Sons of Anarchy fans are used to losing key characters as series creator Kurt Sutter isn’t afraid to brutally end the run of fan favorites (I’m still not over the death of Opie). But even as prepared as SoA fans are, what happened at the end of season six of FX’s riveting drama shocked everyone. Even those who saw the death of Tara (Maggie Siff) as inevitable couldn’t have predicted her violent end at the hands of Gemma (Katey Sagal). And as we head into the seventh – and final – season of the show, Sagal talked about working on that pivotal, game-changing scene as well as where Gemma’s relationship with Jax stands and what it feels like to be on the set knowing this is the end of the road for SAMCRO.
Katey Sagal Sons of Anarchy Interview
Things really can’t get any crazier for Gemma, can they?
Katey Sagal: “No, not much. I say that…you’ll have to watch. It’s pretty crazy, though. It’s pretty crazy.”
What’s the relationship between Gemma and Jax this season? There’s a giant secret, and Gemma clearly loves Jax very much. How is that relationship?
Katey Sagal: “And loved Tara very much, I will say that. What happened at the end of season six was not premeditated and it was not something that I think she felt very justified at the end of the day and sort of where her motivation was. I was kind of the end of a perfect storm in what she believed was the ultimate betrayal of her family and her son. It takes place two weeks later and what she does to kind of compartmentalize that is that she, once again, does what she believes is best for her family. I don’t want to tell you exactly what happens or what she sets in motion. How she deals with it, once again she feels like she’s coming from a higher purpose by holding the lie. She feels like she probably does nobody any good by telling the truth.”
What was it like for you to actually shoot that scene at the end of season six?
Katey Sagal: “Well we knew…Charlie, Maggie and I all knew that that was going to happen at the end of the season. We didn’t know how it was going to happen, and I wasn’t sure that I was going to be the one to do it. So, the actual filkming of it was very choreographed. It was a dummy and it was fake blood, and it was the fork in a fake head so it was technical. But it was extremely emotional for all of us. The actual most emotional part of that situation was the scene following when Charlie found her – when Jax finds Tara. We were all watching at the monitor. The actual killing was, as anything like that, they tend to be really technical and the emotionality comes after the fact of that. You know, when Gemma sort of slid down the wall next to her and the realization of what had happened, those were the moments that were tough. They were tough.”
Are you at least personally satisfied that she seems to have some geniune remorse and wasn’t just cold about what she did?
Katey Sagal: “Oh yeah. You know, she’s a big-hearted gal. She’s in this violent world. She has enormous love and loyalty for that family of hers, and she loved Tara. So, yes, and we do see geniune remorse. My questions over the hiatus were, ‘How does she now react to her grandchildren?’ Because as me, personally, I think I’d have to put a bullet in my head. I don’t even know how she can do that. But, you know, she’s able to do what’s best for the kids. Is it best for the kids for the grandmother to be gone now too and they don’t have a mother? I don’t know. So, but yes I am satisfied that she has geniune remorse. She’s unable to verbalize that to anybody except maybe Juice. Juice is the only one that knows kind of what’s going on, so kind of her remorse sort of leaks out in a vulnerability that you see in her.”
Can you talk about her relationship with Juice and how that’s going to change?
Katey Sagal: “Well, he saved her ass and she’s all about loyalty and a reward for it so you’ll see them very much aligned from the beginning. You know, they both have big secrets and they’re both helping each other. She loves him like…Jax is her primary but I always look at Juice as her second son. He’s the other youngest member and he’s the most vulnerable of them.”
Are the lines drawn now in the family with Clay and Tara gone now? Is there a real division in the family?
Katey Sagal: “I think she’s very aligned with her son. I think more so. I think that she has enormous empathy for what he’s going through. It’s just so much duality. At the same time that she’s remorseful about the act of killing Tara, she’s grieving the loss of Tara. She loved Tara. She completely empathizes with Jax’s insanity over the act and you’ll see more and more how that plays out.”
If there’s so many secrets, how much truth comes out this season?
Katey Sagal: “We’ll see some. I can’t imagine that you’ll see every secret over the last season years tied up. I don’t think it will be that at all. Kurt has said he wanted this season to feel just like any other season. But we’re just sort of at the end of the journey of the story he’s going to tell about these particular people. That doesn’t mean that the lives of these particular people is necessarily completely over and everything is tied up. But I’m sure you’ll get some answers to some questions. I’m sure it will be very satisfying.”
Can you talk about this being the end of the journey and what it’s like to be on the set knowing this is the final season?
Katey Sagal: “We’re all sort of in denial about it, I would say. Every once in a while, like at the end of episode two, one of our long-time directors it was his last one. The crew gathered and we all said good-bye. He started crying and Charlie and I started welling up. You know, we have those moments where we just realize, first of all, how grateful we all are for having had the experience because it’s so rare. It’s such a group of people that everybody just brings it. Everybody shows up for it. I guess that speaks to the casting at the beginning of it, that you have this group of committed people – and the writing. The writing requires us all to bring it. So, that’s rare. That’s just rare in a television show. It’s rare in anything. The vibe on set is so sweet this year. You know, we’ve had some complaining moments over our years. You know, it’s hard, our show. We’re in leather, it’s 100 degrees, we’re on concrete, it’s tough. It’s physically tough. But, you know, everybody’s bringing their smiles this time. I think it’s because we all just know that this has been absolutely a fantastic experience.”
Has it been the most rewarding experience for you?
Katey Sagal: “In so many ways. You know, I don’t know that I’ll get another character to play so interesting and complex for such a long period of time. I hope I will. I’ve been involved in a couple of experiences, this will be my second, that was somewhat groundbreaking. When I was on Married with Children it was something that hadn’t been done before. It was something that people said won’t succeed. It was something that was against all odds on a network that wasn’t even there. This too came in with all kinds of cards against it. This was a world that had never been shown except as a cartoon. This was a world that a lot of people were just not sure, and [John] Landgraf really went out and said yes and put his stuff on the line, too. So, that’s so rewarding in itself when something creatively changes people’s minds, and that’s what I think this show did. I think it kind of opened the landscape for a lot of cable shows you see on now. Certainly, The Shield started all that and this kind of expanded on it.”
It being the end of Sons of Anarchy‘s run, will you need to take time before you look for something new? Will you just see how things fall?
Katey Sagal: “It’s interesting you say that because I’m just now starting to talk to people about what’s next and, ‘Should we pitch this? Do you want to be in this show?’ But there’s part of that’s like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa! Just wait a minute. Let me get the blonde out of my hair.’ But I’m sure a couple of months down… It’s just like on hiatus, you’re able to sort of put her to bed for a bit.”
The Bastard Executioner maybe?
Katey Sagal: “Possibly, we’ll see. We’re talking about what that would be. That’s still… It’s just going to be done so far away from our family. We don’t know yet how we’re going to do it – we’re all going to go, if I’ll be in it – all those things will happen maybe.”
Will you have a song in this season’s Sons of Anarchy?
Katey Sagal: “There will be song. We don’t know what it is yet.”
-By Rebecca Murray
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