'Sons of Anarchy' creator defends his style of storytelling

Charlie-Sons-Anarchy_240.jpg Image Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter defended his style of storytelling via his Twitter page today after one of his stars complained to a Chicago paper that the actors were often left in the dark about future plotlines. Sutter tweeted that “I regret some of my cast feel that the writers are conspiring to `keep actors in the dark'” after star Charlie Hunnam (Jax Teller) said he didn’t appreciate the lack of information about his character. “There’s a philosophy here, which I don’t always agree with as an actor, that it’s better for actors to know as little as possible,” Hunnam told the Chicago Tribune. “I actually don’t agree with that because most of my experiences in acting are in film, where you know all of the answers going in, and you make your choices accordingly.

“Keeping actors in the dark is not always the right move, because without knowing the direction that something’s going, one can make slight mistakes,” Hunnam continued. “There has to be a big, psychological leap to get to where you’re being taken.”

Today, Sutter tweeted that “I share big story arcs with my actors before we start shooting” and “try to bring them up to speed emotionally so we’re all on the same page” before continuing with “the specific plot twists and turns are not locked down until i’m into my draft. That means the actors don’t know until they get the script.” He writes later that “I love my cast and try to challenge their talent with quality writing and deep, 3-dimensional stories … that effort requires focus and time” before posting “perhaps if they were doing a network procedural they’d have a showrunner who could tell them everything and assuage their apprehension.”

Sons of Anarchy kicks off its third season on FX Sept. 7.


Comments (39 total) Add your comment
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  • Brian

    SOA is just more proof that most of the quality work on TV isn’t being done on the big 3 anymore.

    And, again, Katey Seagal was robbed.

  • paige

    dont be biting the hand that feeds you.

  • Julian

    Someone tell Jax to shut up, it seems to be working well this far.

    • anna

      so he’s not allowed to give his opinion?

      • Gabby

        Um, he’s obviously “allowed” to, just as we’re “allowed” to criticize it for being stupid and whiny.

      • @Gabby

        Stupid and whiny? I thought he came across as articulate and well-thought. You’ve never complained about your boss? Please.

  • Brittany

    I can understand both points of view here. Were I an actress, I’d probably want to know everything that I could know — because that’s just who I am. I’m curious like that and I’d want to think it all over.

    Yet at the same time, it also helps if you don’t know certain things. I’m reminded of the first season of 24, when Sarah Clarke said it actually helped her performance not to know that she was the mole, because she was playing as authentically as possible.

    I think it really is a matter of personal preference.

  • Jimmie

    I personally don’t care how Sutter does it – I love the show – love Jax and think Katey S plays the best character on television. My hubby and I watch it on Hulu because we don’t do TV – and this one is barely up and we log on and watch.

    Greatest show anywhere.

  • Ceballos

    “perhaps if they were doing a network procedural they’d have a showrunner who could tell them everything and assuage their apprehension.”

    S to the NAP.

    • Bren

      I love how “procedural” has become to go to insult these days.

      • Bren

        I hate, however, the finger/mind disconnect I get when typing after an inadequate amount of caffeine has been consumed…should be “the” go to insult. Sigh.

  • AK

    I’ve never seen “Sons of Anarchy,” so I have no comment on its quality. But why does the creator feel the need to make his point by insulting all television produced for the broadcast networks? Just because a show isn’t on cable doesn’t make it bad; nor does being off the major networks automatically signify quality. How pretentious.

    • Michelle

      Watch this show and you will totally understand. It is leagues above any of those network shows.

      • I-22

        But AK’s point still remains, just because you are not on a network doesn’t automatically mean your show is better or better run than network shows. No matter how good SOA is.

    • Nick V

      He didn’t say all broadcast network shows. He said procedurals. You wouldn’t agree that, by nature, procedurals, especially those on the networks, are more than likely not going to be as good or interesting as serials, especially those on cable?

  • Steve K

    Please – this has nothing to do with Charlie Hunnam’s anxiety over making the ‘wrong choice’ as an actor.

    This has to do with Charlie Hunnam realizing, after 2 critically acclaimed years, that he’s got all the boost from this show that he’s going to get, and he needs to exit next year if he wants his career to move to the next level.

    • Lilith

      I disagree. Having met Charlie a couple of times previous to him getting this role, and following his career since Queer as Folk, I know how seriously he takes his craft. I think he is simply stating that he understands the philosophy behind the way Sutter works, but finds it difficult to work that way himself

    • DT

      I can understand Hunnam’s viewpoint here. Surprise twists can put a damper on things. I know I’d be annoyed if I put a lot of effort and preparation into a show whose premise I took seriously and the showrunners started doing third-rate soap operaish stuff like *SPOILER ALERT* baby abductions by mad Irishmen while the sheriff and mom ride off into the sunset like Thelma and Louise. *END SPOILER* I’d be pretty annoyed if a serious project I’d signed on to to further my thespian skills started doing crappy stuff like that. I say all this as a fan who became disgruntled with the finale and hopes they do better this year, or else I’m gone.

  • Machunny

    I read Charlie Hunnam’s interview earlier and am surprised by Sutter’s reaction. Charlie was simply stating a fact–he found it difficult to not know where the character was going, as opposed to movie work he’s done in the past. I’m disappointed and saddened by Kurt Sutter’s very publicly taking offense and airing the grievance. It only hurts the show and likely opens a rift among the cast and crew. I can’t imagine Sons without Charlie, and hope this dust settles quickly.

  • Indianacat

    Not very informative EW. You take a few quotes from Mr. Hunnam and some of Mr. Sutter’s tweets and try to make a fight where there isn’t one.

    Jaysus! Get a job and write something with a little more meat to it!

    • Nivek

      Excellent point, Cat! More stupid media spin on a non-story.

  • Indianacat


    There isn’t a problem between the two. This mag only told a part of the story to get attention.

    Sutter later tweeted that he and Charlie had talked and all is well in SOA land.

    Note, there has YET, as of 1115PM EST, been an update to the story to reflect such. I imagine there won’t be.

  • gara

    I would think, just like real life, not knowing what was going to happen next infuses the scene and makes it seem more true to form. I also agree with Brittany, I see both sides. As an employee of the show Charlie, probably just wants to know where the show is going. Most people like to be “in the know” at their jobs.

  • George

    This show has had some great moments. Yet I still feel that it hasn’t found it shakespirian concept that you can find in it sister show Shawn Ryan The Shield. In a way his Hunnam opinion explain why this is so.

    • DT

      George, you make an excellent point, but it’s spelled Shakespearean. Sorry about being a jerk inpointing that out. Nice point, though.

  • Erika

    Such a great show! Pls no fighting! Katey Sagal (sorry if I spelled incorrectly!). Wow!! I want to be her in a few years. She is sooo MILF-y! And she’s great in the show too! LOL

  • Paul

    I love what they’re doing with that show. And no offense to the guy playing Jax but one of the best things about his character is his general confusion. Every actor has limitations and Sutter’s right, for that actor playing that character on that show, what they’re doing is working.

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