Set visit: Sons of Anarchy revs up season two
I paid a visit to the show's sweltering North Hollywood set last week as series creator Kurt Sutter (The Shield) and his cast were putting the finishing touches on the show's second season.
In fact, the show's writers were so close to revealing its final secrets to the cast that my PA and FX PR tour guides slammed a door in my face lest I wander into the writer's conference room and see the white dry erase board full of plot points for season two's final episode.
Evidently, if I'd have seen the final, bottom-right panel on that wall-wide white board, I'd have been chained to show star Tommy Flanagan's motorcycle and taken for a drag around St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank.
Still, any Anarchy fans who know their Shakespearian tragedy – especially Hamlet – should have a good idea where this show is headed in its second campaign and well into the future. Sutter has made his affinity for Shakespeare's structure well known both directly and indirectly – and Sons of Anarchy will roll on those wheels.
Sutter has even hinted that he plans a five-year run for the series, with each of the five seasons mirroring the corresponding act in Hamlet. Consider that gang leader Clay (Ron Perlman) killed his friend and business partner before marrying that dead man's wife and raising the woman's troubled, haunted son (Jackson "Jax" Teller, played by Charlie Hunnam), and you'll see the clear connections to Claudius, Gertrude and their troubled son.
According to Perlman (Hellboy, Beauty and the Beast), the cast is aware of their potentially "to be or not to be" future.
"When you look at the fifth act of Hamlet, nobody gets out of that mother alive," Perlman said during a "between set-ups" interview. "It should be interesting as we move forward."
And it became clear that anybody who leaked even a little of the show's second season twists wouldn't get out of NoHo alive, either. Both Perlman and Flanagan said the cast wasn't getting the scripts for the final moments of season two until the zero hour – leaving just enough time to master and rehearse them before rolling.
"Even while we're recording the last episodes, we don't know what's going to happen," Flanagan said. "And we love it that way. I know I do."
While the details of story-to-story events stay under wraps until the cameras are loaded, all of Sutter's actors have a comfortable grasp of their characters and their futures thanks to a series of one-on-one sit-downs with the show-runner.
"During the first season, Kurt invited all of us into his office just to discuss our characters," Flanagan said. "Just to get our take on who we thought our characters were, where they wanted to go, want they wanted to do, what the histories were. It was a great idea by Kurt to involve us in where he'd take everybody."
Perlman brought his own life experience into his views on Clay, the motorcycle gang's leader: "I'm one of the oldest guys around here (in the cast), and I'm playing a leader who's realizing he has more days behind him than in front of him. I wanted to bring the anger that would cause Clay into his character, and I think we've done that."
When Perlman and company close up shop after wrapping season two, many of them will drive home on new custom motorcycles donated to the production by Harley Davidson and Buell. The actors get to keep the black and chrome beauties for a year – when they can either buy them at cost or hand them back so they can be auctioned off for charity.
Considering how attached the guys around the Sons set are to their bikes, that'll be a decision sure to cause some anarchy.
[Watch episodes and clips of Sons of Anarchy on SlashControl.]