Kenny Johnson talks Kozik and Sons of Anarchy finale, interview

The season for “Sons of Anarchy” ends in the finale tonight, November 30th, Tuesday at 10 p.m. 

Monsters and Critics is having a LIVE viewing party where you “check in” here and comment, and stand a great chance to win a pile of SAMCRO and Reaper swag.

The last interview of the season is with one of the newest Charming bikers, handsome Kenny Johnson who plays Kozik, a member of SAMCRO in the Tacoma, Washington chapter.  He appeared last season in the ‘Culling” episode.

Kozik wanted to changed charters and come to Charming, but there was some bad blood between him and Tig (Kim Coates). Apparently there still is, and it’s over a bitch named Missy.

We lucked out and talked to Kenny yesterday, and had fun:

Monsters and Critics: I love how you fill out a cut.  So I’m curious; Missy is between you and Tig.  I want to know how two bikers, two manly bikers, are sharing a dog.  Can you explain that mythology? 

K. Johnson … mythology, we didn’t know she was a dog until the week that we shot that scene that she was a dog.  So the whole time, we thought it was … and it was somebody that maybe lost their lives, whether it be his sister or an ex-girlfriend of his that he was blaming me.  So that’s kind of what we thought.  That’s what Kurt told us.  He said that, but even deeper.  He goes, “Go as deep as you can and think really dark,” so that’s kind of where we went.

So when the dog came up, I had to come up with a whole … beyond the argument.  So I don’t know yet.  I can tell you what I think happened to Missy, but I don’t think that would be fair because it might actually be revealed later on and I don’t want to get it wrong. 

M&C:  Are we going to see Kozik in season four?  Please say yes.

K. Johnson I would love to say yes.  I can say I don’t think I die before the end of this season, which is a good thing.  I talked to Kurt on the phone and everything kind of points to that direction that it would make sense that I would come back, so I’m hoping, so I’m hoping.  I think it’s favorable, definitely. 

M&C: There’s a group of us TV writers, female, that are taking bets on who manscapes in the SAMCRO club.  We think that you’re at the top of the leader board with Juice right behind. 

K. Johnson That I what?  Say that again, I what, manscape?

M&C:  Manscape.  Yes, because you have highlights in your hair and you look like you care…

K. Johnson Oh, God.  You’re not supposed to notice the highlights.  That’s funny.  I don’t know.  I’m not going to answer that.  That was funny.

Chud:  You’re in a cast with a variety of the most interesting and fun character actors that I’ve personally loved for the past 15, 20 years, just a bunch of great regular guys thrust together.  You get to play a lot of scenes against one of the big boys in Kim Coates.  I wanted to get an idea how you guys achieved that dynamic that you have.  That feels really palpable, the tension between the two of you.  What’s Kim like as a guy offset and how do you guys get that dynamic to work?

K. Johnson Chemistry I think is something that I guess it’s just there.  Again, Kim Coates, his character, is such kind of bold, out there guy.  He’s a Canadian guy.  I married a Canadian.  He’s so brass as a character and so— There’s something about it personally that I thought was going to work for me because I thought, “I want to hate this guy.”  I go, I know so much on this guy that no one else knows and I just want to reveal it all inside of my head and let him know that I knew.  It’s kind of easy to do.  I mean, he’s an amazing actor.  He’s completely in his character when he’s doing Tig.  Off the set, he’s like the nicest guy in the world and it’s hard to not like him. 

 So after the second week, he was such a good guy that I was starting to really work hard to have that angst and that tension against him.  But I’m telling you when he’s in character, he’s like unapologetic and brass and just in your face kind of guy and it triggers me off.  So I just try to play the character as true and genuine as I can the way Kurt writes it.  I think the tension just sort of happens. 

 We definitely get into stuff.  He has a certain style of acting that also helps feed me.  I’m not going to say what it is, but it definitely feeds me and we get into it a little bit.  I’ll pull aside some people and talk about it, so we can get on the same page, but it’s really good.  The tension is just naturally there between us, so I kind of dig that. 

Chud:  It seems like the intensity is a recurring theme for you in terms of the shows that you’re on, at least in these two.  Is the set of Sons of Anarchy a family type atmosphere or is there that machismo that pushes it forward? 

K. Johnson It’s like both, I think.  I have to say the SOA family is so tight and so fun and yet so crazy.  Like you say, all these actors are pretty amazing character actors and they have crazy personalities, a lot of them.  Charlie will just run full speed and tackle somebody like Boone and he’ll knock him on his … in the middle of the road.  Boone will get up and chase him and everybody kind of challenges each other, but it never gets to— It’s always in love, so it’s very crazy, yet safe in a fun family type of atmosphere in that respect, but not like—you know, family. 

 There are a lot of different biker gangs that are there that are real biker gangs and has all the background and so I found the first week when I was there was really uncomfortable for me because I was in there with the real deal.  I’m not only working with all these great actors that I didn’t know, which was really exciting and neat, but you have to feel your way in.  At the same time, everybody in the background was from a real motorcycle gang or real porn stars or real whatever and they’re all there.  It starts to feel like this is a whole other environment and world that I wasn’t used to.  But then, probably two weeks into it, I felt like I knew these guys all my life and everybody was great.  As someone who’s been a fan of yours since The Shield and Saving Grace, how is playing Kozik different from playing those characters on the other shows since you’ve played mostly law enforcement officials?  Is it different? 

K. Johnson Yes, I find it— These are motorcycle outlaws, so there’s a little bit less of a conscience with what you do.  Like playing Lem on The Shield, he was a guy that did dirty stuff and he had a conscience about it, which started eating away at him.  Then on Saving Grace, you didn’t really break the rules, but you’re playing a cop that’s kind of out there and morally maybe not following a straight line with what he did.  This character as far as I know is written where you don’t know if he’s a good guy or a bad guy, but he does what he does and I don’t think he feels bad about it. 

 If you kill somebody or you take somebody out, it’s part of the job.  It’s what you need to do to make your group function and be stronger.  I think in other shows if I would have done that, there would have been a moral compass that maybe I struggled with more.  Maybe this guy will later on, it  depends on what Kurt does with it, but I think he supposed to be riding that line where you don’t know if he’s a really good guy or a really bad guy, but I don’t think he has a conscience really about what he does, if that makes any sense. Yes, it makes perfect sense to me.  Does Kozik have an old lady back home or is he single? 

K. Johnson He’s single.  The way I have it, he’s single, but maybe I’m wrong. What kind of woman would you see him with if a love interest did come into the show for him?  What would you like to see?

K. Johnson Oh, man, wow.  I hadn’t even thought of that.  I can’t say.  What would you think?  Who do you think he’d be with? I could definitely see him with somebody that’s like Gemma who’s not afraid to kick his … if he makes a mistake. 

K. Johnson Right.  I think that’s pretty cool. 

Voice of  How stoked were you when you had the news that you were going to become a series regular in the season three? 

K. Johnson Totally.  I was totally stoked, man.  I was totally excited about it.  When I talked to Kurt and those guys, coming off of Saving Grace, which was Holly Hunter, so it was definitely geared around a female feminine energy and I really was, I don’t know, jonesing for something with a lot of balls to it.  This show was great and I’m thankful that Kurt actually called and asked me to come on to do this.  I was really happy, man.  It’s the funnest [sic] gig.  It’s effortless and I love it.  I love riding bikes and I love the way Kurt writes, so I’m having a blast. 

Voice of Will we find out what happened to Missy that caused such a rift between Kozik and Tig in terms that Tig vehemently refuses to vote for Kozik into the club or won’t we?

K. Johnson Man, that was something that came at us that week that we actually shot it.  That it was a dog.  So I think it will definitely get revealed what happened to her.  Now that I’m thinking it was dog, there’s so many different things that could have happened and that he’s not getting over this.  There’s probably a million things that he’d get over and not really give a … about, but for some reason, his best friend, Missy, this girl German Shepard, something bad happened to the dog that was obviously my fault.

 I think that will be revealed.  I think it’s just going to be a slow reveal, whatever Kurt has in mind.  I really can’t say because I have no idea what it is, but it’s probably going to be pretty dark and messed up, I would think. 

Voice of Is there any scoop you can give us on season four with the evolution of your character and not being voted in as a member of SAMCRO, for example, will Kozik be around, will Tig finally forgive, anything you can share?   

K. Johnson I wish I could tell you.  I can’t.  I know what Kurt has in mind for season four, but if I tell you, I think that might ruin what happens in the finale.  So I kind of have to wait and let you watch the finale and then you’re going to be clear cut about what exactly where season four is going to go.  I definitely could be back for season four if that’s what Kurt has in mind.  I think it’s a pretty good possibility right now and you’ll find out everything by the end of the finale.  That’s why I can’t really say. 

Voice of Could you tease the finale? 

K. Johnson Yes, I’ll tease it.  There’s just payback.  There’s a lot of crazy, crazy stuff that happens that I think people are going to be shocked.  It kind of turns the world, the Charming around.  It turns SOA around.  I think season four is going to be so completely different from where it is right at this moment.  I think everyone is going to be pretty shocked.  When you see the beginning of season four, I’m almost sure there’s a time cut that it’s going to be a little bit into the future and everything is going to be really different.  There is something really violent.  Half the town gets massacred and they burn the whole place.  It’s like really crazy and there’s five people get drowned.  It’s kind of really insane.  Were you a fan of the show prior to signing on and how was your experience been so far with the cast and … Kurt …? 

K. Johnson Yes, I was definitely a fan of the show.  I went to the premier of the first season and I love it, I loved it.  I fell in love with the cast, everybody.  Katie was amazing.  I love Perlman.  Charlie was amazing.  All the guys were amazing.  I was super impressed that Kurt actually cast this group together because it just seems to fit perfect.  I get along with everybody great.  I came on, I was little tentative a little bit for a second just because I didn’t want to overstep any boundaries because I didn’t know these guys.  But in Perlman that comes off as big, tough, grizzly dude is like one of the softest, nicest, funny guys in the world.  He has the craziest, dry sense of humor and Charlie is as crazy as they come. 

 At the same time, these guys are amazing actors with great work ethics.  Everybody trusts each other, which is great.  There’s no arguments or fights about scenes or interpretation.  Everyone does their own thing.  It’s not like The Shield, but even maybe more effortless.  Instead of like with three core people that I felt, Walton, myself, and Michael Chiklis, this is like with ten guys that kind of ping pong off of each other and are just pretty phenomenal actors. 

 Kurt has been great to me.  I’ve known him since like the beginning of The Shield.  I think it’s an amazing show that he wrote.  I get along really well with him.  I feel like it’s my family and FX is like my family.  It just feels like I’m back home, so I love it. What is it like filming fight scenes with Ken and if you fought in real life, who do you think would win and why? 

K. Johnson Man, well, should I say the truth?  Yes, okay, I’ll be truthful.  The fight scenes have been really fun.  At the very beginning, I love fighting.  I’ve been boxing for five years and I’ve never had anyone do my own stunts ever.  So when the fight scene came up, the first one with Kim, I was just all gung ho to do it.  Then Kim comes over and says “Listen, let’s get the stunt guys to do this because there’s no need to put ourselves in a dangerous situation.”  I kind of looked at him and I walked away.  I was talking to some of the other guys and I go, “He doesn’t want to do this fight scene.  I’m doing it.  He doesn’t have to do it, but I’m definitely doing it.” 

 He found out that I was definitely doing it, and so then obviously he changed his mind.  We choreographed this thing probably like 100 times before we did it.  So he just kept grabbing me and saying, “Listen, Johnson, Johnson, we have to be careful.  We don’t want to get hurt.  Nobody needs to get hurt.  Just be careful whatever you do.”  He kept warning me about we have to be careful. 
 So nothing happened until the very, very last take where we kind of run at each other in the pool room and then it cuts away to the beginning of the intro to SOA.  I accidentally ran full speed and my arm got caught under his neck, so he dropped to his knees and he was kind of screaming and hollering and going crazy.  It was really kind of frightening because I thought I shattered his jaw or something the way he was reacting.  I didn’t know.  Then I found out later on that I obviously accidently my bicep hit underneath his Adam’s apple and his neck.  He couldn’t breathe or whatever.  So that happened by accident.

 In a real fight, he’s a strong guy, he’s a tough guy.  I can tell.  Like you grab him, he’s a strong guy.  He works out, but I would say I would kick his ….  Truthfully, I think in real life, but as characters, I don’t know.  As characters, it’s pretty even as you could tell or I’m the one that has more bruises than he does.  I don’t want to offend anyone by saying I’d kick his …, but—All the Tig lovers, they’re like, “Hey, Kozik now.” 

Back in the day, I was ranked second in the world in arm wrestling in my weight class.  But I have to say that was amateur and not professional.  At pros, I was probably number eight in the world.  I played college football and baseball…  

S. Seomin of FX: I like that he downplays the words in the world.  Ranked number eight in the world in arm wrestling as if that’s not a big deal.  I am going to agree that Kenny Johnson could kick Kim Coates’ ….  I only say this because the season has wrapped and I won’t see Kim probably.  He’s in Canada shooting a movie, so he won’t see either one of us for a while, Kenny, so I think we’re—

K. Johnson If you ever get a chance to ask Charlie, because Charlie is convinced that he thinks I could kill anyone on the set.  He constantly reminds the guys of that, but he always gets everyone really riled up.  So when I walk in the room, everyone is all tense and Charlie is laughing.  He goes, “Kenny, everyone is pissed at you right now because I told them that I think that you could kill anyone here,” so thanks, Charlie.  I don’t know.  Who knows, man?  Who knows?   The first question I want to know is how this all came about.  You first appeared on the finale of season two, sitting on a barstool in the very beginning.  I was like, “Oh, my God, it’s Lem!”  How did this happen?  Did Kurt call you up?  Did he have you in mind for the role?  Give us the details, please.

K. Johnson Yes, I think he had a whiff of that the Saving Grace, the show I was on with TNT, was going to be cancelled.  He asked me; he said, “If you have a second, can I throw you in—?”  It was episode 12, not 13.  He just said, “I want to introduce you as a character.  Maybe next year if your show doesn’t go or whatever, I could maybe add you on as a guy.  I’d love to at least do this as a cameo.  Would you do it for me?”  I’m like, “Yes, of course.”  I had two days off, so it worked out perfect that I could just go on and play this character, Kozik.  He goes, “I hope it works out.  I’d love to have you come on and do an arc and who knows where it would go.  It might be a few episodes.  It might be more.  It might if it works out, we could go and do more.” 

 So I was glad that he actually— Kurt is a really good guy.  He had met with me prior to doing this series.  He had a movie that he was going to direct and write—or that he wrote and was going to direct—for Warner Brothers that it ended up not panning out for some reason.  But he wanted me to play one of the characters in that.  He kept saying, “I’d love to work with you.  We will work together.  I promise you we will work together.”  A lot of people say that kind of stuff, but he actually kept his word.  I feel really blessed that he developed this guy.  So, yes, that’s how that came.   What hurts more, riding around on a motorcycle for many, many hours a day or getting a grenade dropped into your crotch? 

K. Johnson Oh, that’s a tough question.  The grenade sucked, especially under the conditions.  Kim … slow death … grenade in the lap, that’s cool, by my best friend.  Yes, definitely riding motorcycles is more uncomfortable.   In regards to prep work, were you riding motorcycles before this?  How did you get into this role?  I know you’re a bit of an outsider when it came the whole MC world. Luckily I’ve owned four bikes, so I ride.  I have an 1100 Honda Shadow.  It’s an old one that’s restored in like mint condition.  That’s what I have.  I don’t personally own a Harley, but I’ve owned two of those in the past and also back in the day when I was younger, I used to get like … 600 … just so I could race around.  I grew up on a farm in Vermont and I used to have like a bike that I would dirt bike all the time all over the mountain. 

 So I’ve ridden bikes, so luckily unlike a lot of—I shouldn’t say a lot, but a few of the guys in the cast have definitely dropped their bikes quite a bit.  You would never know it watching it, but some of the guys endanger your life.  So I’m always happy since I’m the new guy, that I’m in the back and I always make sure I’m back a little bit because I had some crazy stuff happen in front of me and I’m like, “Are you kidding me?”  It’s pretty interesting.   Who drops their bikes most?  Come on, man, you have to tell us. 

K. Johnson I would say Ron Perlman dumps his bike the most.  He’s the guy who will tell you that he doesn’t ride.  He took lessons in between seasons this time to learn how to ride.  Look, I’m not going to say what happens, but he’s definitely dropped the bike more than anybody.  Even in the finale, twice he dumped his bike … probably going about 30 where he kind of panicked when the bike went down and hit the throttle.  It can get scary.  It can get scary. 
Tommy Flanagan is a close second.  He is a great rider.  I would give him $100,000 if he’d stop riding to work because I see him on the set, man, and Tommy is a nut.  But in his mind, he thinks he’s ridden all his life, which he has not.  It’s pretty apparent when you see, holy … buddy.  It’s crazy— 

S. Seomin (FX) Most of the guys do ride their bikes to the set in North Hollywood, but Ron Perlman rides in his BMW. 

K. Johnson Yes, and he brings a little dog, an old little dog.  What kind of dog is that?  He had a little—

S. Seomin (FX) It’s a little terrier. 

K. Johnson It’s so funny to watch him with that thing.  That’s it.  I’m not going to say anymore. 

TV Tango:   I saw the season finale and it rocked my world.  When you saw the script, did you know it was going to be happening?  What was your take on the season finale?  I know you can’t give anything away.  I don’t do spoilers, so I’m not going to do any spoilers.  What was your take on the final episode, so I can whet people’s appetite for it?

K. Johnson There’s a lot of twists and turns that happen.  Reading it, I kept thinking Jax—I can’t say it, but yes, you think okay Jax maybe turned.  Maybe all these guys got screwed.  There were all these things that I thought was going to happen and then all of a sudden, the whole thing twists in another direction at the end.  It comes together like it was a big master— Well, I’m not going to say that either.  It was crazy.  It was crazy.  Kurt always comes up with a phenomenal finale.  The fact that he directs it for some reason, man, he’s an amazing director.  The guy … he’s a great creator, but I think he’s a great director, too.  I have not seen it obviously, but visually, I think it’s going to be great.  It’s very twisted and it gets complicated and complex, yet at the end it’s just like you’re like, “Oh, my God.” 

That’s how I read it.  I thought it’s brilliant.  I think it’s very good.  He’s a great guy.  I don’t know, I’m trying to think because I really don’t want to say anything that would give anything away. 

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