'Sons of Anarchy' inspired by Hell's Angels
On a blazing hot, hazy, sunny day, the FX motorcycle-club drama "Sons of Anarchy," premiering Wednesday, is on location at a high school in Tujunga, Calif. The ground starts shaking, and it's not from the roaring Harley engines.
A 5.4 magnitude earthquake rattles Southern California, vibrating walls and lighting up PDAs all over the set. Star Katey Sagal, a native Angeleno, is unruffled and strolls down, under the shade of a parasol, to a brief evacuation to the school's football field.
A few minutes pass, then she and the rest of the cast, crew and extras stroll back to a grassy area between two buildings, which has been set up as a fair. The motorcycle club in question is raising money in its fictional Northern California hometown -- or more precisely, kingdom -- of Charming.
For an event in a town run by an outlaw bunch called the Sons of Anarchy, it's a remarkably unremarkable affair. There's an awning trumpeting a "Taste of Charming"; there's a silent auction; the police department ("Grilling Suspects for Over Fifty Years") has a booth; and a slightly misspelled banner proclaims a production of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."
It's all very small-town quaint, and that's just the way the bikers like it.
"Charming is a little backwards," says series creator (and Sagal's husband) Kurt Sutter, formerly a writer for FX's "The Shield." "One of the things we'll explore this season is that it's the club that's really kept it backwards for a reason."
The uncrowned king of Charming is Clarence "Clay" Morrow (Ron Perlman), a founding member of the club. He runs an overtly legitimate auto garage while covertly managing the club's chief source of revenue -- gunrunning. He's married to Gemma Teller Morrow (Sagal), widow of the club's founder, John Teller.
Charlie Hunnam plays Jackson "Jax" Teller, Gemma's son and the club's heir apparent, who has just discovered some writings by his father that confirm what he's long suspected -- that the club is nothing like what John originally envisioned.
The history of the Hell's Angels inspired Sutter, who says, "They went from being this fun-loving fraternity to pretty much an organized-crime syndicate. I thought, 'What if that first guy who put the jacket on his back and said, "Hey, let's go out, have a few beers and start some trouble," how would that guy feel about what the club eventually became?'
"Would he be remorseful• Would he think, 'What have I done?' That would be John Teller, Jax's dad."
Standing in the way of John's vision is his brother in arms, who is now Jax's stepfather. If this all sounds a bit like another Shakespeare play, "Hamlet," that's no accident.
"That is the journey of Jax's character," Sagal says. "The interesting thing about Jax is he's a guy coming into his manhood. He's 30 years old; he's at that crossroads between boy and man. He doesn't blame Clay (for John's death), but there's a lot of 'Hamlet' stuff going on. That's the archetype."
"It's not necessarily that I want to be king," Hunnam says. "I just have a very different vision of what I think the club should be. When we have two completely opposite, nonmovable, nonmalleable visions of what the club should be; that's going to cause some conflict."
But, Hunnam explains, it's not the illegality of gunrunning that bothers him.
"It's the stupidity of it that bothers me," he says, speaking from Jax's perspective. "We're dealing guns. We're involved with terrorist organizations because of the guns, because they provide them for us.
"We're also in a fairly insular little underworld in terms of this Northern California thing. We're all, for want of a better expression, pissing in the same pot.
"So we're also arming our competition, which is the least smart thing we could possibly be doing."
At the same time, Jax has just become a father, no thanks to his drug-addicted ex-wife, Wendy (recurring star Drea de Matteo), whose irresponsibility has infuriated Gemma.
And that's not a good thing, as Wendy discovers in the pilot.
"This is her boy," Sagal says. "This is her son. She's not very happy with Wendy. She wasn't very happy with his old girlfriend. She's a mom. Nobody's good enough for my boy."
Speaking of the "old girlfriend," Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff), she's back in Charming, doing her residency in pediatrics, which puts her right in Jax's path. Gemma may be right to be concerned, since Tara's motives may not be totally on the up and up.
"Gemma's a fierce mother," Sagal says. "She would go to any lengths to protect her family."
"It's a very delicate dynamic," Hunnam says, "between Clay and Jax in the show, and between Gemma and Jax. There are a lot of secrets and lies already. To one extent or another, that's affecting the ways the dynamics play out on set."Additional Information:
'Sons of Anarchy'
Premiere: 10 p.m. Wednesday
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hurdle says Pirates must eliminate defensive gaffes
- NHL notebook: Red Wings waiting for AHL team to finish before naming coach
- Storms knock out power to several hundred in Western Pa.
- Judge: UPMC must provide in-network access to Highmark Medicare members
- Steelers’ defense unfazed by noise, believes in potential
- Chinese artillery spotted on artificial island
- Islamic State group claims Shiite mosque blast in Saudi Arabia
- Silk Road founder Ulbricht gets life term for drug-selling website
- Penn State lands 4-star offensive lineman from Reading
- Judge dismisses UPMC ‘data breach’ lawsuit
- Man dies trying to escape fire at his North Buffalo home