Without question, the FX series Sons of Anarchy is one of the strongest dramas currently on television, thanks to the incredibly talented ensemble of actors and always surprising storytelling. Throughout Season 4, viewers are getting to learn more about the personal history and relationships of many of the SAMCRO members that they’ve only gotten to catch glimpses of, up until now. One such character is Philip Russell, aka Filthy Phil (Christopher Reed), one of the club prospects who is getting to showcase his personality and loyalty, in a way that makes it easy to understand why SAMCRO would want him around.
During a recent interview to promote his work on the popular series, actor Christopher Reed talked about what this role has done for his confidence as an actor, how his life has changed since working on the show, how generous and kind the cast has been to him, and that he hopes to continue growing in his work. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
CHRISTOPHER DOUGLAS REED: Well, a ton, actually. It’s been extremely amazing, and I’ve been very fortunate because this was my first job in television. I had done professional theater before, but never anything in front of the camera. And, the role started off as just somebody who was around and being introduced to the club and the viewers, and it’s grown to what it is now. It’s been really great. It’s just been a blast, being able to hang around set and learn from the folks, like Ron Perlman, Kim Coates and Charlie Hunnam. It’s just been fantastic, and my confidence level has risen pretty much with every episode.
How has your life changed, as you work on the show?
REED: That’s a difficult question because it’s changed in a lot of ways. For instance, I was born and raised in San Diego. I just moved to Los Angeles, and probably wouldn’t have done that without Sons of Anarchy. And, this past season, I was really fortunate and did some work on some other TV programs that I’m not sure, without the Sons on the résumé, I would have gotten. And, just the whole experience has been so fantastic. It’s hard to list all the ways that my life’s changed, but it’s definitely been a significant upswing.
Playing a prospect, does that influence your behind the scenes relationship with the cast?
REED: That’s a great question. When I first got on set, it was my first TV job, so there was a little bit of apprehension there. The first thing I filmed was the prospects getting brought into the clubhouse, and then into the chapel and receiving their cuts. That’s just an ominous moment, I’d imagine, for anybody who’s trying to get patched in. It definitely helped feed what was going on, in terms of my real life, in that I’m a new guy coming in and everybody had been on set for three seasons, so everybody had already built up a certain measure of things. But, the guys were so great. Charlie Hunnam, for instance, within a week, gave me a place to stay because I didn’t live L.A., at the time. They’ve all been extremely generous, and they’ve all been extremely kind, in their support. There’s just a definite comradery on that show, amongst the boys, that makes it unique from what I’ve seen in other jobs that I’ve done, and on other shows. It really transfers over to the screen. We all care about each other. We all have a blast going to work, and I think that shows.
REED: Well, in San Diego, there’s a fairly active culture going on, and I grew up hearing tales from one guy who’s a member of one of the bigger clubs. As far as my opinions go, I guess I never really thought about it too much because it’s not something that’s really exposed much in our culture, or talked about. So, being on the show has definitely forced me to do more research and look into it more, and my opinions are more strongly formulated now. There are certain aspects of the culture that are tough to look at and tough to think about. And then, there are other aspects, like the mutual respect that everybody has for each other, which is a big thing for me in my personal life. I think we should respect everyone around us, and who we interact with. It’s number one, in that light. Respect is given, and respect is definitely received.
How did you go from living in San Diego to working on Sons of Anarchy?
REED: It was a lot of driving up and back for auditions. I did a professional play, called Tobacco Road, at La Jolla Playhouse, which is one of the country’s best regional theaters. I played the role of a glorious Georgia cracker, and it was a blast. From there, I got an agent, but it took me about a year to year and a half, to book any sort of job. I did a Sprint commercial, and then a few months after that, I got the Sons gig. It was just a lot of driving, and a lot of going out for calls and doing that thing. It’s something where you’ve got to just keep planting the seeds. Finally, I got really lucky with Sons. The casting director on it is one of my favorite people in this town. She’s always been great to me. I actually auditioned for a smaller role, at first. I auditioned for the role of “head redneck” in Episode 4 of last season. If you remember, he was the guy that Piney (William Lucking) hit in the face with a shotgun. I’m sure that was a blast, but I was really fortunate when they told me I got Filthy Phil.
REED: Yes, absolutely. I’m just working and trying to keep doing more stuff. I go out. I’m not your Hollywood guy. I’m not 180 pounds and 6 feet tall, so I don’t go out a ton, like some of my other friends who go out six or seven times a week. But, I’m fortunate, in that I’m not that type. When I do get to go out, it’s a more limited amount of people in the room, and I actually know a few of the guys I audition with all the time. It’s a small community, as it were. So, I just go out as much as I can, when we’re not working on the show. I love being on the Sons set because it is a measure of comfort that I’m going to be there for at least a few weeks, during the season.