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Katey Sagal Speaks Biker

by Mindy Monez September 3, 2008 3:40 pm
Katey Sagal Speaks Biker At first glance, Katey Sagal may not seem like the most obvious choice to play a tough as nails biker chick (for my money, that honor goes to Nip/Tuck's Jessalyn Gilsig -- she's scary as hell!), but starting tonight she's doing just that on FX's Sons of Anarchy. Sagal plays Gemma, the matriarch of a Hell's Angels-esque California biker gang, trying to keep the gang together, her son on the right track to future head hooligan, and her husband focused and out of a war with the Mexicans. You know, family stuff! We recently called in to a little conference call with Katey and got a few tidbits on why she's biking around and running guns on TV these days.

I've seen the first few episodes of the series, and while there were a lot of things I really liked about it, Katey Sagal's attempt to be menacing was the biggest thing I just didn't buy. Maybe it'll just take some getting used to, as she'll always be Peg Bundy to me, but it's definitely fair to say that she's not naturally badass. Which is why I was surprised to learn that the role of Gemma was written specifically for her, by her husband Kurt Sutter, who created the show. It's probably pretty safe to say he knows her a little better than I do, so maybe I've misjudged her performance. Time will tell!

And it's not like she's new to Harleys. "When I was in my 20s, I definitely kind of ran with a fast crowd. Some of that involved people with bikes." When pressed on the issue, however, she was quick to cover her possibly misinterpreted as criminal tracks. "I never ran with a real motorcycle club. I want that to be made clear. I just had a lot of boyfriends with bikes, let's put it that way." Cool! That's way more than I can say for myself. What the hell do I know from badass?

At the very least, she definitely sees the character as unmistakably terrifying. "She's vicious. She's ferocious. She's a hard ass. I look at her as a survivor." And crime? For Gemma, that's not a problem at all! "She sees nothing wrong with what she does. It's all a means to an end for her and whatever she needs to do. In the pilot, you see her do some pretty harsh things when her son and grandson are threatened and, from her perspective, what needs to be done."

What needs to be done has not, as yet, featured busting caps, however. "There's one episode I just shot where I take out a hatbox filled with guns. That's all I'll say." But that after five episodes, "I haven't actually shot a gun yet." I will say Gemma definitely finds ways to do some pretty effed up things to people without shooting them. Something that should be commended in an outlaw matriarch, I think. If there's anything I can't stand, it's a criminal with no creativity.

A neat thing about the show is that each one ends with a song playing over the final sequence that underscores the theme of that episode, and in one of them, Katey confirmed, it is her voice that fabulously covers "Son of a Preacher Man." She may not scare me, but homegirl can sing. She also revealed that Taryn Manning will be joining the show for a "four or five episode arc," which is clearly great (type)casting, and that in her own time she enjoys watching Weeds, Mad Men and HGTV. At least she's got good taste. Sons of Anarchy premieres tonight at 10 PM.

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