Showrunner Kurt Sutter and Director Paris Barclay Talk SONS OF ANARCHY Season 7, Ending the Series, Character Deaths, Adding Marilyn Manson, and More

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The seventh and final season of Sons of Anarchy is premiering on FX on September 9th.  The world of SAMCRO has always been a very violent one and, with each season, viewers have wondered who would make it out alive.  But in the final stretch, things are bound to be more bloody for everyone, as we see who’s still left standing, at the end of it all.

While at Comic-Con for a presentation in Hall H, show creator Kurt Sutter and executive producer/director Paris Barclay spoke to press about still not being sure of the specifics of the series finale, the theme for this last season, the one character they wish they’d had more time to explore, where the external threat is coming from, where Marilyn Manson fits into the mix, bringing Walton Goggins back as Venus Van Dam, that every episode this season is packed with more plot, more story and more characters than ever before, and that the club will never be the same, when all is said and done.  Check out what they had to say about Sons of Anarchy Season 7 after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.

sons-of-anarchy-season-7-charlie-hunnamQuestion:  Kurt, how difficult was it to figure out the ending of the series, and how much have your plans changed, over the years?

KURT SUTTER:  I haven’t written it yet.  I was very aware, coming into this season, that I wasn’t writing the final season, I was writing the next season.  I don’t think of it in terms of, “This is the final season.  Am I going to get to that place?”  We’ve been building and building and building and building.  I always have a sense of where I want to end each season, emotionally and relationship wise and with the theme, and I’m always able to hit that.  I’m never quite sure how I’m going to get there, in terms of narrative.  I try to leave that loose.  I have a great team of writers, and as we break each episode, the A-story that’s the big action narrative engine will get tweaked a little bit and go in a different direction, as we go, “That’s cool.  Let’s try that.”  When you pile up enough of those, things look different than you had anticipated.  To me, the fun of the job is not quite knowing what it’s all going to look like.  My production team doesn’t like not knowing what anything is going to look like, but creatively, that’s fun.

Paris, what would you say the theme is, for this last season?

PARIS BARCLAY:  The theme is what Arthur Miller says is the theme for every drama, which is that the chickens come home to roost.  All of the things that we’ve done, most of which have been bad, over seven seasons, eventually people have to pay for.  And that happens on an individual level, with many of our characters, and it happens on a meta level for the show.  We’ve gotten away with a lot of shit.  I’m not just talking about shooting 12 Chinese people in a warehouse.  We’ve gotten away with stuff that, in the real world, I don’t think could go on as long as this.  So, in the final season, people have to pay, and they will.

sons-of-anarchy-wolfsangel-2Over the years, is there one character you wish you’d had more time to explore?

BARCLAY:  I would like to know Bobby more.  He’s really interesting, to me, as a character and as an actor.  I would have liked to have seen him more.  I’ve got a good beat on Tig.  We know what’s happening with Juice.  He’s been through a lot.  He’s been black, and he’s been suicidal.  He’s been through a lot of changes.  But, I’ve always felt that Bobby has always been under-served.  We’re doing a little bit more with Chibs this season.  He’s going to step out and have some romance.  You’ll see a little bit more with him.  But if I were doing it all over again, I’d like to know a little bit more about what makes Bobby tick.  In some ways, he’s one of the most authentic biker characters in the posse, and I would have loved to have seen more of him. 

There’s always a villainous element to every season, and there’s a definitely focus on Jax and Gemma, but what can you say about the brewing war with the Mayans?  Is it really going to be brown and yellow vs. black and white?

SUTTER:  Yeah, absolutely!  The fun thing for me this year is that we have some new guest stars, but for the most part, it’s worlds and people and organizations that we’ve already invested in, and I get to bring back great actors like Emilio [Rivera].  For me, it really mirrors the relationship that MCs have.  From year to year, you don’t know who is beefing with who because it changes based on street circumstances.  So, I love being able to stay real to the world and do all of that.  But that is definitely the external pressure that’s going on, as well as our hero coming out with a few personal things going on.  That will definitely be the pressure cooker this season. 

sons-of-anarchy-maggie-siff-charlie-hunnam-katey-sagalWe only see a glimpse in the premiere of how Marilyn Manson’s character will be connected with Jax.  How will that fit into the story?

SUTTER:  For me, Manson’s character is really a lot like the role that Otto served.  So much of what these guys do pivots on what happens inside because that’s where most of the shot-callers are.  To stay real, I really needed to find that character inside, and that’s the character that Manson plays.  A lot of it adds to the pressure cooker of black and white that’s going on outside, and that obviously impacts our hero and our club.  I think he’s in three or four episodes, and there are those scenes where we have these two shot-callers sitting down.  They’re kingmakers scenes, and they’re a lot of fun to play.  And Manson is doing a great job.  I think people will enjoy it.

You lost two great characters last season, with Maggie Siff and Ron Perlman being gone.  Was it odd not having them around?

BARCLAY:  Not so much.  I miss Maggie Siff.  Maggie Siff was such a strong presence on the show.  She was so great with us, as a crew.  Part of my job is that I have a crew of 200 people that I have to marshal to do every episode of Sons of Anarchy in seven days.  And so, the actor’s relationship to the crew is really a big dynamic that influences everything.  When actors are assholes, it becomes problematic.  When actors are great and sensitive and prepared, it makes a huge difference.  And there was not a day that we shot Maggie Siff when she didn’t make the crew happy, when she didn’t make the directors happy, and when she didn’t make everyone involved want to be on the show longer.  She came and visited the set with her baby and it stopped the shooting because everybody loved her so much.  It was very much like Jimmy Smits on NYPD Blue, when I did that show.  When Jimmy Smits left NYPD Blue, there was a hole in our heart, and a little bit of a hole in the show, too.  The crew loved him.  The fans loved him, but the crew loved him, too.  And Maggie Siff is very similar.  That loss, and that scene where she was killed, which took two days to shoot, was heartbreaking for all of us.  It was heartbreaking for Katey Sagal.  It was very difficult for her to get to the place where she could kill Maggie Siff’s character because they were really close friends and they became really important to the show.  That’s probably the biggest loss that we’re feeling right now.

sons-of-anarchy-season-7-walton-gogginsWhat can you say about bringing Walton Goggins back, as Venus Van Dam?

BARCLAY:  I’m so excited!  I’m a big fan of Venus Van Dam.  The breasts cost $6,000 every time he shows up on the show, but they look so good.  He is so committed to the part.  He comes to the set as Venus.  I’ve known Walton Goggins for a really long time.  He was in a movie I did for HBO, called The Cherokee Kid, way before The Shield and everything else.  And then, he comes as this shapely, bodacious woman, with the accent and the fingernails and the hair, and he’s not Walton anymore.  He’s lovely, in a really sweet way.  He’s got this whole mythology in his head about her and how she came to be, and every once in awhile, we leak it out.  This season, she talks a little bit more about how she made the transition from where she was to where she is now.  Whenever she comes, it’s another great example for the show to say, “The things you think about a racist biker club hating the world may not be as simple as that.”  They do love them some Venus Van Dam.  And some bikers love Venus Van Dam more than other bikers, if you know what I’m trying to say.  They definitely get involved with her, and she becomes the sexy lynchpin of a couple stories this season.

You’ve directed 14 episodes of Sons of Anarchy, and we know that death is coming and that we’re going to lose some characters.  How important is it to get that right, when you’re working on the final season?

BARCLAY:  That’s a good question.  It’s really important.  I’m acting as if it’s the first season.  I’m expecting that there are a number of people who are going to see the show that haven’t watched it before, but will because it’s the last season.  I think this season should be a roller coaster ride.  Every episode this season is packed with more plot, more story and more characters than we’ve done before.  Kurt really is getting two seasons in one.  We don’t want to double or super-size it.  We don’t want to split it over two years, just to make more money for the network like Mad Men did, not that that’s bad.  But what we do want to do is give the fans some really good, chunky episodes that are really filled with stuff, so that’s what we’re doing.  Every episode has been harder to produce because there’s more action and more drama in each episode, but they’ve also been more fun and more rewarding.  And in almost every episode now, someone is dying, so that makes it a little bit harder to shoot ‘cause we have to keep saying goodbye.

Is there going to be anyone left at the end of the season?

BARCLAY:  Yes, there will be someone left.  There will be more than one, but not a lot more.  There will be a table.  No.  I think I can say pretty safely that the club will not be the same, at the end of this season.  It’s not like we’re trying to save everything and set it up like we’re gonna do a movie, like everyone else does.  The story that Kurt wants to tell ends up with the chickens coming home to roost, so bad things are gonna happen.  It’s like The Godfather.  Not too many people that you saw at the beginning of The Godfather were there at the end.

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  • eternalozzie

    This series made my skin crawl … i watched the first 2 seasons like a car wreck I couldn’t turn away from … it made violent murders into heroes … it was so disturbing I finally had to stop watching … I have to say it was a very well acted and written show … the content just wasn’t tolerable for some reason … i thought i had a pretty thick skin but i was wrong.

    • Redjester

      I take it you couldn’t make it through Breaking Bad either?

      • eternalozzie

        Breaking Bad didn’t bother me at all … there just wasn’t any relatable characters for me so I lost interest. The same happened to The Walking Dead but I have got back into it this last season.

      • MJ

        This ain’t Breaking Bad…not even close…you can’t compare Spam to Filet Mignon.

    • LEM

      When did it make them heroes? They’re horrific people but that’s the show.

    • jack

      I never really understand people who find fictional violence disturbing. You know it’s fiction going in, is it really that hard to separate fiction from reality? Also these characters are never once looked at as heroes. I’ve heard that argument before and don’t get why people think they’re portrayed as heroes. There aren’t any good people in this show save for one or two, who are also bound to do some f’ed up stuff. It’s a show without any redeemable people.

      • eternalozzie

        don’t be a tool … it has nothing to do with telling the difference between reality and fiction … it is literally just this specific show … everything else doesn’t bother me at all … I have no rational explanation

      • HQuinzel12

        Hero’s in my world of view.

    • MJ

      Well said. The show is full of disgusting dumb-ass criminal dirtbag guys who I could care less about. And most of the women are skanks who are enablers of the men.

      What a shock (sarcasm) that to up the ratings, they are both bringing back the guy with tits, and are also bringing in creepy Marilyn Manson. All that’s missing now from the show is Lizardman.

      What an absolute sewer of a show.

      • LEM

        The funny thing is Walton Goggins (the guy with tits) is one of the only sympathetic characters on the show, not counting the little kids who are born into that shit life.

  • MJ

    Hopefully this dumb-ass show ends with somebody igniting a “Trailer Park Trash Bomb” that wipes them all out.

    • Leroy

      I always love people who describe things they don’t like as dumb. It’s not your kind of show? That’s cool. Many have watched the show and love it. I’m sure there are shows you like that I don’t like, but that doesn’t make them dumb in my eyes.

      • Ellen

        Except that this person is correct. This show highlights what is basically a bunch of scumbags that no one would ever want as neighbors.

      • LEM

        TV is escapism and if they differ in what they want to indulge in it doesn’t make it stupid. You can take almost any show, high brow or low, and see some horrid portrayals of human nature to some degree.

      • MainFragger

        The original concept of the show started out that the Biker gang had a lot of respect in the town because even though they were into crime, they always helped make sure the town was a safe and prosperous place. But when they got into gun running and drugs, that took a left turn into oblivion. They have made several references over the past season and a half that indicated that their “popularity” in town was starting to wane..

      • MainFragger

        The original concept of the show started out that the Biker gang had a lot of respect in the town because even though they were into crime, they always helped make sure the town was a safe and prosperous place. But when they got into gun running and drugs, that took a left turn into oblivion. They have made several references over the past season and a half that indicated that their “popularity” in town was starting to wane..

      • LEM

        This is why Clay killed John Teller and the club transformed into what they are now. Jax was supposed to continue his fathers legacy and bring the club back but he’s been corrupted for too long and now with the murder of Tara it’s only going to get worse.

    • LEM

      I do want most of them to die by the end.

  • Pernell Whitaker

    Over rated show imo.

  • SOA fan

    The show had more story than just the violent parts. If you in the other comments would have watched you would have seen what a really good show and good characters they are. Tara and Jax love story is one and the hope of getting there boys out. I hate that it is ending. SOA diehart

  • Dan_K

    I’ve been with the show since the beginning and I’ve stuck it out through the past few years, but in my opinion, the fact is it had potential to be in the upper echelon of TV a few years back and then it just fizzled. Season 2 was just great, great television and it was easily the peak of the show. Since then, it’s gotten way more convoluted, more unnecessarily gratuitous and far far too overindulgent. These 90 minute episodes are nearly half filler, in many instances. That said, they finally earned some cred back with me by *SPOILER* …..killing off Clay last year; although it was at least two years too late. The whole Gemma and Tara business in the finale last year just felt like ugly shock value, a cherry on top of the misery sundae that has been Tara’s role on the show. I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings about SOA. That said, I’ve been along for the ride till now, so I plan to see it through to the end. We’ll see how it all shakes out.

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