Kurt Sutter's critically acclaimed biker drama Sons of Anarchy ran for seven seasons on FX, gaining as much notoriety for its portrayals of sex, violence and murder as it did praise for its writing, pacing and acting. Sutter went straight from the end of the Sons of Anarchy run last year into his next big project - The Bastard Executioner - which is currently five episodes in on FX and receiving mixed to positive reviews so far.
In a recent Deadline interview (which is well worth the full read if you have the time) Sutter spoke at length about his transition between the two shows and relationships with key cast members that developed over the course of the Sons of Anarchy run.
Sutter on Sons of Anarchy
By the time the last season of Sons of Anarchy Season 7 had finished airing Sutter and the rest of the cast and crew were already onto the new big project. For Sutter it was The Bastard Executioner, for lead actor Charlie Hunnam it was Guy Ritchie's Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur movie in which he stars.
The show has scooped numerous awards for cast and crew, but Season 7 was largely passed over, notably by the Emmys. However the finale episode still managed to draw a large audience and generally very positive reception - though some are still reeling from Jax's ultimate fate.
Despite what some fans would consider an awards snubbing for the last season, Sutter speaks of Sons of Anarchy with a father's pride, indeed it is the most critically acclaimed of his works to date
"[With Sons of Anarchy] I felt like I had the rare satisfaction of having a sense of what I wanted the show to be, what I wanted it to accomplish and how I wanted it to end. I took my characters on the journey I really wanted to take them, and that’s a rare thing for a writer."
Sutter on Charlie Hunnam
"I love my cast. One of the cool things about being out in London is, I got to hang with Charlie Hunnam a lot."
One of the most rewarding facets of the show, Sutter goes on to say, was the relationships he developed with his cast and crew. He and wife Katey Sagal, who portrayed matriarch Gemma Teller on Sons of Anarchy and Annora of the Alders in The Bastard Executioner, recently lived in London in a neighbourhood near Hunnam.
He talks about how nice to was to be able to chat to him and describes one evening where he and Sagal were missing their daughter (Esme Louise Sutter) and Charlie Hunnam dropped by:
"...for Katey it was like seeing one of her kids. We hung out for an hour or so and it was this lovely infusion of family I just really felt how lucky I was and how rare that is to have built those relationships along the way. I love Charlie, man. We can’t wait until we have an opportunity to work together again."
Sutter on Ron Perlman
Ron Perlman, who played Clay Morrow on Sons of Anarchy, reportedly wasn't too pleased with Clay's character arc in the latter seasons of the show, believing that his actions took him further away from his inwardly noble cause. Anti-heroes can be tricky characters, and none divided fans like the increasingly vicious Clay did, though around the time he beat up Gemma and was planning to have Tara (Maggie Siff) murdered I think he lost most of the fan sympathy.
There was a lot of speculation about the tensions that arose between Perlman and Sutter during the latter part of the show's run, an issue that he addressed in the Deadline interview.
"I have no ill will against Ron, who is a talented guy. Ron really had a different sense of who Clay was and his role in the big picture that perhaps didn’t sync up with mine."
Sutter explains that as Clay's character evolved his narrative arc went in a different direction than Perlman had anticipated. In previous interviews Perlman speaks about Clay as though he was still 'good' at his core, striving for the greater good despite increasingly immoral methods.
It's not unusual for this divide of vision to happen between actor and creator though, Sutter says, and it's a stage he experienced with the majority of the cast members - Charlie Hunnam included.
"I think Ron didn’t get closure with the character because of how Clay ended and so it was difficult for me to have closure with Ron. Hopefully at some point that’ll happen. I don’t think he harbours any ill will against me nor do I against him. I wish things had ended a little differently between us, but it’s the nature of this and I’m sure I had as much of a part in it as he did."
He goes on to say that, unlike other cast members, he hasn't seen Perlman since the show ended last year, so he's unsure if there is any residual tensions on his part, though he still believes that if they met again they would be perfectly content to see each other and talk about how things ended.
"Ron wasn’t around for the last season and that was hard on him... My sense is at some point there will be conversation and closure."
Or Sutter puts it: "Shit just happens and you move on."
Kurt Sutter's new show, The Bastard Executioner, is currently showing Tuesdays on FX until November 3rd 2015.