Attention all you crow eaters: the seventh and final season of “Sons of Anarchy” begins September 9. If, like us, you cannot wait for the return of Jax Teller and the rest of SAMCRO, we’ve got some info about what to expect from Charming’s hottest band of outlaws, straight from the show’s cast and creator. Here’s what we learned when the boys sat down to discuss “SOA”‘s final season at the recent Television Critics Press Tour. (Check out a brief teaser trailer above!)
1. The ending is still up in the air. As fans will remember, last season left off with Jax holding the dead body of his wife Tara, unaware that his mom Gemma had drowned her and stabbed her in the head with a turkey carving fork. So what does the show’s creator, executive producer and director Kurt Sutter, have in mind for its seventh and final season? Turns out he’s not sure either.
“I’m a week and a half behind on episode number seven, it could all change,” he said at the TCPT. “I always had a sense of where I wanted it to go. And I come in each season with a blueprint of what I want to do with the big sort of arcs and mile markers. I’ve learned that, over seven seasons now, the looser I grip that idea, the better the seasons are, and this season really isn’t any different. I came in with how I wanted the season to end, which will be obviously the end of the series, and we’re heading in that direction. But things change with different story ideas. And so it will — it’s always sort of been heading in the same direction, but the way I’m getting there continuously changes.”
Just make sure Gemma gets her comeuppance. That’s all we ask. Well, that and more of Jax’s naked ass, please. Speaking of which…
2. Charlie Hunnam chose his commitment to playing Jax Teller over a role as Christian Grey in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Before Jamie Dornan was cast as Christian Grey in “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Hunnam was offered the role of the whip-wielding, emoticon-texting businessman — and he accepted. But upon realizing that the role would take away from his ability to really commit to his role on “SOA” — or maybe he read the book and didn’t want to be associated with what was originally “Twilight” fanfic — Hunnam dropped out of the film. It’s easy to understand why. “Sons of Anarchy” puts its characters through the ringer, and we can expect that to be especially true for Jax in the final season.
“I think one of the skill sets that I’ve really developed over the course of doing this show with Kurt is not taking the work home as much as possible,” said Hunnam at TCPT. “I just wouldn’t have been able to sustain Jax’s life. He’s a better man than I. Which is not to say that I don’t go home in a bad mood or a good mood, but it’s usually more to do with how I feel I did that day. If I’m happy with the work I did, I’ll usually go home with a little bit of a spring in my step. Or if I feel like I totally fucked it up, I’ll go home completely despondent. But in terms of the actual narrative itself, I’ve no desire to go off into a lighter world. I kind of enjoy working in kind of the heightened world of big drama.”
3. Marilyn Manson and Courtney Love are on the show this season. “SOA” may not get awards (#7), but the show had many, many hardcore fans — including some famous names, some of whom, like Henry Rollins and Dave Navarro, have been given guest roles on the show. Season seven is no different.
“I like to do some casting that’s a little bit outside the box,” Sutter acknowledged. “You know, from Stephen King to David Hasselhoff. And we try to do stuff that’s fun. Manson, I became friends with through some music buddies and he’s a huge fan of the show. And that was him basically just wearing me down. We found a great role for him and he’s great. And Courtney I don’t know that well, I got to meet her a couple times. I was a huge Nirvana fan, and so there was that connection. I know she had expressed interest on wanting to work on the show and then we had this role of a school teacher — I thought who better than Courtney Love?! So it sort of fits into our parameters of ‘SOA’ casting to have them.”
4. “SOA” is supposed to be a one-hour drama, but the network often allows the show to go past 60 minutes. It’s just that good.
“It was never my intention to do that,” Sutter said. “I think what ended up happening is, as the seasons became more complicated and as each scene of our little movie became an integral connected beat to another scene, it became more and more difficult to find things to cut, quite frankly. The scenes/relationships became more complicated and scenes became longer, and there’s a lot more going on between characters. So over the course of three or four seasons, these episodes just started getting longer. I was getting director’s cuts that used to be maybe seven or eight minutes long that were 15 and 20 minutes longer. And then I just got to the point with the network where I needed help and I said, ‘What do I cut here?’ And that’s when they did had some internal discussions and with their advertising departments. And they started to allow us to have these longer episodes.”
He continued: “It proved to be successful for them, I think, and we weren’t losing any viewership because we were pushing later into the hour. And as a result, I don’t think I’ve turned in an episode on time in the last three and a half seasons. Is it harder? I don’t think it’s harder. Here’s the benefit of it– I no longer have the struggle going into the creative process of, as I watch or write this, ‘what am I going to have to cut?’ So what it allows me to do, when I get at a script level, I can really write the episodes I want to write. And at an editorial level, I’m cutting only the things that make it a better episode. And so that’s the beauty of that is I feel like now I’m able to turn out episodes that are really the best cut to deliver that story.”
5. The show has no boundaries. “SOA” is one of the most gut-wrenching shows on television, fast-paced and merciless, violent and unforgiving. Who can forget the horror of Opie being beaten to death, or Tig’s daughter being burned alike, or, good god, Otto’s entire storyline. The show is not afraid to go there each and every week.
“This show, as (director) Paris Barclay said, is a pulp novel each week,” said Sutter. “And it’s not so much about how do I outdo myself. It’s really about within the circumstances of a scene between two characters, what is the most interesting way for things to happen. I can say this fairly confidently, that I don’t think anything we’ve ever done, no matter how obscure or outrageous, has been inorganic, has been unbelievable, as a result of the heightened circumstances and the players involved.”
He added: “It’s not that my goal is to disturb people, but I also want that reaction to when beloved characters go away. I want people to be upset. Like when Opie was killed, people fucking hated me. And the good thing is they didn’t stop watching, but they were upset. They lost a friend. And to me, that means that you’re writing characters that are relatable; you’re writing characters that are believable. And you’re writing characters that people want to show up to each week, which means, quite frankly, that I’m doing my job. So I’m a disturbing guy.”
6. Tig (Kim Coates) is miraculously still alive and kicking ass. The fan favorite has been cheating death since season one, in no small part due to his own bad choices. Tig was on thin ice within his own brotherhood for awhile, but has he finally earned back their trust enough for them to have his back in this final season? We’ll see…
“I find it hysterical that my fans are saying, ‘oh, Tig, don’t die, don’t die in this fight!’” said Coates. “Well, I should have been dead 20 times by now! I think he’s a survivor. It’s been a joy to get Sutter’s stuff and try to figure it out and work with these guys. It’s been something I’ll never forget. And we are the club … yeah, we’re decimated in numbers, but it’s a crazy world, this final season. And I don’t know where it’s going to go, but it’s been an amazing journey for all of us.”
Noted Sutter: “I do think that Tig is a survivor. He was Clay’s right hand man, and I think everyone had an expectation that he would fall with that reign. And the fact that he’s been able to make that adjustment and last is important. For me creatively, there’s things I can do with Tig that I can’t do with any other character, in terms of who he is. The character that Kim has so brilliantly helped me create and just brings these quirky nuances to every cut I look at. I’m somewhat appalled and amazed, and there’s been this great dynamic that’s happened with all my actors, where it really becomes this collaborative thing. Their interpretation of the things that are on the page inform me where to go next, and that’s definitely been the case with Kim.”
7. While it’s the most successful show in FX history, it’s never received a single Emmy.
“It doesn’t matter at all,” Hunnam emphasized. “Like, I feel there’s this perception as though we’re kind of upset about this. And I can speak only for myself and completely honestly. I really don’t give a shit. I make this for the people that watch the show, and I really care for me about the work that I do and for my friends that watch it, and the people. And if people don’t appreciate it, then — you can’t win them all. Who cares?”
Season seven, the final season of “Sons of Anarchy,” begins September 9th. Cannot. Wait.