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Sons of Anarchy – How Charlie Hunnam and Ron Perlman try to discover the truth

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Sons of Anarchy 2.12 - Charlie Hunnam and Ron Perlman
Sons of Anarchy 2.12, The Culling - Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller (Charlie Hunnam) and Clarence ‘Clay’ Morrow (Ron Perlman). Aired Nov 24, 2009 © 2009 FX

They couldn’t come from more diverse backgrounds – Charlie Hunnam was born in Newcastle, England, and starred in the British series Queer as Folk – Ron Perlman was born in New York City, and became known for his role as Vincent in the TV series Beauty and the Beast, going on to play the title role in Hellboy and in the movie’s sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

Both star in Sons of Anchary, one of F/X’s most successful series, which began its third season on September 7th. It spotlights the lives of a close-knit notorious outlaw motorcycle club intent on protecting their sheltered small town against encroaching drug dealers, corporate developers and overzealous law officers. Charlie Hunnam plays Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller, the Vice-President of the Club, and Ron Perlman portrays Clarence ‘Clay’ Morrow, Jax’s stepfather and the Club’s President. Both spoke of their roles and the series, which has become a cult classic.

One thing that is so interesting about the show is that they’ve managed to make heroes out of these characters, people who kill people dealing in weapons and drugs, that would normally be thought of as villains.

Sons of Anarchy, Season 3 - Charlie Hunnam
Sons of Anarchy, Season 3 – Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller (Charlie Hunnam). Airing from Sep 7, 2010 ©2010 FX

Charlie Hunnam: I never think of ‘Jax’ as a good guy or a bad guy. I just try to find the truth in the situation that he’s in. For me, thinking about how the audience will receive something is kind of corrupting to the process. I don’t really think about that.

I just try to be very honest and to really try to do justice to this great writing. I think what Kurt (Sutter) does wonderfully and fearlessly is tell the stories he wants to tell, and I just try to honor my part of that.

Sons of Anarchy - Ron Perlman
Sons of Anarchy – Clarence ‘Clay’ Morrow (Ron Perlman). Airs from Tuesday, September 7 at 10pm ©2010 FX

Ron Perlman: I think that these guys are fighting for the life that they envision for themselves.

They haven’t an incredibly well-articulated code of values that permeates its way thorough the whole family, because it is a family. It’s men and women and children and earners and caretakers and spenders. That’s essentially what is at the base of the thrust of his family.

It’s a family drama, and we’re just fighting for the things that are going to make us have the lives we want to live, and no one is going to tell us what that life should or should not be. We make up our own rules. I think that the things that are essentially universal in our code are compelling – loyalty, sacrifice.

These are things that are interesting to watch on any level, whether they’re fraught with big dynamics or small dynamics. In this instance, because we’re outlaws and we’re always kind of walking on this tightrope, they’re big dynamics.

Have you heard from the non-outlaw recreational motorcycle club community?

Sons of Anarchy 2.13 - Charlie Hunnam and Maggie Siff
Sons of Anarchy 2.13, Na Triobloidi – Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller (Charlie Hunnam) and Dr Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff) in the second season Finale. Aired Dec 1, 2009 ©2009 FX

Charlie Hunnam: I have been told (by motorcyclists) that I shouldn’t wear white sneakers. But, thankfully, we get much more praise from the outlaw community. It’s funny. Anytime I’ve ever got any kind of criticism or people questioning the integrity of our show, it’s always from those that don’t really know.

The people that actually know this world inside and out, we are a slightly heightened version of the reality, I think really appreciate the kind of honesty and integrity that we handle their world with but I’ve got to say, it’s been very, very few and far between that anybody has ever had anything negative to say to me.

It seems like, outlaw or weekend warrior, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. The only criticism I ever get is about those white f-king tennis shoes that I wear, which will be an ongoing battle for the duration of this show, because they’re not going anywhere!

Ron, when you get a character that is this rich and interesting, at the beginning do you find you have the right instincts about who he is going to be? Or did you find as the series went on that it was different than you thought in the beginning?

Sons of Anarchy - Ron Perlman
Sons of Anarchy – Clarence ‘Clay’ Morrow (Ron Perlman). Airs from Tuesday, September 7 at 10pm ©2010 FX

Ron Perlman: The luxury of television is that you get more than one shot at who you think this guy is that you’re playing, and now we’re almost through three seasons, there are just these colors to this character that are being revealed to me even as we speak, and it’s a beautiful thing.

At the beginning you sort of put your hand to your heart and make some choices and build a backstory to who you think this guy was or is and how he got to be who he is.

In this instance, we get to explore so many different facets of characters because of the luxury of time that we’ve been given, that sometimes you’re finding out things about him that you weren’t aware existed, and you have to figure out ways to fold it into that big overview of the character.

Were you disappointed this year that the series wasn’t nominated for an Emmy?

Charlie Hunnam: This is kind of controversial, and I’m sure I’ll garner a little bit of disappointment or confusion from colleagues, but I personally was really happy. I don’t subscribe to Emmys or awards or any of that stuff. I think it’s all a crock, and I think it’s corrupting.

I was happy that we weren’t on the receiving end of a force that could change the dynamic that we have, because I think it’s working. It’s an environment where we’re able to do good work and feel fulfilled as artists. And all of that crap is secondary and completely unimportant, and it does have the potential to ruin a good thing.