‘Sons of Anarchy’ Interview: Executive Producer Kurt Sutter on Jax’s Success and Failure in Season 5
Are you in mourning over the end of Sons of Anarchy for the year? I know I’m already missing SAMCRO and anticipating what’s going to happen now that Tara and Clay have both been arrested. Will either of them get out of it? Or, perhaps a better questions regarding Clay: Will he even make it to his arraignment before he is killed?
After last week’s season 5 finale, Creator and Executive Producer Kurt Sutter spoke with reporters about Jax’s journey and provided some insight into some guest stars that may show up again in season 6.
When you have a season like this where you have a major death early on, is it difficult to then build to a season finale that is going to live up to the earlier season moments?
That’s always a challenge, doing something larger in the beginning. … I really wanted it to be shocking, come as a complete surprise, and kind of knock the wind out of not only the audience, but the club as well.
What I was able to do with the death of Opie, and not so much about worrying about having the rest of the season be a let-down, but really what it gave me was such a life-altering circumstance for my hero that it really allowed me to accelerate his journey.
I really wanted to get to the place where we had to force Jax’s hand to see what kind of a leader he was going to become. I feel like the death of Opie, that deep tragedy, that’s such an unsettling event, really allowed me then to sort of accelerate the emotionality of that journey, so we could sort of organically push Jax to the edge to see what kind of a man, what kind of a leader he was going to become. In that way, it really probably opened up my story possibilities rather than hindered them.
We’ve seen Jax really develop the character, the leader this season, especially after Opie’s death and its effect. Mentally, we’ve had this back and forth with him wanting to be in and out. Now with Tara’s arrest in the finale, mentally where would you say the character is going into the next season?
I really wanted to get to a place with Jax at the end of the season, and one of my desires at the beginning, as I said, the death of Opie allowed us to really accelerate Jax’s emotional journey in terms of where he was going to be at and the decisions he was going to make. I really wanted to get to a place where perhaps Jax realizes that he’s better at being an outlaw than he is at being a husband and a father.
There is an allure that comes with power and prestige that perhaps he wasn’t aware of, or maybe he was aware of, but didn’t necessarily have to make a decision one way or the other earlier. He got to the end and as much as he says he wanted to leave, that perhaps he really wasn’t ready to leave.
The intent was to have him have this very successful, although bloody and tumultuous, and tragic or painful run as president of the club, but to ultimately have all that stuff come out almost flawlessly. The execution of Pope, the way he maneuvered that. He pulled that off like a spec ops soldier. All that stuff went flawlessly, and was incredibly smart.
While all that was going on on the outlaw side, all the stuff with his family was essentially falling apart. e couldn’t keep any promises to Tara. Everything was a false promise. The bottom fell out of everything. At the end of it, he does one incredibly well and one incredibly bad. Just the idea, maybe I’m supposed to be doing this and not be doing that.
I’m not saying that’s where we are ultimately going to be with the character, but in this moment at the end I think there is a sense of I’m completely successful on the one hand, and yet I’ve completely failed at this other thing. Maybe I’m just supposed to be doing the thing that I’m good at. That’s really where I wanted to have him land at the end there.
Which guest stars do you see returning next season?
I can definitely tell you that Donal will be back. We’ve made a deal with Donal. … We definitely have him locked up for seven or eight next season, and most likely it will be more than that. What we usually do is make a minimal deal with an actor, and then if we need them more we can do more.
That character, I believe, will be a big character next season, and probably the most dangerous threat that the club has ever had. Just in terms of a law enforcement guy with kind of law enforcement weight, law enforcement credentials or connections, and yet because he is retired does not have perhaps the legal handcuffs or morality hurdles that maybe some of our other law enforcement members have had. With a guy like Donal, who is just … fun to work with and such a great actor, we have a lot of places we can go with him.
Jimmy Smits, I would love to bring back. I think Jimmy adds such a gravitas to the show, good experience. I love bringing in that new sort of culture to the show. His sort of Latino past and that energy, mixing it into our world is really fascinating for me. I love the relationship that is going on with he and Gemma.
We left it sort of open-ended because I wasn’t sure on his availability. I feel like there’s enough emotional weight on the table, there’s enough relationship weight on the table for us to continue that storyline, and yet I was careful not to pin any major story arch to his character just in case that couldn’t happen.
… I’d love to bring back Drea. … She got a pilot, and that will remain to be seen whether or not that gets picked up. That’s always a tricky thing. Sometimes networks and shows are open to have the actor step out and do a few episodes, some aren’t.
I definitely think there is more story to be told with that character. I love where we went with it this season. The timing felt right. It felt really organic. I think Drea had a lot of fun to sort of have some bones and some meat to chew on again with that character like she did early on. I would definitely love to bring her back.
Check out part two of the interview with Kurt Sutter: ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Interview: Executive Producer Kurt Sutter on Otto, Clay, and the Future of SAMCRO.
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(Image courtesy of FX.)
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