'Sons of Anarchy's' Kurt Sutter Draws Inspiration from Fatherless Upbringing
FX's Sons of Anarchy showcases the power and peril of father figures. The show's creator, Kurt Sutter, finds creative inspiration from the lack of patriarchal figures in his own past.
At the recent Television Critics Association Press Tour, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, Sutter joined fellow SOA executive producer Paris Barclay, stars Charlie Hunnam and Katey Sagal (also Sutter's wife), and other cast members for a press conference about the show's seventh and final season, launching Tuesday, Sept. 9, on FX at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
(In case you missed it or have just forgotten the last season finale--not sure how one could forget how season six ended, but you never know--click here for a recap.) Some season six spoilers follow ...
More on what was said in the press conference closer to premiere, but after the session, Sutter (who's working on The Bastard Executioner, a drama set in the 14th Century for 2015 on FX) sat down with Breitbart News to talk about what motivates his Shakespearean-scale drama about a Northern California motorcycle club running on the wrong side of the law.
On what "Sons" and "The Bastard Executioner" have in common:
"I'm fascinated and haunted a little bit by some of those familial themes that I've got to play with in 'Sons.' Although 'The Bastard Executioner' is a very different show--not just in obviously [the time] period, but it's a different kind of hero--but I guess similar themes in that, it's men really questioning destiny. That's a big one for me, and [men] trying to do the right thing, and sometimes making good choices, sometimes making bad choices.
"But when you're in a position of influence and power, it's not like making a wrong turn. They can impact the lives of a lot of people."
On why he focuses on those familial themes:
"I was raised by all women. I have two older sisters; I have no brothers. I didn't really have a relationship with my dad, so all those things are things I crave and that fascinate me. So, when you have it, you take it for granted to a certain extent, and it's not necessarily something that influences you, because it's part of [you]. But when you don't have it, and you fantasize it or you admire it, you seek it out. It tends to inspire you creatively a lot more.
"Yeah, it's all that this show is about, sort of disenfranchised brothers finding each other, which is definitely something I'm drawn to."
On how young motorcycle-club leader Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), in the wake of the murder of wife Tara (Maggie Siff), finally comes out of the shadow of his late father, and of the also-deceased Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman), the man who murdered his father and married his mother, Gemma (Sagal), and becomes his own man in season seven:
"This is the first event that's happened solely to him. To me, it's a fascinating season, because it's probably the most proactive I've ever written for this character. A lot of the time, he's reacting to the wreckage around him and trying to pick up the pieces and put it back together and fix it, be introspective, because that's the nature of his character. But this season, [with Jax being] really being somewhat singular of purpose, has been fun, because he's incredibly proactive and driven by the death of Tara.
"He's seeing the ramifications of being king. When he comes back to that scene in the pilot, it's just a throwaway, when he says, I forget exactly what it is now, it's the exchange about being king. Now he's in that place, he's having to experience the ramifications of that and making decisions and leading men."
(In the scene in question, Clay and Jax talk about dealing with a loose end. Clay says, "Two in the back of the head. Quick and painless." Jax says, "It ain't easy being king," to which Clay replies, "Yeah, you just remember that.")
On what's going on with the club in the last season:
"The fun thing for me this season is that there's no dissension within the club. There's no internal, 'Is this the right thing?' They may have doubts; they may have moments; but there's a sense of them knowing that this has to happen, and this is going to happen, and we stand behind you.
"So, even though it's driven by a much more violent narrative beat, that there is a level of camaraderie that we haven't really seen since early in the series."
On whether, through doing the show, or being a father himself, has helped Sutter resolve his own father issues:
"No, never. No. It's just so potent, and every time you throw different characters into that theme or that dynamic, it's always going to look different. You could go back to when I talked about people asking me about Katey playing Gemma, and I talked about how she inspired the role.
"It wasn't so much that my wife's violent, but she's a fierce mom. I was like, what's that kind of energy look like in that world, with that character? So, when you throw different characters in a different world, with those themes, they always look different. That's what I'm playing with."