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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Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse talk about new FX series “The Strain”

“The Strain” is a novel, which spawned a trilogy from Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, which also are co-creators, executive producers and writers for the new limited series on FX. Emmy® Award winning Writer and Producer Carlton Cuse (“Lost”) is serving as Executive Producer/Showrunner and Writer.

“The Strain” is a high concept thriller that tells the story of “Dr. Ephraim Goodweather,” the head of the Center for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City. He and his team are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism. As the strain spreads, Eph, his team, and an assembly of everyday New Yorkers, wage war for the fate of humanity itself.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with The Strain’s Co-Creator / Executive Producer / Director Guillermo del Toro and Show Runner / Executive Producer / Writer Carlton Cuse  about the new series and what we can expect.

Carlton, tell us how you first got involved in this project?
Carlton Cuse: I had read the first Strain novel as a fan of both Guillermo’s work, and also independently I knew Chuck Hogan, and so I was very curious to see what this collaboration would look like. And I was just intrigued by the subject matter. I had read the first novel when it came out in 2009 and really enjoyed it, and then basically about two years ago my agent called me up and said that there was some interest in doing The Strain as a television series and would I be interested in it. I went and met with Guillermo and I had a really good meeting, and I basically decided to get involved, for two reasons. One, because I had a lot of respect for Guillermo as a filmmaker and I thought, particularly in a monster show like this, that he’s one of the most imaginative guys out there in terms of creating creatures and worlds. And I also thought that embedded in the book was this fantastic opportunity to upend the vampire genre, as the vampire genre has sort of been overrun by romance, and that we had had our fill of vampires that we’re feeling sorry for because they had romantic problems. And it was time to go back to the conception of vampires as really scary, dangerous creatures, and in so doing that there was a way to kind of make a genre show that would be different than anything that was out there on the TV landscape.

Being a fan of the book series; what is your plan to incorporate the sequels into the series?
CC: Book one is season one, yes. We basically follow the narrative of the first book in the first season. The plan is that the show will run somewhere between three and five seasons, and as we work out the mythology and the storytelling for season two we’ll have a better idea of exactly how long our journey is going to be. But it won’t be more than five seasons, we’re definitely writing to an endpoint, and we’re following the path as established in Guillermo and Chuck’s novels. But obviously there’s a lot that’s also going to be added. The television show is its own experience, and there are new characters and new situations, different dramatic developments, so the show and the book can each be separately enjoyed. I think that the goal is not to literally translate the book into a television show. You want to take the book as a source of inspiration and then make the best possible television show that you can make. And I think Guillermo, Chuck, myself, all of us involved have basically said, okay, here’s the book, now how do we take the best stuff in here and then use that as elements and then make the best TV show we can. But we view the TV show as its own creation.

Scott Kirkland/PictureGroup

Guillermo del Toro: It was very clear from the start that we had the three books to plunder, but we also had the chance of inventing. We talked about milestones, that we want the milestones and the characters that are in the book to be hit, but with that it became very malleable. Carlton decided, I think very wisely in retrospect, it made perfect sense as a game plan to, for example, leave the origins of The Master, which we opened book one with for a second season, if we go that way, and, for example, bringing a set piece from book two to bookend the story of one character on season one. So, it’s a very elastic relationship that the series has with the book, but by that same token it’s very respectful and mindful of the things that will not alienate someone that likes the books. It should feel as seamless. And I think the decisions we have to understand when Carlton is guiding us through this new medium for the story, to trust and know that his decisions are guided by huge experience and a prestigious career.

Guillermo, how was the transition from feature films to cable television?
GDT: The transition came from both Chuck and I, it was very smooth in many ways because we had the chance to adapt the novels to comic book form with Dark Horse. And coming in we really sought Carlton’s guidance into this new form. I think there never has been an occasion in which our dialogue has seen anyone read the books and say, “This is not the way it’s in the books.” So that much was very satisfactory. For me as a producer and director, it was about having some of the quirks that come from a feature film. I asked FX to give us a long pre-production period so I could really plan out the makeup effects, the creature effects, the visual effects, all of which I have big experience with, in order to try to bring to the pilot a big scope feel to the series doing sophisticated effects and some set pieces, while staying on a fiscally responsible budget and managing. And from a director’s point of view it was the same on the pilot. I didn’t want to go back and say, can I get one day more? Can I do many extra hours? I wanted to fit in the sandbox what I was hoping would feel like a big pilot episode for a big series. And that pre-planning was crucial, but also adjusting the way I staged, the way I approach coverage, or storytelling, and yet not sacrificing anything. It was both some fiscal constraints, but creative absolute freedom, which was a huge thrill for me to get a phone call from John Landgraf before starting the series, saying to me, “We encourage creator content, we love Carlton, we love you, and we want you guys to do the most idiosyncratic, best version of the series that you can.”

Tonya Wise/PictureGroup

Can you tell us about the decision to do this as a limited series?
CC: I think that we’re moving into this new phase of television where I think audiences are really embracing stories with a beginning, middle, and end. And if you look at the success this season, for instance, of True Detective and Fargo, as well as the kind of incredible response that the end of Breaking Bad got, I think that you have to recognize that the audience wants to see stories that come to a conclusion. They want the full and rounded experience. And television has been sort of a first act and sort of an endless second act, and I think that the best television now is giving you a three act experience. And I think that that’s what we want to do with our show.
GDT: I agree with Carlton. I think one of the things that we made essential when we pitched the series everywhere, and certainly at FX, is we came in and we said we are not going to be extending beyond the—we presented two arcs, one that can fulfill three or four seasons, and hopefully the second or third book are complex enough that they can generate a fifth one. But we literally said it needs to end when it needs to end, and that was a central part of finding a home for the series.

Can you talk about the creature development for this show?
Yes. I’ve been obsessed by vampires for a long, long time, since I was a very young kid, and a very strange kid. I read about vampire mythology worldwide and I familiarized myself with the Japanese, Filipino, Malaysian, and Eastern European variations on the vampire, and many, many others. And I kept very detailed notes as a kid on where to go with the vampire myth in terms of brutality, social structure, biology, this and that, and some of those notes made it into my first feature, Cronos, some of them made it in Blade II, when I directed that, and most of them made it into The Strain. And designing them, we knew and we had it very clear that, for example, The Master needed to be hidden for at least half the season or more to not make him that accessible. I came up with the idea that this guy that has been alive for centuries and essentially is an apex of the Dark Ages in the middle of a world of imminent modernity. You have people with cell phones, jet airplanes, iPads, texting, Internet, all of that, and in the middle of it there is a 9 foot tall, hand carved coffin with a creature that has been alive for centuries. And it’s ancient, and that’s what makes it powerful, that it doesn’t care about any of the modern accoutrements of mankind that gives mankind such a false sense of security. And The Master needed to look that ancient, so we decided that he was going to become his wardrobe and that eventually when he reveals himself you have a second layer. So we designed the wardrobe, the cape and the multiple layers of clothes that are falling apart, because he has an accumulation of clothes over the 1800s, 1900s, 21st century, he’s just accumulating rags, and he needed to look like a lump, like a bunch of rags thrown on the floor, then come alive, and out of all these rags comes out this incredibly glistening and viscerally biological appendage that then drains the first victim. And that’s the way we started guiding the process of designing The Master. And the more we go into the season, the more you see of him and the more you discover layer after layer of that creature design.

What about FX made you decide the network was the right place for The Strain?
GDT: We had a fantastic first meeting, if I may say so. We had an incredible meeting in which the very head of the network and everybody in that room knew patently well and intimately the three books. And yet they were excited by Carlton, they were excited by the possibility of not just doing the books but where would Carlton take it as a show runner, they were excited about, okay, that’s the universe, but we see many more possibilities than that. That made it very unique in our eyes. And they celebrated the aspects of the series that were edgier, or less of a kind that we have seen before. The other thing for me that was unique is I’m a follower of the brand, I’m a big FX fan, and they give you time to find your footing. They give you time to establish, especially in a genre like this, you know you cannot just do everything at once, reinvent everything at once. You either reinvent the characters in a genre story, or you reinvent the generic traits with characters that you’re able to place in the normal canon of the genre and then little by little evolve those characters, and that needs time. And FX has been known to be supportive of series that find their footing and creatively allow them to explore anything from characters you’ve seen before that then transform into things that are new, or concepts that are very new that go to daring places. So, it made it a unique place for the show.

CC: I would just add to everything that Guillermo said, that again we were presenting them with a very specific business model about how we wanted to approach the show, that we wanted to have the show last between three and five seasons, that we needed them to spend a bunch of money up front to do the R&D and the work that was necessary to do the world building for our show, and they would have to spend money up front on writing a bunch of scripts. And they jumped in wholeheartedly and they embraced the way in which we wanted to produce the show, as well as our creative vision, and we felt incredible confidence coming out of our meetings with them that they were the exact right partners for us.

Nick Swardson talks about film “Back in the Day” and FX new series “Chozen”

Nick Swardson is probably best known for his role in “Grandma’s Boy” and cameo appearances in numerous Happy Madison films, but a quick look at his career shows that he’s an incredibly busy guy. For people who aren’t familiar with Swardson’s work, he started doing stand-up at age 18 and since then has gone on to produce, write and act. Die hard fans have known this for years that he’s constantly writing, acting and working on fresh material for his stand-up. Media Mikes had the chance to catch up with Nick and ask him about the numerous TV and movie projects he’s been working on for 2014, as well as a new comedy special.

Jeremy Werner: It looks like you got a busy year ahead of you…especially this month. Let’s start off with “Back in the Day” which comes out on January 17th. How did you land the role of Ron?
Nick Swardson: Michael Rosenbaum, the director/writer, is a buddy of mine and he just called me up and he’s like, “Man I got this passion project I’m doing. It’s low budget. We have no money.” He goes, “It’s a great character. You’ll kill it. We’ll shoot in Indiana. It’d be fucking great to have you.” So he sent me the script and I thought it was a really funny character and it was something different than what I’ve done in the past. Ya know, it wasn’t a crazy character. It was a grounded, real dude. So I was pretty stoked. So as a favor to Michael too, I wanted to help him out. So I did it.

JW: Was there anything you had to differently than in past roles?
NS: It was just a lot more understated. I didn’t have to come in to the scene and be insane. This role is also based on a real guy so I was kind of interested to play a real dude…and I talked to Michael a lot about what this guy was like. So it was fun to play a real person.

JW: Was it a role that he had you in mind for the entire time he was writing it?
NS: He had the script for like 10 years. He had it for a long time. So I don’t know who he had initially envisioned, but he called me first.

JW: Now also this month, you have a big release on TV. “Chozen” premieres January 13th on FX and you play Troy. What can you tell us about that character?
NS: Troy plays Chozen’s nerdy, minion friend. He kind of saves him from bullies and so they become pals. Chozen shows him this whole world of sex and drugs. It’s pretty funny. The show’s pretty crazy..it’s one of the craziest things I’ve done and I’ve done a lot of crazy shit. Working with Danny McBride is awesome. His company is amazing. I love all the “Eastbound and Down” guys…it’s FX, so they really push the envelope.

JW: As a comedian, does voice acting provide you a lot of opportunities to improvise or are you restricted?
NS: No. I’m never restricted in anything I do. I only do projects where I can bring a lot to the table. I use to get fired just because I improvised a lot. It’s the main thing I do, I love improvising.

JW: I’ve read that usually in voice acting, you’re just kind of in a booth on your own. Who were you able to bounce jokes and ideas off of with your character?
NS: Usually you’re all alone…you’re just sitting in a booth and the producers are in the other room, so you just kind of run with it. They’ll give you a thumbs up if it’s good or they’ll do the heads up and tell you if it works. They’ll just feed you ideas…but it’s a great gig.

JW: Later this year you’ll also be voicing a character in the animated movie, “Hell & Back”. You actually voiced a character in the kid’s movie “Bolt”, but based on the premise I was reading…this is not a kid’s movie.
NS: (Laughs) Yeah, that’s pretty insane. It’s stop motion, so it looks like a kid’s movie. So if a kid saw it on TV he’d be like, “Oh! I wanna see this!” But it’s a hard, hard ‘R’. That’s another project that me and Danny McBride are both in with TJ Miller and Mila Kunis. It’s a great cast and that one’s gonna be really awesome. We’re finishing that up this week. I’ve got like one more record session…we’re really excited about that.

JW: Now with all these projects, are you working on any comedy specials this year?
NS: Yeah, I’ve been developing for the last two years, a new hour special and a new tour. So we’re looking to tour in the Spring…early Summer. Shoot the special maybe sometime in the Summer. It’s definitely in the works. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m really excited..it’s coming together really well.

JW: Anything you can tell us about it?
NS: It’s just more stories, drinking jokes and it’s nothing too out of the box. I’m not all of a sudden really political. If you’re a fan of mine, you’ll be happy with it. The new hour’s going really well. I think the title of it is gonna be, ‘Taste It’.

JW: I know last year you were talking about a show you were working on called “Bro-Sassin”. How is that coming along?
NS: Bro-Sassin’s done. It didn’t fly. The network just didn’t get it. They thought it was gonna be too expensive…so they kind of backed off it, which bums me out, man. I wrote the pilot and it was really funny. People loved it, I’m gonna save the idea for a movie. I sold a new show to FX. My own show with the director of “Grandma’s Boy” and Danny McBride’s producing it. It’s called “Game On”. It’s like the office of a video game company…so we’re developing the pilot right now.

JW: Does that have any connections to “Grandma’s Boy”?
NS: Not really.

JW: Looks like you got a lot of stuff going on, is there anything else you’re working on for later this year?
NS: A lot of it depends on the pilot with FX and shooting that, seeing if we get picked up. That’s the primary focus right now. I’m developing two other feature scripts. So if this FX pilot grows, I’m gonna jump into an idea I sold to Sandler and Happy Madison and I’ll hopefully write that next Fall and start developing that.

Bobby Moynihan and Method Man talk about FX’s new comedy “Chozen”

On Monday January 13th, FX will debut its animated comedy, Chozen from the creators of Archer and Eastbound and Down. Chozen stars Bobby Moynihan as the eponymous openly gay rapper who’s fresh out of a ten year prison sentence and looking to make it big on the music scene while getting revenge on those who put him in the slammer. I got to catch up with stars Moynihan and Method Man along with creator Grant Dekernion and executive producer Tom Brady at this year’s New York Comic Con.

Bobby Moynihan (this writer’s favorite Saturday Night Live cast member) was eager to join the cast of the show,  “I got the thing that said ‘do you want to put yourself on tape for this?’ where I had the drawing of all the characters and I saw—I was a big Archer fan—so I saw that and it was just like ‘I want to do this.’…I called my agents every single day. Like 9 o’clock in the morning, ‘hey found anything out about Chozen?’” This isn’t to say Moynihan identifies with the brash character, “he just says and does whatever he wants…he walks in the room, his sister’s having sex with somebody and he’s just like, [dropping into Chozen’s voice] ‘Ooh, you havin’ sex? Good for you!’ He’s just pumped about things. I feel like I would be like ‘Oh my god, I’m so sorry! I apologize!’ And then never talk to my sister again…Just everything he’s thinking is just out there.” The comedian did add a personal touch to how he sees Chozen spending his time in jail though. “In my mind he just spent a lot of time aggressively going after taking what he wanted and just watching Lost…I keep saying it so hopefully it will come out. I’m a weird Lost nerd…I want to do a whole episode where it’s just him in jail watching Lost.” Would Chozen then have enjoyed that drama’s finale? “YES. YES” Moynihan says emphatically of his cartoon alter ego before adding, “It was perfect, I truly loved it.”

Moynihan is also a talented improvisational comedian, notably appearing recently on IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang! as murderous orphan Fourvel (it’s one less than Fievel). “I didn’t really have much other than the name [and] that one joke” Moynihan says, “Just being able to improvise with Scott [Aukerman] and Paul F. Tompkins was a blast.” Fortunately we’ll get to hear Moynihan improvise in Chozen as well—“I feel very very lucky. It’s a lot of fun improvising and a lot of ‘oh my god, that was crazy, don’t use that…I don’t want the people to hear the fact that I said those things!”

Method Man plays Phantasm, the villainous ex-band mate of Chozen who was responsible in setting up the drug bust that puts Chozen behind bars. The rapper maintains that the sleazy voice he lends to Phantasm “comes from a family member named Daddio…you know, he smokes these backwoods cigars and it’s gotten to the point where his voice is so low you can’t even hear him!” Despite his background however, Method Man maintains he’s not behind the musical writing of the series “since I’m playing a character and not Method Man, no, I will not” although he’s not ruling it out adding, “if they gave me a shot to, maybe.”

 Behind the songwriting, and singing voice of Chozen is creator Grant Dekernion who was asked if we can expect more musical acts to come on the show in the future, he explained: “Obviously we got Method Man which blew my mind—and that’s definitely helped us open doors. You know, we’re hoping later this season we might see some more musical acts, I think once the show comes out and people get behind it and see what it’s about, that’s definitely something we can play with in the future. But I think just a lot of people are just curious to see it.”

Both Dekernion and executive producer Tom Brady are particularly excited to be creating the show for the FX network. “Been doing this a little while and you know, I’ve been part of shows that have been on networks and different cable shows and stuff and this is the right show for the right network” says Brady. “The content, the subject matter, FX seems to invest in voices. In this case, Grant’s, from his brain. And if they buy into it, they support it, they let you grow and they nurture it.” Other FX hits include It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League. Of the creative teams behind those shows, Brady adds “we’ve heard them talk about how supportive FX has been and them finding what identity those shows have, so that’s been kind of cool for us to think ‘hey, maybe we could be like that.’”

Check out Chozen Monday January 13th at 10:30pm on FX.

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.