing a really cool flavor to the band. We want this band to be timeless and we aren’t trying to be trendy. Evan is melodic in his approach which I think only adds to that timeless feel we are looking for. We are not trying to sound like anyone or anything else. Whether that’s good or not that’s the way things ended up. These songs were written in a vacuum. At the time I didn’t have any music to listen to. I just had to draw from what was in my head. I had all these little pieces floating around of things I liked. I developed my own style from that.

AL: Can you tell us anything about your upcoming appearance on “Sons of Anarchy?
RC: I have already shot 2 episodes and in the coming weeks I will be shooting some more. I am really excited to be a part of the show. I play a character by the name of Quinn who is the president of the Nomads motorcycle club. There have been talks of this character since season 1 but this will be the first time he comes out of the shadows. It’s going to be really interesting.

AL: How did you first get involved with the show?
RC: Kurt Sutter is a very smart guy. When he started the show he really immersed himself in the outlaw biker culture. He learned everything he could learn. When he was looking to learn he wanted to learn from the best so he came to us. (Coones is the founder of the Orange County Chapter of the Hells Angels.)Kurt’s research paid off and he has a lot of really good people around him. The show is a dramatic television show. There has to be some dramatic elements to keep people watching. If anyone tuning in is saying certain things are “bullshit” it’s TV! It’s supposed to be entertaining. You don’t turn on the television to watch actual everyday realism. Yes the show has some realistic elements but there’s entertainment factors combined into that. I am honored to be a part of the show.

AL: Were there any aspects of the shoots so far that have been difficult?
RC: This show has been the most professional production that I have ever been a part of. There are stunt people and fight choreographers that cross every t and dot every i. Everything is very organized. Things like the fighting and such were second nature. (Laughs)

AL: What other projects do you have in the works?
RC: Attika 7 is waiting for the last few things to be completed for our U.S tour. The band is also doing a West Coast tour that will be announced in the near future. I have some television things in works as well however I can’t really say anything just yet about that. Things should be quite interesting.


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