Creator Of Anarchy – Interview With Kurt Sutter

The highly acclaimed FX series Sons of Anarchy starts it’s third season on Tuesday, September 7. The motorcycle club SAMCRO is up to their hubcaps in trouble. Gemma (Katey Sagal), the wife of outlaw biker Clay (Ron Perlman), is on the run from the law for a murder she didn’t commit. Plus Jax’s (Charlie Hunnam) young son has been kidnapped and a gun-running Irish gang may be involved. Throw in writer Stephen King doing a cameo bit and the bombshells just keep coming.

Kurt Sutter, executive producer and creator of Sons of Anarchy, talks about what’s coming up in the next 13 episodes.

QUESTION: Who or what in is going to be the primary bad guys in season 3?

KURT SUTTER: Thereís a couple. We have a couple dual storylines going in Charming and as well as in Belfast, but I guess if you had to pin it down to one specific adversary, I would say that itís probably the Titus Welliver character, Jimmy O. [Actor Jimmy O’Phelan].

QUESTION: Kurt, you wrote the part of Gemma for your wife Katey and you’ve said before you didnít really tell her about it until you finished it. So you just kind of popped it on her all of a sudden?

KURT SUTTER: I donít know if it was all of a sudden. Katey did a couple episodes of The Shield that I had written, and we wanted to do something together and this project came along. I was exploring the world and the dynamic between the members of the clubs and their old ladies and that I was influenced by Katey in terms of her strong maternal instincts, that sheís a fierce mom. I thought what would that characteristic, what would that strength look like in that world. So thatís what I mean by her influencing the role. But I donít think I necessarily dropped it on her. I think there was an ongoing conversation. She didnít read anything, obviously, until it was all done.

QUESTION: Because stakes are so high every season, is one of the most challenging aspects of this crafting a season-ender that allows you to make a next season? Or are you going to hit a point where youíre just going to have to discontinue that because youíve killed off too many characters?

KURT SUTTER: Hopefully, Iíll never get to the point where I run out of characters. I usually have a vague Ė have a blueprint of ultimately where Iíd like the show to land. Usually halfway or three-quarters of the way through, I start to get a sense of perhaps what the next season will be like so I can ultimately maybe lay some track setting that up. And, obviously, between season 2 and season 3, there was a lot at stake, and thereís very little time that lapses between those two seasons. You know, my sense is that will be different between season 3 and if weíre lucky enough to have a season 4.

QUESTION: One of the things that I really admire about the show is that you managed to make heroes out of these characters that are normally villains, people who kill people dealing in weapon and drugs. Talk a little bit about how tough that is, and is there a line you canít cross in terms of what these characters can do so that you avoid turning the audience off to them?

KURT SUTTER: I donít necessarily think of these characters as being bad men or bad women, and, of course, you know, itís a fairly dangerous world. I think their motivations, although the solution and their actions are quite often different than ones we would choose, their motivations are often the same as ours, meaning whether itís protecting their family or protecting their hometown or keeping out who they perceive to be a bad or worse influence. And then their means to get that done are quite often, as you described, bad.

QUESTION: Kurt, can you say is there an overriding theme to the third season? And what is it? And how far in the season is the Abel (Jax’s son) kidnapping story going to continue?

KURT SUTTER: I donít know if thereís one specific overriding theme. I think the theme is always about family and Jax sort of defining his role as a father and as a partner and as a son and as a member of this club. The Abel storyline drives us through pretty much the entire season, and I donít want to give anything away in terms of what that means and where that takes us, but the actual span of time within our seasons is very short. Itís potentially two or three weeks. So there isnít a lot of time that passes where you can have a lot of things unfold organically. So it is a very concentrated period of time which I think helps feed the sense of urgency for the tasks that they have at hand this season.

QUESTION: It seems the events in the first episode of this season could have repercussions for Chief Unser. Could you talk a little bit about that and where that character may be headed this season?

KURT SUTTER: Again without giving away too much of what goes on this season weíve defined this relationship between Unser and the club as being ó itís not so much that Unser is in Clay’s pocket ó itís theyíve made this deal a long time ago where they would each do their part to keep Charming safe. What happens is that gets turned on its head a little bit this season and the nature of the violence is perhaps what neither the club or Unser had in mind. So I think that relationship will be tested in a very heated way this season.

QUESTION: Is there anything you could do that youíd like to do if you were on pay cable, where broadcast standards donít really apply that you canít do on FX?

KURT SUTTER: I think itís a couple things. One is on pay cable, Iíd probably have about at least 10 to 13 more minutes of story time, which is a big difference. As far as, obviously, language, Iíd have a little bit more room. Iíd have a little bit more room with violence and ó although do you really want more room? ó and sexual content. But the interesting thing is after seven seasons on The Shield, I got used to living creatively in those parameters and being challenged by those parameters rather than feeling handcuffed to them. So I learned to have bad guys with bad attitudes and doing bad things and criminals and outlaws living in a world where the word ďfuckĒ doesnít exist. I therefore take it upon myself to use it as frequently as I possibly can. (Laughing.) But thatís the parameter that Iíve learned to live with, so it doesnít exist in that world. And I constantly have an ongoing dialogue with our S&P [Standards and Practices] person in terms of what we can do and what we canít do. But yes, obviously Iíd have more freedom to do that. But I donít think, in any way, that has impacted creatively what Iíve been able to do on this show. So I donít view that as a handicap, if that makes sense.

The DVD Sons of Anarchy: Season Two was released on August 31, 2010.