The FX Network drama Sons of Anarchy tells the story of Jackson “Jax” Teller (Charlie Hunnam), SAMCRO’s Vice-President and the son of John Teller, founder of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club. His mother, Gemma (Katey Sagal), is married to SAMCRO President Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman), whom she married after the death of her first husband, Jax’s father.
Just when viewers thought things couldn’t get more emotional than last season’s horrific gang rape of Gemma, the finale saw her framed for murder and on the lam, and Jax’s infant son kidnapped by a member of the IRA. The highly anticipated third season, premiering on September 7th, picks up with the Sons reeling from the aftermath and Jax in deep turmoil over his future with the club.
During a recent interview, co-stars Charlie Hunnam and Katey Sagal talked about the intense emotions of Season 3, expanding the story internationally, and getting to live and work in a world that is dark and dangerous, but ultimately about the strength of family. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Katey: Well, she’s on the lam. At the end of Season 2, she definitely had some peace of mind, as she was able to avenge her captors. So, her initial response is, “Oh, good,” and then her very next thought is, “Uh oh, I’m away from my family, I’m sequestered and I can’t see anybody,” which is exactly the thing she hates the most. The thing she loves the most is being with her family. At a certain point, Hal Holbrook, who plays Gemma’s father, comes into the story and we find out a little bit more about why a sweet girl like Gemma joined a motorcycle club. We find out more about her backstory. She’s initially not really privy to what’s been going on at home, but eventually, she’s brought up to speed.
Charlie, what is Jax’s journey this season?
Charlie: It’s a darker Jax than we’ve seen so far. The coolest thing about this season, for me, as an audience member and a fan of this subculture, is that we get to explore a little bit more of the international sense of these clubs. All of these motorcycle clubs are big international entities, and it’s one of the most exciting and interesting of the American exports. It’s been isolating. We’ve been in the insular world of Charming, up until now. Our pursuit of Abel really breaks open the world and we get to explore what that is a little bit.
Did you guys get to shoot in Ireland at all?
Katey: We would have liked to.
Charlie: There’s only so much you can and want to do, to put yourself in that horrible place. Anybody could imagine what that would feel like. At least for me, in my preparation, I’d push myself to the point where I felt it a little bit and then say, “Okay, now I know where I’ve got to get to on the day, but I don’t want to get there again until I have to.” So, I do it as lazily as possible.
Katey: As an actor, it’s a weird combination of enjoying it because it’s what we do and you get to expand yourself a little bit, but you don’t want to live there. You have to find a happy medium.
What’s going to happen with this kidnapping?
Katey: You’re going to have to watch.
Charlie: I think a lot of people are going to be sorry that they had anything to do with it.
How has it been to have Titus Welliver back on the show?
Charlie: Titus is back and there are some other really wonderful actors this season too. The thing with this show is that it continually manages to identify and then procure the best guys for the role. An amazing supporting cast has come in this year, of which Titus is one of them. There are some pretty exciting faces in there.
Given everything that’s been happening, will viewers learn more about John Teller this season?
Katey: I think the intention of the whole series is that we will constantly be learning more of the backstory of John Teller, and yes, we do.
Charlie: Us going to Ireland and actually being in Ireland, you learn that John Teller had a lot to do with Ireland and the origin of gun-running in the Sons of Anarchy. So, through us going to Ireland, we learn a little bit more about him.
Katey: It’s really fascinating, and it’s great to get this scripts because we don’t really know. Even though I’m married to Kurt, I never know what’s going on. We get the script and we’re like, “Wow, really?” Every week, it’s a big surprise and a pleasant surprise. Also, you have to really pay attention. There’s a lot going on.
Katey, when your husband (executive producer/writer/director Kurt Sutter) first created this role for you, how did you have the patience to not read the script until he was done with it?
Katey: I wouldn’t even think to go in and sneak a peek at what Kurt was writing because it’s not done until it’s done. He had told me that he was writing a show about this world and said, “I think there’s going to be a role for you,” so I was very excited to see what it was, but I had no idea that it would be what it was. With what we do, something is not real until it’s real, so it was all very nice conversation, and I was just glad that it ended up actually happening.
How did you feel about how your character evolved last season?
Katey: In terms of what happened this last season, I felt that Kurt did explain the story to me that he was trying to tell, and the piece of the puzzle that Gemma would be providing. As an actor, I was really excited to be able to go to this place. All these people live in a world of secrets. It’s just an interesting place to work when you’re having to be duplicitous and hold secrets. That was the arc that Gemma had this past season and, as an actor, it was a learning experience.
This show manages to make heroes out of these characters that are normally villains because they kill people and deal in weapons and drugs. Charlie, do you feel that there is a line you can’t cross, in terms of what these characters can do, so that you avoid turning the audience off to them?
Charlie: I never think of Jax as a good guy or a bad guy. I just try to find the truth in the situation that he’s in. For me, thinking about how the audience will receive something is corrupting to the process. I don’t really think about that. I just try to be very honest and to really do justice to these people and to the great writing, and let Kurt worry about that, if anyone is going to worry about it. But, I don’t think really it’s necessary. It corrupts the storytelling, if you’re worried about how it’s going to be received. What Kurt does wonderfully is fearlessly tell the stories he wants to tell, and just try to honor that or my part of that.
The lack of Emmy recognition, despite all the critical praise and the high ratings, is very perplexing. How do you feel about that situation?
Charlie: Honestly, and this is kind of controversial, so I’m sure I’ll garner a little bit of disappointment or confusion from colleagues, I personally was really happy. I don’t subscribe to Emmys or awards, or any of that shit. I think it’s all a crock of shit, and I think it’s corrupting. I was happy that we weren’t on the receiving end of a force that could change the dynamic that we have because I think it’s working. It’s an environment where we’re able to do good work and feel fulfilled as artists. All of that crap is secondary and completely unimportant, but does have the potential to ruin a good thing. So, fuck ‘em.
This series is based on a very real segment of society. Have you heard from the non-outlaw recreational motorcycle club community about their feelings on the show?
Charlie: I have, at great length. They tell me that I shouldn’t wear white sneakers, and I say, “Well, you wear biker boots because you’re a dentist.” We get much more praise from the outlaw community. It’s funny. Anytime I’ve ever gotten any kind of criticism or people questioning the integrity of our show, it’s always from those that don’t really know. The people that actually know this world inside and out, know that we are a slightly heightened version of the reality and they really appreciate the honesty and integrity that we handle their world with. But, it’s been very, very few and far between that anybody has ever had anything negative to say to me. Outlaw or weekend warrior, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. The only criticism I ever get is about those white fucking tennis shoes that I wear, which will be an ongoing battle for the duration of this show, but they’re not going anywhere.
Katey: What I really love is how they respond to the family nature of the show. It’s a dark, violent world, but within that world, there’s really a lot of emotional connection that goes on. That’s what’s been fascinating about it, for all of us. It’s a three-dimensional picture of a subculture. You’re not just getting the stereotypical bang-bang, shoot ‘em up picture of them. What I like is when people really emotionally respond to the connection that Gemma has with her son, or the kind of good marriage that Clay and Gemma have.
SONS OF ANARCHY returns for Season 3 on FX on September 7th