Q&A: Sons of Anarchy’s Kim Coates

Tonight at 10 p.m. is the premiere of Sons of Anarchy on the new FX Canada. It’s on channel 318 and free for two months if you subscribe to Rogers’ digital deal; other carriers are still being wooed.
Some Canadians have been enjoying this gritty outlaw biker series for a few years on Super Channel. That Pay-TV service still has the most recent, Season Four episodes. FX Canada starts the series from the very  beginning tonight.
One compelling reason to watch this show is Kim Coates, a wonderful actor from Saskatchewan who plays biker club sergeant-at-arms Tig Trager. The 52-year-old has a crazy long list of credits, including Broadway and Stratford runs, over 40 feature films including Black Hawk Down as well as a featured role on Entourage. I profiled him last week for The Canadian Press, you can read that story here.
Coates was in Toronto in September for the premiere of the hockey movie Goon at the Toronto Film Festival. First time I had ever met him but by the time we were done I felt like I had known him for years.

Here you are with a fourth season of Sons of Anarchy, a series about a gang of hardened men, outlaw bikers, and it’s more popular than ever. Why do you think it’s been so embraced?
I don’t know what the answer is other than we struck a chord with women, with men, with grandmas, with 18 year olds—my daughter at UCLA. She’s a grad now but every Tuesday night there would be 60 of them there for the Sons Hour—all the dorms.
Nobody seems indifferent or on the fence about this show.
People either say, ‘I’ve never seen it, I hear its good,” or, “I’m addicted.” That’s it.
And you have Shakespeare at the core of it?
Kurt Sutter, the creator, came up this whole Hamlet analogy. It’s metaphorically based on Hamlet.
There is some family, and loyalty and some comedy and some sex and some really good writing and character actors…
If it’s all based on Hamlet it won’t have a happy ending…
We will not be doing a jig, no.
Did you ever do Hamlet?
No Macbeth.
Does it help having that Shakespearean background when approaching this series?
You know, I don’t know. I didn’t know any other way. I love Shakespeare and didn’t know it at all when I was in university. Took a drama class for fun. [Hamlet director] Tom Kerr was my mentor. I ended up doing 25 plays in four years at university, an amazing learning ground for me.
Which school?
University of Saskatchewanin Saskatoon. Born and bred. Then I got my equity card. That’s the whole Neptune connection for me. I did 10 or 11 plays. Macbeth came along when I was 27, I believe. We were young and virile and just loved it, man. Great times.
Macbeth is a long, killer play.
Killer play for sure but that’d what that is. Have to carry your voice. I remember doing Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway for five months. You have to take care of your voice if you’re going to be screaming, “STELLA!” every night.
What’s it like having everything converge like it did this year for you—Entourage ending, Sons of Anarchy peaking, several movies? Are you just able to take it all in stride at this point in your career?
I take it in stride, Bill. I’ve worked really hard. I think you have to go to your stomach and make decisions based on that. I had never done a TV series before Sons, done my share of arcs on other shows but never a regular. I’m really glad I chose this one. It’s five months out of the year, we all love each other on the show. As you suggest, it’s very different, there’s not a show quite like it on television right now.
I have a question from another critic who’s a big SOA [and Kim Coates] fan—April MacIntyre, editor of Monsters & Critics. She has a specific question about a scene in Season Two where Tig and Gemma (Katie Sagal) have their moment of passion, and he fights it for the loyalty to Clay (Ron Perlman) and the club, but that passion and those feelings never really go away. Will Tig still be drawn to Gemma in ways he cannot satisfy?
I’ll make this as short as I can.
When you’re doing a series and you get the scripts sent to you, you never know where it’s going to go. When I saw that script where Tig gets it on with Gemma, I said I don’t want to do it. Not doing it. [Coates makes knocking sound on table]. Get me Kurt Sutter. He brought me into his office.
I said, “I’m not doing it.” Kurt said, “OK, take a breath. In this land of the Sons of Anarchy, the outlaws biker club, it’s full of incestuous drugs, rock and roll, sex…that’s what it’s full of right?” Now Tig, my character that season, Season 2, was lost. From what he did to Donna in the first season, he was lost the entire season. I don’t want to say too much to spoil it for folks who haven’t seen the series from the beginning.
Let’s just say this: my character was lost and Kurt made it very specifically clear to me that Katie’s character Gemma was lost and she hadn’t been with Clay the entire season. They aren’t having sex from what happened that very first show [of the Second Season]—which I still think is the best show we’ve ever done. Scared the crap out of me, there wasn’t a dry eye nor a breath in the audience at the premiere that night, it was just frighteningly real and awesomely acted and so sad.
Fine.  So Gemma and I are both lost and Kurt said, “She comes on to you. And you don’t consummated it, you stop before it goes farther but trust me when I say this, you’re not doing it out of anything with Clay, it’s just a moment of two very wounded people coming together for some love, some something, a hug—for a second, and then it ends.”
Will I ever get back with Gemma? I have no idea. All I know is that things are happening this year. Stuff is going down.

Leave a Reply