As part of my visit to the set of the FX show “Sons of Anarchy” I was able to participate in several roundtable interviews with members of the cast. First up were Ryan Hurst (Opie), Theo Rossi (Juice), Kim Coates (Tig), and Mark Boone Junior (Bobby), all of whom play important secondary roles on the show. The guys talked about the direction their characters were headed during the second season, sitting down with show creator Kurt Sutter to discuss their own ideas for the development of their characters, and the seriously badass bikes that Harley Davidson custom built for their own personal enjoyment. Read on after the jump.
At the end of Season 1 we left the Sons of Anarchy in a weird place, and we left Opie in a particularly dark place. What impact is that going to have on the club, especially Opie?
Ryan Hurst: I think in Season 2, you kind of begin to see the tears in the club. You see factions siding one way or another. Opie goes to a really dark place and really stays there. Throughout the season it comes out in violent ways.
Theo Rossi: Yeah, I think what everyone believes will happen, and again there is that division between the club, and the audience is led to believe that there are things that are supposed to occur that don’t.
(Towards Rossi) There was a line in Season 1 where Gemma (Katey Sagal) says that your character “Juice” isn’t used to positive reinforcement.
So where does your character kind of end up with all the conflict?
Theo Rossi: One thing about Juice is that he has a massive loyalty to the Club and he’s just so happy to be a part of it. Any dissension in it and any conflict that might lead him to believe that the Club might not always be around puts him in a very vulnerable position, and he’ll do anything to protect it. I don’t know if that makes sense to anybody, but it did to me. He’ll do anything to keep it together. I think he’s also blind to a lot of things that are going on.
You’re pretty close to wrapping up the season, right? Did you fly through it this year, or what was the total schedule time?
Ryan Hurst: We’ve been at it, since what, the beginning of April?
Theo Rossi: I don’t know. It feels like yesterday.
Ryan Hurst: Yeah, it feels like it flew by.
What was the lead time on the script, how long did you have to go over it?
Theo Rossi: We never really know. Sometimes it’s three or four days, sometimes longer. I mean, we try…
Kim Coates (enters carrying a plate of food): Mind if I join you?
Theo Rossi: You know what, Kim, we’re kind of in the middle of something here, and you’re bringing in eggs, and it smells disgusting.
Kim Coates: I’m sorry, we’re you answering a question?
Theo Rossi: Yes I was.
Kim Coates: Ok, I’m a little scared for you.
Theo Rossi: Can you please stop talking?
Theo Rossi: Now it’s basically gone back to the way before, where we get a little more lead time. I think it did move fast, because Kim really thinks he’s a full-fledged movie star now, and I gotta be honest with you, it’s fully distracting in every aspect.
How much of yourselves are you able to put into the characters at this point?
Ryan Hurst: I feel like we’re able to connect with the characters now. At the beginning of the first season, it was a little weird because I’d never ridden a motorcycle before, but then later I found a little door in my head and said, “Wow, I never knew this guy was there”.
Kim Coates: Booney?
Mark Boone Junior: What?
Kim Coates: Answer the question, and then I’ll answer it.
Mark Boone Junior: What?
Kim Coates: How close do you feel to your character?
Mark Boone Junior: Oh…
Kim Coates: You’re a big singer.
Mark Boone Junior: Oh, yeah, I’m a big singer. I really love it. It hasn’t really gotten into the thing too much, but hopefully more in the future. Um, you know, I started riding bikes when I was really young, but I stopped when I was 19 because my mother asked me too, so I stopped riding for 35 years and now I’m just addicted. It is my only addiction…
Kim Coates: Tell the truth, Booney.
Mark Boone Junior: It is my ONLY addiction. Maybe food…
Theo Rossi: And trying to hang out with me.
Mark Boone Junior: I have never dialed your number.
Theo Rossi: That’s true (laughs).
We’ve been told to ask about your new bikes.
Kim Coates: We get these new amazing bikes from the FX-Eagles Nest deal, and you guys have to check em’ out, they are just so fast.
Ryan Hurst: I got mine up to about 112 miles per hour.
Theo Rossi: Well, lets not go airing that to the world.
You guys actually ride your bikes to work now?
Theo Rossi: Yeah, unless you’re late, and then you bring the car.
Ryan Hurst: Yeah, but there are three different types of bike we got. Ours (Ryan and Theo) are Dynas, superglides…
Kim Coates: No, mines a street bike. We have two street bikes, one Dyna, and one wide glide, that’s what we have. And they’re all different styles.
Theo Rossi: Yeah, we spoke to them on the phone, and gave them ideas about what we wanted, and they just really knocked it out of the part with these beautiful bikes.
Ryan Hurst: Eagles Nest Harley in Lompoc. We went up and there were about 7,000 motorcycle guys there and about 200 got autographs because they had to show up early and get wrist bands.
Now did you guys get to spend any time with any actual motorcycle gangs or clubs?
Ryan Hurst: Oh, man, I’m not touching that.
Theo Rossi: You know, I will say that we meet people from all walks of life on this show, and in the different events that we do, we meet tons of different people. What they’re affiliated with or what they do we don’t know, but they have no problem sharing with us the love of what they do.
In Season 1, Tig was probably the edgiest character, or even a sociopath, you might argue, but he’s really affected by accidentally killing Donna. How is that going to effect him in the new season?
Kim Coates: Yeah, I had a lot of early meetings with Kurt Sutter, and he put it to me this way; Tig has sort of lost his mojo, and I think that’s really apparent in much of the show. I don’t really want to give much of it away…
Mark Boone Junior: But he spends about two thirds of every episode crying in the corner.
Theo Rossi: Without Kleenex, even.
Kim Coates: But I think he kinda gets it back towards the end. I don’t really want to say much more than that.
What is the reaction you’ve gotten from bikers?
Kim Coates: We’ve gotten a lot of positive responses from bikers, but some have said “Yeah, but I wouldn’t have done it that way”, and I say “Man, it’s a television show!” I mean, we’re trying to make this thing interesting for people, so not everything is going to play out exactly the way you see on TV.
Do you think Kurt Sutter has an idea of where the show is going, or do you think he’s making it up as he goes along?
Ryan Hurst: I think he’s got a very clear idea of where the show is going. Something will happen and we’ll say “That doesn’t make sense”, and he’ll say “I’ll show you how it makes sense”, and he always does.
Kim Coates: That’s a really good point. I had a scene and I was so angry about what I had to do, so I called him and told him how I felt, and he said “This is an incestuous world. Clubs have rules, but there’s also an incestuous aspect to it”, and you just have to go with it.
Ryan Hurst: Yeah, I mean before the season started, Kurt brought each of us in to have a meeting with the writers and said, “What do you guys see for your characters?” and I went in there prepared, and I went in there with my notes, and 99% of them are in the season.
Theo Rossi: That’s the thing with Kurt, I mean he’s got his ideas but he also wants to know how we feel about things.
“Sons of Anarchy” is on at Tuesday, September 8th at 10pm on the FX Network.