After turf wars with several rival gangs, an ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) investigation, betrayals and even deaths the SONS OF ANARCHY still stands strong — or do they?
New problems set the SOA against a vicious, white supremacist, gang leader (Henry Rollins). This latest enemy, coupled with internal conflicts and long held secrets could tear the club apart.
Ron Perlman plays Clay Morrow, head of the SONS OF ANARCHY. Heís a strong, self assured, sexy bastard and will do anything to keep the club, and his position of leadership, intact.
During a set visit, Perlman gives PCZ some insights into last seasonís events and whatís going to happen to the SOA this time around.
PCZ: At the end of last season, Clay found himself with a club that was beginning to fracture because of problems including a big mistake that ended in Donnaís death. How does that carry through in Season Two for Clay?
RON PERLMAN: Clayís got to make a decisionÖ heís tested in ways heís never been tested before. We get to find out what heís made of because heís going to have to answer to what he does. Whither he answers to it or not will prove his leadership style. I think we begin to understand why he is the leader that he is whither we agree with it or not, because he is definitely controversial. But heís going to go head to head with the only one who really, really suspects that they have an idea of what went down. That is the Vice President, Jax, so there is going to be this major collision. And that plays itself out almost through the whole season.
PCZ: How do you think Clayís age is going to affect his character? He now has arthritis and some other problems like that.
PERLMAN: Clay has two things going for him that kind of trump all things temporal and physical that is his ego and his vanity. In addition, regardless of what is happening to his body, his mind will never let him give into those things. Therefore, he just keeps them departmentalized in a place where he is forced to manage them. He is. Just is, and thatís the fact Jack! Heís holding on to everything heís spent his lifetime building up for himself and for this sovereign little nation that he presides over. Part of the DNA of bikers in general is their desire to remain forever young and to piss in the winds of time and reality. So thatís another one of the beautiful colors of exploring this particular brand of sub cultures is that you get to see them behaviorally and socially and what there response is to external stimuli be thatís physical or political or life threatening.
PCZ: So The Sons of Anarchy club has obviously gone in a different direction then when it was originally established and we see some of that from Jaxí fatherís (John Teller) manuscript diary in the first season. Do we get more of an insight into the changes in the club and the difference between Clay and John Tellerís vision for the club in Season 2?
“Clay has two things going for him that kind of trump all things temporal and physical that is his ego and his vanity.” – Ron Perlman
PERLMAN: Weíre so busy with the new antagonist thatís introduced to us in the most horrific way. We are so busy dealing with him externally and then the internal struggleÖ Well, Charlie (Jax) has got two struggles. Heís struggling to find out who his fatherís son is supposed to be. So heís playing that out in his own personal nightmare. But heís also struggling to find out, if I was in control of this, what kind of leader would I be. You really donít know until youíre there. He just comes in with his guns loaded, because of his deep profound hatred for Clayís Ö in general his modality and specific where that modality leads him to at the end of last year. The manuscript thing has kind of taken a back seat to the order of the day, which is to try and stay ahead of the curve with this new group thatís trying to destroy us. And how we remain a club intact, knowing that there are all of these fissures that have been created, and weíve just put a Band-Aid on, but we know that eventually they are going to erupt into something that will demand our attention.
PCZ: What are the main challenges in doing this role?
PERLMAN: Iíve never played anyone who didnít have a sense of humor about himself until I played Clay. Itís not that he doesnít have a sense of humor; itís just that he doesnít have one about himself. And every other character Iíve ever played has that kind of ability to see the world from the other guys point of view and even while making a decision as to what his point of view is, he factors those things in. This guy doesnít. This guy is like itís my way or the highway. I know what is best for this world that we live in. And if you donít like it get the fuck out. Iíve never played anyone who was that single minded and who is as ruthless as he is to obtain his objective, what ever that objective may be.
PCZ: What about your bike riding? Have you had a chance to work on it since last season?
PERLMAN: Itís going okay. I had some time on the off-season to spend on the bike, which I didnít have prior to the first season, which is a highly chronicled factoid. But I had some time and I got some hours logged on the bike. I had a great instructor who is an ex-motorcycle cop himself. He taught me how to ride a horse for this movie I did in hiatus called Season of the Witch with Nicolas Cage. While we were taking a break, from horseback riding, I saw all of these motorcycles and I said, ĎCan you teach me how to ride a bike as good as you can teach me to ride a horse?í And he said, ĎOh yeah, better.í So when I got back from Budapest we went at it. And Iíve done all of my own riding this season. Iím not saying I loved it, but I did it.
PCZ: Did you get a special customized Harley like the others actors did?
PERLMAN: I did not get a bike. I am not a social rider. (Laughing.) Strictly professional.
PCZ: Some of the other actors mentioned that they were amazed that with all the problems Clay had that he made it through the first season.
PERLMAN: What did they hear? (Laughing) Iím surprised I made it through the second season. (Pause.) Thatís one of my personal credos, no expectations, no disappointments. I take everyday as it comes and try to make the most of it especially since Iím not in control. I know Kurt (Sutter) started out with this Hamlet thing as a super structure. Iíd like to sit down with him when all the dirt settles after Season 2 and find out if heís still hell bent in keeping that super structure. If he wants to go 10 seasons instead of 5 because Hamlet was a five act play and if each season is one act of Hamlet then weĎre all doomed. Nobody made it out of that alive!
“Iím surprised [Clay] made it through the second season. (Pause.) Thatís one of my personal credos, no expectations, no disappointments.” – Ron Perlman
PCZ: How soon do you think there will be consequences for Clay because of his actions?
PERLMAN: There are consequences for Clay and his actions everyday. If he survives them or not is somebody elseís decision to make.
PCZ: Ryan Hurst (Opie Winston) mentioned that before the second season began Kurt set everybody down and talked to them about their characters and what they saw for the future. So what is your relationship with Kurt when it comes to molding Clay?
PERLMAN: I think I have a real good relationship with Kurt. I wish I had more access to him. He rewrites every single episode and then he is editing all the time. But that one generous moment when he invited every cast member to come in and talk about what they saw, and what they felt, and what they aspired to see happen to their characters, he took it very, very seriously. Iím one of the very oldest members of the whole company. Bill Lucking (Piney Winston) I think has me [in years], maybe Dayton Callie (Police Chief Wayne Unser) is right up there with me, and we are the senior members. And I talked a lot about mortality issues. About a man getting to the point where he realizes his days are numbered. And every single thing that he does, and feels, and thinks, and believes is slightly altered because of coming to grips with mortality issues. We talked a lot about that. There is one episode where itís just lifted off the conversation we had. I think itís the third episode. Because he said, ĎWhat is the first thing a guy does when he realizes that he has far less days to come then he has behind him?í I said, ĎHe starts biting the head off of every body. Itís out of control anger. Heís railing against reality. And heís taking it out on everybody near and dear to him and everybody that he loves. Itís irrational, but then again so is this thing.í And low and behold, an episode came in and there it was. Itís a very human thing, especially for a guy who is as vital and formable as Clay Morrow, when you see him really grappling with mortality issues. What is this world going to be like with out me in it? What mark have I made? How do I make a bigger one before itís all over? All of that stuff.
SONS OF ANARCHY — Second Season Premieres Tonight 0n FX @ 10 p.m.