We had the pleasure of chatting with Katey Sagal who portrays Gemma Teller on FX’s Sons Of Anarchy. Check it out below!
Your character, you have such an allegiance to your son, Jax, and such for Clay. But if you think that Gemma had to choose between the two, where do you think, especially this season more than any, where do you think her allegiance is really? Where is her heart most?
K. Sagal: I think it’s a tough question. Her allegiance is to everybody. I mean, you know, what she’s desperately fighting for, in my opinion, is to protect the whole system. This is her life, the whole thing. In my back-story of Gemma, she has nowhere else that she’s come from. I mean, where she’s come from, she doesn’t want to go back to, so her loyalty is to the entire situation. I would imagine if she really had to choose, oh, gosh. I really don’t know. I would say her son. That’s what I would say, but you never know with her.
Right. I spoke to Henry Rollins and talked about the rape scene with him, and he said it was a very unpleasant day for him as an actor. I wanted to know, from your perspective obviously, what was the repercussion of that? How long did it take you to shake off that scene?
K. Sagal: To me, those scenes are done very by the book and very choreographed, and it was a very safe environment. We had been to the space a couple of days before we actually shot the scene, so we could kind of take it in and realize where we were going to be. And the actual shooting of the scene probably didn’t take more than two, three hours. Shaking it off was actually a process through the next three or four episodes are pretty intense in terms of dealing with it, and so it kind of was hanging around. I mean, it hung around for most of the season with Gemma, but the really super dark, emotional visits I had to take, I would say, it was a good month. Not that I was walking around with it every moment of the day. I have three kids at home, but it was definitely a dark experience.
I was wondering about Jax’ dad and sort of the circumstances surrounding his death. Will there be – it always seems sort of fishy what’s going on with that. There seems to be sort of a Hamlet dynamic going on here. Will we learn more about that as the season goes on?
K. Sagal: It comes up in bits for this second season. I have a feeling that through the arch of the series, you will find out more about that history and that back-story.
Also just with the second season, the show has really spiked in the ratings, and I was just kind of wondering if you guys have kind of sat and thought maybe what that’s all about, if people are just discovering you, if there’s something else going on.
K. Sagal: To me … family drama with really interesting, intricate family relationships that I think that that’s one of the draws. I think that it’s a world that people haven’t seen before. I think the quality of the storytelling is really high. I think the cast is really great. To me, it makes perfect sense that now that people have sort of defined it and word of mouth has spread that if you show up for it, you’re going to have a good experience. It’s not like, you know, somebody was lying to you when they say it’s a good show. I think that it’s been really exciting to watch, and it’s rare that it happens, so it’s good. It’s nice.
It seems that Gemma and Clay’s relationship this season is a bit in trouble, and I was just wondering how that’s going to evolve for the rest of the season.
K. Sagal: They’re a bit in trouble because there’s a big secret. There’s a lot of secrets, and any time we live in that kind of situation, you’re not authentically being with anybody, so I think that as the season unfolds, I think some of those secrets will be, we’ll find out how they’re handled, and I can tell you this. They stay married. I’ll tell you that.
I wanted to know how immersed is your husband, the creator of the show, in the motorcycle club world?
K. Sagal: Well, he’s not really immersed in it. He is now, you know, very familiar with it, and has made these contacts through his research. I mean, before he began the project, he wasn’t really familiar with the world, but he, as any good writer would do, or any good, you know, he did a lot of research. So he went and introduced himself at the beginning. But now that community has really embraced the show, and I know Sonny called him and invited him and myself. I was working. I couldn’t go to his birthday party, which was really kind of an honor to be included. And so Kurt went up. I don’t think he has daily contacts with that world, but he definitely is connected in some ways.
With so many tough issues presented on the show that I would say have only intensified this season, what kind of both positive and negative feedback have you heard from fans?
K. Sagal: I think mostly positive. I’m sure there’s negatives. I’m sure there’s people that might think it’s too violent. And I always feel like, well, then watch something else. I haven’t gotten a lot of negative feedback, actually. Or maybe I’m just not paying attention to it.
How important do you think that is for women who are watching the show, just seeing what you’re going through and how you’re dealing with the situation?
K. Sagal: I’m not sure that it’s the way anybody would deal with the situation. Her choice to not speak up and not tell her family what has happened to her, she’s doing it for a higher purpose in her mind, which is to protect them because she knows who her family is, and she knows that this is a violent world, and that they would protect her. They would go to any lengths to protect her, so she has decided to keep quiet. I don’t know that that is the message that women should pick up. I’m not sure that that would be the proper way to handle that situation for anybody really, but for Gemma, and in this world, it is, so that’s the storytelling going on. That’s the story that we’re telling. Any other woman in that situation, I would hope that they would go talk about it immediately.
Whenever I’ve seen you work in anything, you always seen to inhabit your character so strongly. Are you able to shake that off as soon as the cameras die off, or do you kind of have a process that you go through to kind of shake off whatever you’re acting?
K. Sagal: I can shake it off pretty much as soon as I change my clothes because I usually, you know, the costumes and wardrobe and hair and all that kind of informs what it is I’m doing a lot. A lot of times whatever shoes I’m wearing informs what it is I’m doing. That helps right there. But, no, I don’t tend to carry it around with me.
I know that the love of your’s is singing and songwriting, and I was wondering if that has been used in the show at all or if it will be in the future.
K. Sagal: So far I’ve sang two songs in the soundtrack of the show. The first season, I sang Son of a Preacher Man. And in this last season, I’m the one singing Ruby Tuesday over the second episode. Yes, I haven’t written. We don’t really use, well, we use some original music, but a lot of it is stuff that we re-cut, and hopefully I’ll get to sing one for the third season too.
These two roles, Gemma Morrow and Peg Bundy are so different, and you’re still associated so much with Peg Bundy, but which one is more like Katey Sagal?
K. Sagal: I don’t think Peg Bundy was very much like Katey Sagal. Definitely the wardrobe Gemma wears might be a little more like Katey Sagal. I mean, any time you play anything, there’s pieces of yourself that you’re kind of elaborating on. I mean, you’re using parts of yourself. I tend to be very fiercely loyal to my three children, and I wouldn’t want to cross me about them, so not that I would do what Gemma might do, so there’s pieces of that in her. And Peg was a rather vain housewife, and I can have my moments, so there may have been pieces of that in her. There’s little bits in both of them.
I know you stepped back into Peg Bundy’s shoes when you worked on David Faustino’s Web series. Was that easy for you to do, or did that take some adjusting since you hadn’t done it in a while?
K. Sagal: It’s pretty much like riding a bike, especially when we were all in the room. You know, it was pretty funny actually. And, you know, Eddie fell right into it, so we kind of followed his lead.
Interview By: Emma Loggins
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