Sons of Anarchy - Season 4 - Kurt Sutter Q&A Conference Call Transcript - DOC by daet

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									Final Transcript

  FX NETWORK: Sons of Anarchy
  December 7, 2011/9:30 a.m. PST

Dominic Pagone – Director of Media Relations / FX Network
Kurt Sutter – Creator, Executive Producer / Sons of Anarchy


Moderator            Welcome to the Kurt Sutter Conference Call. At this time, all participants

                     are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question and answer

                     session. As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded. I would

                     now like to introduce your host for today‘s conference, Dominic Pagone.

D. Pagone            Thank you, and thank everybody for joining us. Thank you, Kurt, for

                     taking the time to join us. We ended season four last night, our highest

                     rated season ever. And because of the high volume of participants on this

                     call, we‘re asking you limit yourself to one question. If you have a

                     followup, you can get yourself back in the queue.
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            With that, I‘ll go ahead and open it up.

Moderator   First on the list, we have Kyle Nolan with TVisMyPacifier.

K. Nolan    So, ‗Opie‘ lost his wife and his father because of the club, and ‗Jax‘ has

            lost his father; his son was kidnapped, and ‗Tara‘ was injured. Why is it

            that these guys can stay so loyal to the club despite being—it seems to be

            bent on destroying them?

K. Sutter   I think ultimately, as we‘ve talked about with some of the characters—but

            I think it‘s really for the most part it‘s all these guys know. And for me

            it‘s the crux of the drama—at least with ‗Jax‘—is he was raised in this

            world, and it‘s all he knows, and can he leave it? Can he abandon it? And

            if not, can he fix it?

            So for me, I know there were some questions in terms of what happened to

            ‗Opie‘ at the end of the episode. It was just too neat and simple for ‗Opie‘

            to come back. ‗Opie‘s‘ a complicated dude, and one of the things that was

            fun this season with him is really—as I think it is with some of these guys,

            they‘re not very self aware. It took marrying somebody else for him to

            actually begin to grieve the death of his wife. And so I think it‘s just all
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             catching up with ‗Opie.‘ And he‘s not a guy that processes things quickly.

             So in my mind, it‘s going to take a minute for ‗Opie‘ to get back to that

             table if he does get back. And it‘s something we get to play out next

             season, but he‘s not ready to necessarily be at ‗Jax‘s‘ left, especially with

             ‗Jax‘ not being able to really be completely honest with him.

             But just think it‘s really all they know, and we get to explore that. And to

             be honest with you, if they decided it wasn‘t what they want and left, I

             wouldn‘t have a show left.

Moderator    Our next question comes from Rosa Cordero with


R. Cordero   My question to you is I feel like this season you were setting up a big

             death with either ‗Clay‘ or with ‗Tara.‘ And you have proven throughout

             all the seasons that you‘re very unpredictable, so I guess it would‘ve been

             a little bit too neat to kill one of them off in the season for now, but maybe

             you can share with me why you decided not to kill either one off?

K. Sutter    As the stories developed, we got a sense that we—at least with ‗Tara‘—

             weren‘t going to kill ‗Tara.‘ I‘m all about surprising, and I have no
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problem killing off main characters. But I also have to, in some ways,

protect the show. And I think it would be very difficult for us to continue

with ‗Jax‘ and tell that story without ‗Tara.‘ And so I knew that that

wasn‘t going to happen.

But for me, I just think death—whacking somebody—sometimes is just

too easy, and you‘ve got potential story—to me it‘s a much more complex

and interesting story to take away the thing that defined ‗Tara‘—her being

a healer. What happens when you take that away? Then where is ‗Tara‘?

What does she become?

Same thing with ‗Clay‘—it would‘ve been way too easy for ‗Jax‘ to have

that revealed about his father that we‘ve been playing with for four

seasons now and then to have ‗Jax‘ kill ‗Clay‘ two scenes later. To me,

it‘s a much more interesting turf for story to have that awareness and play

that out for a couple of seasons.

I keep using this example, but it‘s really what I‘m stealing from is The

Shield when we had ‗Vic‘ become aware that ‗Shane‘ was the one who

killed ‗Lem.‘ We had that awareness happen, and then we got to play that

out for a season and a half where these guys loathed each other and
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            wanted each other dead and felt this enormous sense of betrayal and yet

            had to suit up and go to work with each other every day living with this


            And we get to play that out now with ‗Jax‘ and ‗Clay.‘ I just think that‘s

            great turf for potent storytelling and what does that look like, and how do

            these guys interact? It would‘ve just been too easy, and quite frankly, I

            want to see what that looks like for a season or two to have these guys

            aware of this now, rather than just have the reveal and have him avenge it.

            It‘s really about just wanting to create more territory for story.

Moderator   Next we have Andrea Reiher with Zap2It.

A. Reiher   My question is, way back when it premiered for season 4, during the

            premiere I commented that ‗Tara,‘ while the guys were in prison, came to

            resemble ‗Gemma‘ so much physically. Now having seen the season, that

            had to have been on purpose, and you maybe were planning out that she

            was going to kind of morph into ‗Gemma‘?

K. Sutter   We‘ve actually really been playing with that idea since season two. We

            had conversations with wardrobe and hair about slowly—the more ‗Tara‘
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               spent time in the world—having it sort of rub off on her and that she

               couldn‘t help but become part of it. And we were able to play that out

               with wardrobe and hair.

               But yeah, I think that‘s inevitable, her coming around to slowly kind of

               morph into it and then obviously towards the end having some of the

               emotionality match it as well in terms of who she is and what she does.

               But yeah, that was our intention.

Moderator      Next on the line, we have April MacIntyre with Monsters & Critics.

A. MacIntyre   So, I‘m thinking about ‗Gemma‘ a lot and next season and how she‘s

               going to lay in bed with ‗Clay‘ or not. She‘s still a very sexual and very

               beautiful, powerful woman, and I don‘t see her character being usurped so

               easily. And I was wondering if you could just give us some insight for

               Katey‘s season five?

K. Sutter      I think the interesting thing—just to take a step back—is this season, if

               you really look at the dynamic—and something I‘ve come to use as a little

               bit of a device is that it‘s this world about the men, but more often than not

               we see it through the window of the women. We see ‗Clay‘ through the
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window of ‗Gemma‘ because she‘s the one that knows his secrets. We see

‗Jax‘s‘ season through the window of ‗Tara,‘ which is why I ended it the

way I did in that ultimately, we‘re viewing this world through the eyes of

the women.

And yeah, I think it‘ll be an interesting season for the two of them. I think

‗Gemma‘ makes this decision at the end of the season that‘s somewhat

hasty, but as she says, she‘s a survivalist, and she wasn‘t going to throw

away 20 years of work and makes this decision about ‗Clay,‘ and didn‘t

see the ramifications of what that might create perhaps with ‗Tara,‘ and

that she‘s ultimately created a little bit of a Frankenstein, and that it wasn‘t

going to be her standing behind ‗Jax‘ pulling the strings—that there was

somebody else who was more connected to her son than she was.

So you‘re right. I don‘t think ‗Gemma‘ will be usurped. And I don‘t

think ‗Tara‘—‗Tara‘ is not ‗Gemma,‘ and she‘s not there yet. And next

season—not that I‘m going to take a step back and bring her back to the

wavering ‗Tara‘ that‘s she‘s been to a certain extent—but I think she will

have her struggles in that role. And I don‘t think the struggle will be, ―Am

I in, or am I out?‖ I think the struggle will be, ―How do I stay who I am
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              and navigate in this world,‖ not unlike the way ‗Jax‘ has over the last few


              So it‘ll be a different kind of struggle, but ‗Tara‘ is not ‗Gemma.‘ And the

              example I give is that when she slides over that syringe and says, ―This is

              how you do it,‖ if it was ‗Gemma,‘ it would‘ve already been done. And I

              don‘t think that ‗Tara‘ has the capacity, if push came to shove, to put a

              bullet in someone‘s head, as I think ‗Gemma‘ could do that pretty much

              without giving it a second thought and then go and hit Starbucks on the

              way home.

Moderator     Next on the line, we have Nick Nunziata with

N. Nunziata   You made an interesting comment in an interview about the above-the-line

              costs making it difficult to keep the show going after season seven.

              You‘ve got such a flexible and loyal fan base, and the ratings keep getting

              better. How do you juxtapose that balance of commerce and art, and

              how‘s it going to affect the way that you wrap up the next couple of years?

K. Sutter     It‘s always the struggle in terms of—I‘m very aware that I‘m writing a

              show for TV, so I do want to write storylines that are rich and complex,
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and characters that are three-dimensional, and we do have actors that give

tremendous performances.

But there‘s an element of the show that‘s incredible pulpy and that is very

entertaining. And to me, that‘s as important as the rich, deep character

stuff. Because I‘ve no desire to run a show that only a couple hundred

thousand people watch. If I want that kind of audience, I‘ll go do theater.

And so it is important to me to keep the show fun and entertaining, and I

think that‘s what frustrates you guys sometimes is the combination of

those things.

In terms of the fan base and seven seasons—I threw out the seven-season

milestone just because that was my experience on The Shield in terms of

when the above-the-line costs become too much. And I knew I could tell

the story I wanted to tell in a seven-season arc. I‘m hoping we manage to

have that length of time to do that.

And if for some reason FX came to me or 20th came to me and said we can

go two more seasons, I would have to get that information before episode

#710 to figure that out. But I‘d be open to exploring that.
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Moderator   Next on the line, we have Rebecca Ford with the Hollywood Reporter.

R. Ford     I wanted to talk a little bit about the new external threat you set up with

            ‗Leroy‘s‘ dead girlfriend‘s father. Do you think those kinds of external

            threats are going to take a backseat to the more focused internal threats in

            the club in the next season?

K. Sutter   I don‘t know yet. For me, what I wanted to do is just—obviously I‘m

            trying to be smart and give myself a running start for next season. I‘ve

            learned that that really helps. It really benefits a show to be able to hit the

            ground running for a new season, so some of it is that.

            And also, some of it is really just creating some sense of the sword of

            Damocles hanging over ‗Jax‘s‘ head as he‘s sitting at that table—that

            other than the internal conflict, the club is potentially facing a very

            dangerous foe because of their actions. So some of it was just from being

            able to have something hanging over ‗Jax‘s‘ head at the end there when

            he‘s sitting at that table and having the audience aware of that, and he

            doesn‘t quite know what he‘s gotten himself into—so some of it was just

            throwing some complexity in there.
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              And I don‘t know the level of threat yet. I‘d love to be able to brand that

              character. In my mind, he‘s sort of a Frank Lucas kind of a guy that has a

              lot of sway and is a few steps above the club in terms of influence and

              connections. I haven‘t really given specific thought to what that conflict

              looks like and whether or not it will take precedence.

              Obviously, the internal threats and the internal dynamics will continue

              with ‗Jax‘ and ‗Clay‘ and the rest of the club. My sense next season is

              that it‘ll be a slower boil. It won‘t quite be as fast and kinetic as this

              season was with the cartel and with ‗Jax‘ wanting to get out. This season,

              everyone was out of breath at the end of every episode, and my sense is

              that next season that won‘t be the case. It‘ll just be a slower boil next

              season, if that makes sense.

Moderator     Next on the line, we have Ray Richmond with Deadline Hollywood.

R. Richmond   Congrats on the huge ratings in season four. What do you attribute that

              rise this season to? Obviously you guys had been doing amazingly well

              before, but does being the most popular show in FX history give you that

              much more latitude to push the creative envelope, or is John Landgraf still

              occasionally finding it necessary to reel you in?
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K. Sutter   That‘s a good question. Obviously it‘s very satisfying, and I think it‘s

            attributed to the fact that I surround myself with people who are way more

            talented than I am—and great actors. I think people have really come to

            understand these characters and plug in, and they‘re along for the ride.

            I think Netflix helped a great deal. I think people watching the first couple

            seasons really allowed them to plug into the show and get it. And I can‘t

            tell you the number of tweets and comments on Facebook about the new

            fans we got as a result of Netflix, so I think that was important to the rise.

            And in terms of pushing the envelope, the nice thing is that the more I do

            this and the more I understand what the show is, the more the network

            understands what the show is. The notes I get are very sparse. Usually

            what‘ll happen in the beginning of the season, there‘ll be a lot more

            questions and a lot more comments and a lot more notes just to understand

            what we‘re doing. And then as the episodes are delivered, the notes and

            the comments and the questions get fewer. And they‘re really come to

            trust where I‘m taking the show. So it‘s a pretty good symbiotic

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            And yes, there will be times when I‘ll have a conversation with John

            [Landgraf] about a thematic point or sometimes even just a piece of

            dialog, and we‘ll have a conversation about it. But the good thing is I

            never get a, ―Don‘t do that.‖ I get a, ―Why are you doing that? Can you

            explain it to me?‖ And what that‘ll do is often it‘ll force me to take a step

            back and look at things and try to look at it from a different point of view,

            which I think as an artist that it‘s really valuable.

            I don‘t loathe notes, as hard as they are to hear sometimes. I‘ve just

            learned that ultimately when I‘m forced to look at it from somebody else‘s

            perspective, it gives me insight. And what usually happens out of that

            process is the best solution comes out of that. So whether it‘s from the

            network or my writers or a director, I find that process very valuable.

Moderator   Next on the line, we have Catherine Burke with PopCultureMadness.

C. Burke    Especially after this season, what type of response of have you received

            from fans and more specifically, members of any outlaw club that may

            follow the show, and if their insight influences any future writing?
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K. Sutter   I‘m sorry. So what‘s the response been from outlaw clubs and if that


C. Burke    What has the response been from fans from the season wrapping up?

K. Sutter   Obviously I think it‘s been a pretty potent season with the fans. People

            have enjoyed the ride—and same with the … community. I‘m fairly

            plugged into their point of view. And most of the guys that I know in the

            world dig the show and get it, and understand what it is, and laugh at me

            and at some of the absurdity of what it is our guys do. But I think they

            respect what I‘m trying to do, and I don‘t really get negative feedback.

            In terms of influencing me, it‘s not like the influence is specific like

            someone has an issue with a story line, and that impacts me to change it. I

            think the influence is seeing the response that people have to story arcs or

            character things. And I‘ll get a general sense of what people are really

            plugging into, and what they‘re responding to, and what‘s really hitting an

            emotional button with them, and just sort of log that in my mind in terms

            of, ―Oh, okay. That‘s a component of the show that people really enjoy,‖

            or, ―That‘s a part of the show that people are baffled by.‖
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              So it‘s really more of a thematic process in terms of what the fans are

              responding to. But yeah, definitely when I go back to write, I‘m aware of

              those things. I‘m not writing the show in a vacuum. I‘m not writing the

              show for me. I‘m writing the show for an audience. And as I‘ve said, I‘m

              an egomaniac. I want to be loved, honored, worshiped, and adored by

              everyone. So I want a big audience. I love the fact that we‘re beating

              networks in key demos.

              And I think to do that, I need to be aware of what the fans are enjoying

              and stay aware of that when I‘m writing.

Moderator     Next on the line, we have Stacey Harrison with the Tribune Media


S. Harrison   I wanted to ask about your character, ‗Otto.‘ It‘s always interesting when

              he shows up. And can you talk about the evolution of that character over

              the years, and is his story done?

K. Sutter     For me, the character was really a device initially that a lot of these guys

              are inside and not a lot of information and intel. And a lot of the club

              dynamics often generate from prisons. And it was really just a device to
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get some exposition, quite honestly. It‘s been fun metaphorically to

continue to abuse this guy.

And then I had this story line, obviously, this season that came up with

RICO. And then we sort of took a look at everything ‗Otto‘ had done, and

I started putting together in my head the specifics of his back story. And it

wasn‘t until this season that ‗Otto‘ really—for me as a writer—became

three-dimensional and really looked at all the … that‘s happened to him.

And we get a little piece of that when he gives ‗Bobby‘ the list in episode


You have a guy who two years ago would be willing to bounce a Fed‘s

head off the table for the club, and now he feels this deep sense of betrayal

and know that he‘s done. And in true Outlaw fashion, he‘s going to take

everybody down with him.

For me, it was sort of fun to give him another dimension this season. And

as an actor, it‘s fun to do. I‘m clearly the only one who will hire me as an

actor. And I don‘t know if he‘s done. He‘s clearly not going to be a

resource for the club anymore, and they‘re expediting his execution. Our
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            season‘s timelines are usually fast, so we could play that out for a couple

            of seasons.

            I‘m sure we‘ll see ‗Otto‘ again. I don‘t know what that will look like

            currently though.

Moderator   Next on the line, we have Kim Potts with TheWrap.

K. Potts    You were talking about this really being so much the women‘s story as the

            club. Continuing on that line, how much of a factor will ‗Wendy‘ be next

            season? She wasn‘t onscreen a lot this season, but she was definitely a

            catalyst in ‗Tara‘s‘ finally embracing ‗Jax‘ taking over the club. Will she

            factor in in the future, especially with ‗Gemma.‘ She made the promise

            that she would be in contact with her, so how will that come into play.

K. Sutter   I‘m not certain yet what the ‗Wendy‘ arc will be in season five. She will

            definitely be back. I like the character very much, and I love working with

            Drea. And we were able to make a deal with her for six episodes, and we

            played out two of those this season. And I think we have her for our next

            season. And I‘m sure if we expand upon that, we might be able to get her

            for more episodes.
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            But it‘s interesting, people had asked where ‗Wendy‘ went and what was

            going on. And I wasn‘t sure exactly when, but I knew that it would be—

            through the evolution of ‗Tara,‘ it would be interesting to bring her back.

            And we were able to do that this season at a really awkward an

            inopportune time for ‗Tara.‘

            And I just think in a very general way she will be very interesting to throw

            into the mix with ‗Gemma‘ and ‗Tara‘ next season, whether or not

            ‗Gemma‘ will try to use her as a wedge—I‘m not quite sure what that

            looks like yet. But I do know that she will definitely factor in some

            capacity with the ‗Gemma‘ and the ‗Tara‘ arc.

Moderator   Next on the line, we have Nicolas Pell with Screen Junkies.

N. Pell     My question was, I know that the play Hamlet is sort of the basis for a lot

            of this, and I was wondering how that works in terms of the writing

            process and how strictly you feel you need to keep to it? And is it just sort

            of an inspirational thing and you take it wherever you want, or how does

            that work?
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K. Sutter    It doesn‘t figure into the writing of the show. It‘s not like we have the

             play up on a board with plot points that we try to follow. I think it really

             more speaks to tone and the operatic nature of the show and the pulpiness

             of the show—the epic quality that some of the storylines have. And the

             archetypes, obviously, with ‗Clay‘ and ‗Jax‘ and ‗Gemma‘ and ‗Tara‘ are


             There are often some overlaps, I think, in terms of theme and story that I

             try to do. And obviously my absurd little wink at all of that with the title

             of these last two episodes, and just in ‗Jax‘ making that decision of what

             he was going to do. And I don‘t know how that‘ll play out in the future.

             I‘m sure I will continue to have the show resonate off of those themes

             somewhat. Whether or not they all end up dead in a big puddle of blood at

             the end of the series is yet to be determined.

Moderator    Our next question comes from Diane Morasco with Morasco Media.

D. Morasco   It‘s a good thing I work out, or else I‘d be on blood pressure medicine

             from this past season alone. I see season five as a phoenix rising, as if we

             ended an era. And now, we‘re coming into a whole new vibe. What are

             your thoughts about that, and do you think ‗Jax‘ can handle the reins with
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            his father‘s vision, or do you think there‘s too much ‗Clay‘ coursing

            through his veins now?

K. Sutter   I think that‘s some of the things I think will be fun to examine with

            ‗Jax‘—the idea that, as we see with a lot of our politicians, that people

            have a lot of ideals and make a lot of promises in the pursuit of an office.

            And yet, when they get into that office, they‘re often handcuffed by the

            restraints of previous relationships and responsibilities. And more often

            than not, those ideals and those desires to do things differently fall to the

            wayside. And more often than not, they end up repeating the actions of

            their predecessors.

            So the question for ‗Jax‘ is, can he replace ‗Clay‘ without becoming

            ‗Clay‘? Is ‗Clay‘ just a product of the life and the responsibility of leading

            an organized crime syndicate, which the club is? And if ‗Jax‘ strays from

            that, if he tries to take the approach of running the club that his father had,

            will he inevitably suffer the same fate as his father?

            So it really is about whether ‗Jax‘ can do things differently, and can he be

            his own man, and can he affect change? Can he stay true to who he is and

            what he believes and honor this shift he‘s had over the last couple of years
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               and still be the visionary behind the club? For me, that‘s the fun we get to

               play out in the next couple seasons.

Moderator      Next on the line, we have Melissa Girimonte with

K. Girimonte   The storyline that I was most surprised by and enjoyed a lot was

               everything that happened with ‗Juice‘ this year. I know that typically

               when characters tend to show weakness, that usually means a sign that

               they‘re on their way out. But in this case, it looks more like he‘s stronger

               than ever. Was that a conscious decision to show that heart and that other

               side of the club, or did that just kind of come along as you developed that


K. Sutter      Yes and no. For me, and I know it created some confusion, and rightfully

               so, with the racial issue this season. And I had underestimated my

               awareness and that people had the same awareness I did. And somehow, I

               didn‘t seem to communicate that well enough—the idea that there were no

               black members of the club.

               And to me, it was always a very interesting dynamic in these Outlaw

               organizations that I would go and hang out with these guys and—the club
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I know very well up north has a Latino president for years and has Jewish

members and Asian members and a couple Latino guys. And yet, there

were no African-American guys. And I would go to these parties, and

they‘re be hanging out like Hell‘s Angels up north, and one of their best

friends are the East Bay Dragons, which is a black motorcycle club that‘s

been around longer than the Hell‘s Angels. And they‘re friends with these

guys and they associate.

They weren‘t racists. They had friends who were black. And there was

just this sense of that‘s how it is. And it dates back to the 40s when these

clubs were established. And I just found it just a weird, fascinating thing.

And when we brought in the character of ‗Eli,‘ I just thought that could be

a fun thing to play out, and created this storyline with ‗Juice.‘

And for me, the absurdity of—and it‘s a theme that you see over and over

in this show—which is if people just told the truth the first time, things

would be so much better. But innately, there‘s just that sense of people

needing to protect themselves, and deceit, and not tell the truth. And as a

result of that when ‗Chibs‘ says to ‗Juice,‘ ―What‘s on your birth

certificate,‖ in our research that‘s the truth. The piece of paper that proves
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it is all that matters. Because as ‗Chibs‘ says, half these guys don‘t know

who the … their fathers are.

And that‘s all that mattered. And ‗Juice‘ getting that piece of information,

realizing that all the other things he‘s done that he hasn‘t told ‗Chibs‘

wouldn‘t have had to happen if he told the truth the first time. And I just

think that‘s a recurring theme on the show that it‘s fun to play out.

I don‘t know if ‗Juice‘ finishes as strong as ever–if things are under the

rug for now and buried for ‗Juice‘—but like we do on the show, things

don‘t happen in a vacuum, and they don‘t go away. ‗Juice‘ is still living

with the guilt and the remorse of shooting a guy in the face and ratting on

the club. And there are people out there that have that information

And it may not play out next season, but not unlike what we did with

‗Luann‘ and ‗Bobby‘ in season two, that became a bigger story arc in

season four because it is now part of the mythology. It is now part of the

history of that character, and it doesn‘t go away. So I don‘t think that

‗Juice‘ storyline is done.
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            I think at a certain point, I only have so many minutes in an episode to tell

            a story, so at a certain point some of these stories have to slide into the

            background and simmer there for a while to allow me to tell other stories.

            But I don‘t think it‘s done, and we‘ll be able to play that out a little bit

            further hopefully down the line.

Moderator   Next on the line, we have Catherine Edison with

C. Edison   One of the things we enjoy most about Sons of Anarchy is the actors that

            we see coming back. And I was curious as to what makes you choose

            those actors? What is it about them that fits the Sons of Anarchy so well.

K. Sutter   Quite honestly, a lot of them are just my friends, and I like to surround

            myself with people whom I know and trust and who I know can deliver

            performances. They‘re all great actors. And there‘s a part of me that just

            loves the meta-factor of bringing those guys in to play roles. Benito

            [Martinez] this season and David [Rees Snell], and we even tried to get

            C.C. [Pounder] for a role this season, but she was off doing a movie.

            I think the one character I probably would not be able to bring in would be

            [Michael ] Chiklis—or Walton [Goggins] for that matter. I just feel like
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              those guys are so iconically ‗Vic‘ and ‗Shane‘ that I think it would be

              impossible for them to be perceived as somebody else in this world. It

              would be too distracting to bring them onto the show—as much as I love

              and adore them as actors and as people.

              For me, it‘s just fun. It‘s a little bit of a—for me, I continuously try to

              give Shawn [Ryan] and The Shield credit for the success of Sons because I

              learned so much on that show and take a lot of my cues from that

              storytelling process.

Moderator     Next on the line, we have a followup from Nick Nunziata with


N. Nunziata   You‘ve said that you don‘t necessarily know where some things are going.

              Additionally, there‘s a sense of unpredictability. And it‘s so refreshing to

              see a creator willingly say, ―This isn‘t fully mapped out. This isn‘t some

              intricate thing.‖ And I kind of wonder, do you constantly find yourself

              questioning things by performances by the way people react and by your

              own amazing group of character actors? Is it the kind of thing that you‘re

              electrified by on a daily basis, or is it just a matter of you like to not have a

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K. Sutter   No. I mean, I like nets. I don‘t like to live dangerously. My process

            usually is I come in at the beginning of the season with a fairly in-depth

            skeleton of the bigger story arcs and where I want to go. For example, this

            season I knew everything we were doing with ‗Romeo‘ and the CIA. I

            knew that that ultimately would be the thing that would force ‗Jax‘ not to

            off ‗Clay,‘ and that we were going to end the season with ‗Jax‘ sitting at

            the head of that table. I knew those bigger story arcs at the beginning of

            the season.

            And then, I sit down with my writers, and we go, obviously, episode by

            episode, and we hang the meat on the episodes with our stories and our

            narratives and our A stories and our B stories. And in that process as you

            write these stories, the narrative then forms the arcs, and things get

            tweaked and changed. And that‘s part of the process.

            And then, we produce the show pretty tightly. So I‘m seeing

            performances of actors as I‘m writing episodes that are only a couple—as

            the season progresses, a little too close to when they will actually be shot.

            So I‘m able to see what actors are able to bring to a role, and their

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And then it continues to inform me about—especially our new actors.

Especially our new characters like ‗Linc Potter‘ and ‗Eli Roosevelt.‘ They

were two dimensional quite often when these characters began at the

beginning of the season. And as my writers and I get in, we get to make

them richer and develop them more, and then have really good actors that

tend to inform of who they are so that usually halfway through the season,

they‘re three dimensional.

And a lot of that has to do with the actors and their performances. So it

allows me to write to their choices more specifically. It‘s not like we‘re

running loosey-goosey here and shooting from the hip. I do try to have a

lot of structure going into the season. But what I‘ve learned is that it

really has to be a blueprint. I can‘t lock into an idea or a theme or a story

arc and then hold onto it too tightly because what happens is other things

continue to inform it.

So I just have to be open to that process and allow things to change and

things to tweak and things to go sometimes in a little different direction,

and be open to making those changes. And I think that‘s what helps keep

the show fresh and hopefully compelling to watch.
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Moderator    Next on the line, we have Troy Foreman with PopCulture.

T. Foreman   A question for you—being that you worked on The Shield in the past, and

             you‘re now obviously on Sons of Anarchy, do you see a bit of ‗Mackey‘ in

             ‗Clay,‘ and vice-versa? I‘m not sure if that‘s been asked before.

K. Sutter    That‘s interesting. I think by the very nature of who they are as men—

             they‘re both alpha males; they‘re both guys that are living with dark

             secrets; they‘re both guys that have the innate, almost sociopathic ability

             to compartmentalize.

             So I do think that there are a lot of characteristics as men that ‗Clay‘ has

             and that ‗Vic‘ has. I think they‘re two very different guys, and I think

             their defects come from different places. I‘ve had this conversation with

             Ron [Perlman] in terms of ‗Clay‘s‘ past. ‗Clay‘ was a guy who was in

             ‗Nam and I think saw some really horrific things. And he has that military

             solider mentality of putting his head down and the bayonet out and

             running full speed ahead.
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             And when you see a lot of death and gore and violence at an early age like

             that, you have to learn to compartmentalize, or you implode. So I think

             ‗Clay‘ has that past. I don‘t think that was ‗Mackey‘s‘ history. His alpha

             characteristics grew out of different soil.

             So I think they‘re different men, but I think the nature of those

             characters—yes, I do think there‘s definitely some overlap in terms of how

             they navigate through the world.

Moderator    Next on the line, we have Lena Lamoray with

L. Lamoray   Now, can you talk about working with the directors this season? Will

             Peter Weller be coming back?

K. Sutter    Yeah, I hope so, although, I just saw Peter got some big role in something.

             I like the ensemble nature of working with directors—meaning I like to

             bring around the same people. I‘ve done that in the last four seasons. And

             there‘s just a shorthand that happens. I spend a lot of time with my

             directors in the process of prep, and I do an extensive tone meeting where

             we sit down and go through every scene and discuss tonally what‘s going
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on and the important moments for me that I want covered—just so that the

director and I are on the same page creatively.

And I just find that when I work with directors over and over again that

that process becomes much more expeditious. There‘s a shorthand that

develops. And I see how my actors respond to directors and how people

give different performances. And I think there‘s a comfort level to bring

back the same directors with the actors too.

So this season, I was really lucky that I had Paris Barkley on as a director,

and my director EP. And the actors love Paris, and he gets great

performances out of people. So I was able to have him for three.

And Peter Weller—I know Peter personally and through friends and was

aware of some of his work as a director, but I just had an innate sense of

this guy in terms of what he could bring to the show. And it‘s panned out,

and he did two really wonderful episodes for us. Yeah, nothing would

please me more than to bring back Peter for a couple of episodes next

season—as well Guy Ferlin and … and Billy Gierhart. Those are people I

go to over and over again because they deliver really great episodes, and I

really enjoy the process with them.
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            Tone meetings sometimes can be laborious, and they‘re very detailed and

            very specific. But for me, it‘s just part of the process that‘s fun for me to

            really sit down and then have a creative discourse with somebody about a

            scene and expectations and hearing their point of view and then obviously

            seeing the result of that in post when I‘m looking at the cut. I actually

            enjoy that process, and I think the directors who come on the show have a

            lot of fun.

Moderator   Next on the line, we have Catherine Edison with

C. Edison   You mentioned earlier that you learned a lot working on The Shield. How

            much experience did you have before that, and how did you break into

            working with FX?

K. Sutter   I was a feature writer. I began really writing movies, and The Shield was

            really my first gig. I come from theater, and I was an actor and a director

            first and really didn‘t start writing until grad school. So it was all sort of

            new for me. And The Shield was my first gig, and nobody quite knew

            what that meant and what that show was going to be.
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            And my relationship with FX really grew out of air. John Landgraf came

            onto The Shield I think in the third or fourth season in terms of becoming

            the president there. And honestly, I would see John occasionally, but I

            didn‘t really know him or have any interaction with him before Sons. He

            really deals with the show runners, and his relationship was with Shawn


            And then when we were going out to pitch Sons, we pitched it to four or

            five places, and obviously I though FX would be a good place for this

            show in terms of—I knew they would understand the material. I knew

            that they knew how to market shows. I knew it was a show that really

            spoke to their core audience. So at the end of the day when they wanted to

            do it and we were choosing between a few places, it made the most sense

            to me to go there. One, because I had a certain amount of loyalty and had

            trust in them, but mainly because I knew it was the best place for the


D. Pagone   We have time for two more questions.

Moderator   I‘m showing no one in the queue right now.
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D. Pagone   Okay, cool. Great. Kurt, thanks a lot for taking the time today.

K. Sutter   Thanks, Dominic.

D. Pagone   And thank you everybody for joining us, and we‘ll see you in season five.

K. Sutter   Thanks, folks. Take care.

Moderator   Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude our conference for today.

            Thank you for participating and for using AT&T Executive


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