Katey Sagal talks Gemma Teller Morrow: Sons of Anarchy interview

Katey Sagal has turned in two outstanding seasons on FX drama “Sons of Anarchy” as the matriarch of the SAMCRO MC, Gemma Teller Morrow.

Gemma’s steely gaze speaks volumes in a supremely subtle yet powerful performance as a woman whose past we know little of, and whose future seems as murky too. 

One thing is for sure, the way Sagal attacks this overtly sexual alpha female who rules as Queen in the center of a testosterone-dominated world leaves a mark on every viewer.

She owns each frame she is in, and her husband Kurt Sutter, who created the series and wrote the role for her, knew her monster talent would rise in the right script, character and opportunity.

It was a sin that she (and the entire show save for the Music) was overlooked in the last Emmy nominee roundup.  Sutter is reaping revenge as the ratings for this sophomore season have gone through the roof and crushed network stalwarts like The Jay Leno show, a fact that does not please Sutter, who blogs and blames NBC for jacking around with Jay’s established slot in the first place.

The season has been underscored by events that thrust Sagal’s Gemma at the epicenter of all the action: The rape, and its fallout and cover-up will be the continuing theme until a resolution (or not) is worked out in Charming. 
How this goes down exactly will reveal in the next five episodes. 

If you love the show as much as I do, hang on tight; it will be a bumpy ride.

Katey Sagal spoke to Monsters and Critics’ smallscreen editor April MacIntyre a few days ago about the show.

Your character Gemma has such an allegiance to your son, Jax, and such for Clay.  But if you think that Gemma had to choose between the two, where do you think, especially this season more than any, where do you think her allegiance is really?  Where is her heart most?

K. Sagal I think it’s a tough question.  Her allegiance is to everybody.  I mean, what she’s desperately fighting for, in my opinion, is to protect the whole system. 
This is her life, the whole thing. 

In my back-story of Gemma, she has nowhere else that she’s come from.  I mean, where she’s come from, she doesn’t want to go back to, so her loyalty is to the entire situation. 

I would imagine if she really had to choose, oh, gosh.  I really don’t know.  I would say her son.  That’s what I would say, but you never know with her. 

I spoke to Henry Rollins and talked about the rape scene with him, and he said it was a very unpleasant day for him as an actor.  I wanted to know, from your perspective obviously, what was the repercussion of that?  How long did it take you to shake off that scene?

K. Sagal To me, those scenes are done very by the book and very choreographed, and it was a very safe environment. 

We had been to the space a couple of days before we actually shot the scene, so we could kind of take it in and realize where we were going to be.  And the actual shooting of the scene probably didn’t take more than two, three hours. 

Shaking it off was actually a process through the next three or four episodes are pretty intense in terms of dealing with it, and so it kind of was hanging around. 
I mean, it hung around for most of the season with Gemma, but the really super dark, emotional visits I had to take, I would say, it was a good month.  Not that I was walking around with it every moment of the day. 

I have three kids at home, but it was definitely a dark experience. 

Your husband rode alongside Sonny Barger for his 71st birthday a few weeks back, and I wanted to know how immersed is your husband Kurt, the creator of the show, in the motorcycle club world?

K. Sagal Well, he’s not really immersed in it.  He is now very familiar with it, and has made these contacts through his research. 

I mean, before he began the project, he wasn’t really familiar with the world, but he, as any good writer would do, or any good, you know, he did a lot of research. 
So he went and introduced himself at the beginning. 

But now that community has really embraced the show, and I know Sonny called him and invited him and myself.  I was working.  I couldn’t go to his birthday party, which was really kind of an honor to be included. 

And so Kurt went up.  I don’t think he has daily contacts with that world, but he definitely is connected in some ways. 

I noticed your singing some tracks in the series, can you talk about that?

K. Sagal I’ve sang two songs in the soundtrack of the show.  The first season, I sang Son of a Preacher Man.  And in this season, I’m the one singing Ruby Tuesday over the second episode. 

Hopefully I’ll get to sing one for the third season too.

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