Women Of Anarchy: Katey Sagal talks Gemma, SOA back Sept. 7 on FX

SAMCRO rides again September 7 on FX.

FX day at the Television Critics Association summer press tour panel featured creator/showrunner Kurt Sutter, and many of the cast: Charlie Hunnam (Jax), Ron Perlman (Clay), Katey Sagal (Gemma), Tommy Flanagan (Chibs), Maggie Siff (Tara), Mark Boone Junior (Bobby), Dayton Callie (Chief Unser), and Theo Rossi (Juice).

No other female character on television owns the screen like our Gemma Teller Morrow on FX’s Sons of Anarchy. Katie Sagal inhabits Gemma in a role written for her with full understanding of all the power and nuance the actress can deliver.  

She owns every frame she is in, and even in the midst of some despicable behavior, Sagal’s Gemma makes us feel for her, love her and root for her regardless.  Gemma is the one we all want in our corner.  “Sons of Anarchy’s” entire cast all revolve around her like planets to the Sun.  If you have not been fortunate to see any of this excellent series, please catch up so you can watch the story unfold as it broadens and goes international, as the drama has an Irish twist season three.

During the TCA Q&A, Katey Sagal was asked about how she came to know Gemma as a character initially when her husband, showrunner Kurt Sutter, was first shaping the story of bikers, family and life in Charming, and what she made of the fierce matriarch of SAMCRO:

“I wouldn’t even think to go in and sneak a peek at what Kurt was writing because it’s not done until it’s done. 

He had told me that he was writing a show about this world and sort of painted it like, “I think there’s going to be a role for you,” and so I was very excited to see what it was, but I had no idea that it would be what it was. 

And, the whole thing sort of folded — with what we do, something is not real until it’s real.  So it was all very nice conversation, and I was just glad that it ended up actually happening. In terms of what happened this last season, I felt that Kurt did explain to me the story that he was trying to tell and the piece of the puzzle that Gemma would be providing. 

So as an actor, I was really excited to be able to go to this place.  It’s always fun to play somebody — I mean, all these people live in a world of secrets, but it’s just an interesting place to work when you’re having to be duplicitous and hold secrets, and that was the arc that Gemma had this past season, and just as an actor it was a learning experience.”

Season three will continue the uncertain drama of Gemma (Sagal) on the lam, as her lifelong friend and paternal wingman Chief Unser (Dayton Callie) has helped her set up a location under wraps, with some of SAMCRO dispatched to watch over her.

Her son Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is in utter turmoil, detroyed by Abel’s kidnapping, and his woman Tara (Maggie Siff) is pushed away as she wrestles with the depths of her love for Jax, her loyalty to SAMCRO while preserving her hard-earned career in medicine.

And then there’s Agent June Stahl (Ally Walker) out there, waiting, like a cat.

Monsters and Critics:  Season two shocked the hell out of us, and now we worry for Gemma AND Abel, as Jax is left reeling. Especially how the season ended for Gemma.

Katey Sagal: We wanted to open the world up, which I think was important to do.

These are the stories we wanted to tell. Kurt’s a broad storyteller. I love where it’s going. I think the whole season is so fascinating and unexpected.

M&C: The second season was more interior and now has several distinct storylines simultaneously playing.

Katey Sagal: You’re going to learn a lot more about some of the history, which I think is fascinating. The history of John Teller. You’re going to find out a lot more. I don’t want to say anything, but talk to him. [Points to Kurt Sutter]

Don’t quote me. [Laughs] I don’t want to get in any trouble either. Trust me I’m very close to the source.

M&C: Your role as Gemma is so incendiary, so powerful, has this role in ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ affected how you are perceived by casting agents?

Katey Sagal: Well, let’s hope that it has a broader scope for people.

After I did ‘Married With Children’ it was always a blessing, but in terms of getting outside of that box. It was a little bit of a stretch for peoples imagination to realize that we’re actors.

So, this has been a great opportunity for me in that way.

I think it has changed perceptions.

It’s such a mixed blessing to be in peoples living rooms for that many years. We we’re on for eleven years.

M&C: Your approach to your roles is always from a place of power…

Katey Sagal: Because I’m so shy and timid in real life. [Mutual laughter].
One person I remember at a network a long time ago described me as ‘formidable.’ So I tend to gravitate toward that.

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