It seems like forever that Sons of Anarchy came to a dramatic close, though we can remember each distinct detail as if we experienced it for the first time just yesterday. The show was an unexpected hit, led by a creator that was fairly inexperienced (by today’s stringent standards) and a cast that seemed rocky. However, the show turned out to be one of the most watched shows around and ran for six years before coming to an epic finale. While the show introduced some decently newer faces to Hollywood, like Charlie Hunnam and Maggie Siff, the show also gave opportunities for seasoned actors to return to the spotlight in ways they never had before, like Ron Perlman, Katey Sagal, and Mark Boone Junior. The show was, to say the absolute least, epic and amazing.
If you haven’t sat down and watched the whole series, we highly recommend binge-watching this one. But if you have, we’re willing to bet that you have spent plenty of time re-watching episodes and discussing the characters and quietly falling in love with a couple of them while you built up fan theories in your head and even modestly considered writing FanFiction for a while. You’re not alone! This show was CRAZY addictive and so well written that we yearned for more, even after the finale.
So here’s your dose of more that you may not have known. While we can’t give you more story, we can sure dig deeper into the stories they created and give you some more context around the production of the show. Here’s what went down behind the scenes of Sons of Anarchy:
15. People Passed Out On Set Constantly
There are a lot of liabilities on film sets. Any time there are stunts involved, everyone on the production team has to make sure that main cast members and any stunt doubles are completely comfortable at all times. Minor accidents happen all the time with set up and teardown of sets, from lights falling to motorized set pieces taking on lives of their own. But on the Sons of Anarchy set, one of the greatest and most constant worries was dehydration and passing out from heat and sun exposure. Since much of the series was shot outside, during the day in the heat of the Southern California sun while motorcyclists were in full denim and leather regalia, cast members were passing out all the time- in fact, it was such a regular occurrence, the cast and crew jokingly called it “going timber.” Crew members were cycled off work on a weekly basis to ensure their well-being.
14. Ron Perlman Was Scared of His Bike
Ron Perlman was one of the most iconic characters on Sons of Anarchy. While the series is really more about Jax and Gemma, we all kind of feel like Clay was truly one of the leads of the show. His character was iconic to the series, just as much as anyone else’s (if not more). But would it surprise you to know that this man, who played such a hard-ass, tough, no nonsense, amazing character- this big, tough guy was absolutely afraid of his motorcycle. We’re serious! Ron Perlman was kind of terrified of his Harley Davidson on the show. While almost every other cast member drove their own motorcycles and were active motorists (who even did most of their own stunts and absolutely all of their riding shots), Ron learned just for the show and took a few tumbles off his bike while filming. Other cast members say that Ron looks so intensely tough that no one would ever guess- but this big teddy is terrified of his bike.
13. David Labrava’s Tats Are All Real
Do you really think that most of the cast has that many tattoos? Oh, how naive and foolish and green to the ways of Hollywood you must be. Look: most times you see an actor on television with a tattoo that seems to perfectly suit their character, it’s because it’s not a real tattoo. Actors spend plenty of time in makeup every morning getting to look the part. Makeup artists not only attend to eye makeup and blush, but to bruising, scars, and tattoos. However, David Labrava didn’t need to spend a whole lot of time in the makeup trailer. The actor, who played Happy, had only authentic tattoos! Pretty remarkable, huh? Even the smiley face tattoo on his arm was an old tat that inspired the nickname that his character was given. It just goes to show that even the strangest of tattoos can find their place in Hollywood.
12. David Labrava Is a Real Life Hell’s Angel
You thought that David Labrava was a badass for all of his tattoos? Okay, while it’s hard to sit in a chair while someone inks you all day, that’s nothing compared to everything else David has been through. The actor is a real life Hell’s Angel (if you don’t know who the Hell’s Angels are, we’re confused at how you could possibly be interested in Sons of Anarchy or know anything at all about motorcycle culture), and was actually kept on retainer throughout the filming of the series as a consultant for the writers, since he really knew what motorcycle gangs were like from the inside out. That’s right: his Death Head tattoo is a real one. This guy is one you never want to give the wrong look. He became an inactive member of the club while filming the series, but he’s still absolutely in good standing with Hell’s Angels and he told interviewers he intended to return to the club after filming ended.
11. Chib’s Scars are Real
While there may be tougher and more intimidating characters in the show, anyone looking at the cast for the first time probably looks right at Tommy Flanagan and shivers in fear. This guy looks like a total bad ass. Why? Mostly because of that serious face outlined in scars. But what’s more unnerving? While many other cast members sit in the makeup trailer for a while having their tattoos put on and scars applied, Tommy can walk right on to set with his real and genuine scars. Tommy was jumped when he was just a young man when he lived in Glasgow, Scotland, where he was trying to make a living as a DJ. After a gig, late at night, he was jumped by a man with a knife that carved the smile onto his face. That would be enough to ruin anyone’s life, but Tommy sure found a way to be positive about it and ended up using his symmetrical scars to his advantage in his acting career.
10. Sneakers, Not Boots
You may have noticed while watching (and, let’s be honest, rewatching) some of your most favorite episodes of Sons of Anarchy that the leading character Jax rarely wore motorcycle boots; he almost always wore white Nike sneakers. Why? Because actor Charlie Hunnam (who played Jax) did his homework and insisted on portraying the role right. While researching for the role, he found that riders in clubs rarely actually wore standard motorcycle boots; they typically wore comfortable sneakers. So he went to the costuming team and they picked out a stylish pair of kicks for him to sport. He typically only wore these sneakers for the entirety of the series, until of course his white Nikes got a bit too blood stained and he tossed them out in favor of some more hard-core looking boots. Kudos to you, Charlie Hunnam, for getting the role right and not just assuming that hardcore biker dudes wear hardcore biker boots.
9. Pediophobia, in the Show and Reality
Sons of Anarchy, as a show, was not just enjoyable because the characters were solid archetypes. In other words, we didn’t love the show because the main cast members portrayed the stereotypes of what a tough biker dude was. Well, sure they did that- but the show was written so wonderfully that none of the cast members were ever exactly what they seemed. They all had small quirks and character traits that they were relatable and human. One character in particular, Tig, had an interesting fear to serve as his quirk: fear of dolls, also known as pediophobia (not to be confused with pedophilia, a TOTALLY different thing). Funny enough, while actor Kim Coates wasn’t afraid of any such thing, series creator Kurt Sutter suffers from the phobia in real life! He decided to give the character the odd quirk because he knew it so intimately. After all, how does that maxim go? “Write what you know?”
8. Ron Perlman Almost Wasn’t In the Show
Can you even imagine a Sons of Anarchy without Clay? Well, to be fair the writers never really wanted to lose the character of Clay- but they almost didn’t include Clay as we know him, and they almost didn’t include Ron Perlman, who is a staple of the show! Would half of us even have tuned in to watch the show if Ron weren’t in it? He was the Sean Bean to his Game of Thrones, the Norman Reedus of his Walking Dead! Who would have tuned in to watch the show, had it been someone else? Originally, the producers cast Scott Glenn to play Clay (you know, the skinny old guy from The Silence of the Lambs, Daredevil, and Sucker Punch) and filmed the first few episodes with him. But when FX picked up the show, they insisted Clay go in a “different direction,” and the role was recast with Ron Perlman and all the scenes were re-shot.
7. “I Got This”
We have decided that anyone who says “I got this” indeed does not have this. The colloquial phrase is used when people are so confident (or are at least feigning such high levels of confidence) that they can overcome the challenges facing them that they turn to their peers and shun the laws of grammar. “I got this.” It’s the phrase Jax says to his fellow club members as he hops onto his motorcycle in the finale of the show and (spoiler alert) rides head first to his demise. Interestingly enough, it’s also the phrase that Opie said, partially to himself and partially to those around him, before being killed in prison. So we caution all you readers: if you think you “got this,” maybe rethink one more time and really evaluate the situation before you. Do you really “got this?” Or do you just feel you need to “got this?” Because no one should want their last words to be the incorrect phrase, “I got this.”
If you have seen any in-depth interviews with Kurt Sutter on the writing, creation, themes, or ideas behind Sons of Anarchy, you probably heard some mention that the show is loosely based off of William Shakespeare’s iconic play “Hamlet.” In the play, a young man (Hamlet, aka Jax) is a young man born into power, one who lost their father at a young age and has lived under the scrutiny of an evil stepfather. Claudius (aka Clay) is pretty much the bad guy, though there are plenty of moments that make us question that. Gertrude (aka Gemma- CRAZY SIMILAR NAMES, RIGHT) is one of the few female leads and watches her precious Hamlet (or Jax) spiral into madness over the course of the story. There are plenty of other parallels to speak of, plus Kurt directly named an episode after the play (“Suits of Woe” is a line from the play).
5. Katey Sagal Sang in Every Season
Katey Sagal, who played Gemma in the iconic series, actually tried to get her start in her career as a singer. She actually thought her biggest break was when she was employed as a backup singer for a Bob Dylan tour, but just a short week before the tour started, Katey and half of Bob’s band were let go. She wound up having an immensely successful career nonetheless, best known for her roles in Sons of Anarchy, Married With Children, Futurama, and Lost, but still absolutely has a passion for her singing career. Fortunately for her, her talent has not gone to waste and she’s still more popular than any of us realize! She said in an interview that she’s actually gotten a chance to sing a song for every season of Sons of Anarchy- for some seasons, she actually had multiple tracks. Gemma is, as we all know, a very talented woman.
4. Lee Toric and His Early Demise
Yeah… what ever happened to Lee Toric? Why did he die so early in season six, when it still seemed like there was so much use for his character and endless possibilities for him to go? Well, first of all, that’s kind of like life: no one ever expects to die when they do. But second of all, Lee’s death was not planned. Actor Donal Logue, who portrayed the role, absolutely loved playing the part and was doing his best to take a leading role in Vikings while staying involved in the show- but Vikings started production earlier than expected and Donal had to walk away from Sons of Anarchy to play King Horik. His character apparently would have died shortly thereafter in the season, so his death was no shock to the writing team, but it didn’t lessen the shock as we experienced it. No worries! He’s gone on to have leading roles in Gotham and Law & Order, so it all worked out.
3. All The Shield Cameos
If you aren’t a big fan of Sons of Anarchy (then why are you reading this list?), you may still not know who Kurt Sutter is. In an industry with a seemingly finite sources of creative talent, the creator of the show came out of nowhere and became one of the most successful television producers out there. But actually, he didn’t really come out of nowhere (in case you didn’t know, everyone always comes from somewhere). Kurt actually came from The Shield, where he started his work as a lead writer and ended as an executive producer. He owes a lot to his time on The Shield, and he certainly pays homage back to the show all the time. Tons of actors from the show have appeared in episodes of Sons of Anarchy, including Michael Chiklis, Benito Martinez, Ally Walker, and Emilio Rivera. After a while, Kurt declared no leading actors from The Shield could manage to escape their characters to appear on Sons of Anarchy unless they grew boobs… so Walton Goggins convinced Kurt to write him into an episode as a transgender man!
2. The Show Was a Family Affair
If you’ve gotten this far into the list, we’re pretty sure you’re more than a viewer that watched the occasional episode; you’re probably a true fan that knows the series fairly intimately. If you know the series well, you are probably well aware that the creator of the show, Kurt Sutter, has been married to the actress that played Gemma (Katey Sagal) for over a decade. But that’s not all the family that was pulled onto the show to help out! Katey’s younger sister wound up being one of the show’s producers, and her brother Joe showed up in an episode. McNally Sagal, one of Katey’s sister-in-law’s played Margaret Murphy in the series. While the extent of Katey’s relatives might end there, there’s still more! Donal Logue (who played Lee Toric) got his sister Katerina on set to play his character’s sister, Pamela. Talk about a welcoming workplace- must be nice to work with family!
1. Kurt Sutter is There for His Fans
Remember Hurricane Sandy back in 2012? It was one of the most catastrophic hurricanes to make landfall in the United States in a long time (at least since Hurricane Katrina). Actually, second only to the national emergency that was Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy turned out to be the second most expensive hurricane in United States history. While most of us were worried about the national monuments that had been damaged, the families left homeless, and the limited amount of resources to go around to help, a surprising amount of people were more concerned about whether or not they’d be able to watch Sons of Anarchy that week. Well, no fear: Kurt Sutter was totally there for his fans. He personally bought 5000 copies of that week’s episode to give out for free so that fans could catch up. If that charity won’t instill loyalty in a fan base, nothing will!