'Sons of Anarchy': Maggie Siff talks about tonight's shocker ending

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Image Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

If you watched Tuesday’s episode of Sons of Anarchy on FX, you experienced the brutal and gory death of a major character. Fortunately, EW was on the set when the actor was preparing to say goodbye.

But first, a spoiler alert! Don’t read beyond the jump if you haven’t watched the heartbreaking episode.Tara thought she was home clean, quite literally, after Jax decided to turn himself into the Feds — but that was before she found a very high Gemma waiting for her in the kitchen. In one of the more brutal deaths this season, the soulless Gemma stabbed Tara to death — making Siff the latest casualty in Kurt Sutter’s violent psychodrama. EW met up with Siff to talk about her character’s passing, and what’s next for her career.

Were you told at the beginning of the season that Tara would die? 
Kurt Sutter and I sat down and I made a half‑joke because I thought I might be getting killed off. He didn’t respond right away. I was like ‘Oh my God! You’re killing me off!’ He was sort of like well, no. He wasn’t entirely sure yet. There were some things that happened early on in the season with Donal Logue [Editor's note: Logue had to leave early during to scheduling conflict with the History Channel series Vikings] that made life sort of confusing for how this season was going to map out. That was a big plot point that just got lost because he was going to be the main antagonist for the club for the whole season. And so, at least how he explained it to me, he was trying to figure out how to map out the rest of the season. Tara’s death could potentially happen. I knew that Donal going away meant the odds of me dying were greater.

Did you cry?
I maybe did cry a little bit. I think when I sat down with Kurt the second time and he told me yes, this is what we’re doing, I think I actually did cry a little bit. But it was almost more in gratitude than in anything else. It’s been such a long, wonderful journey and I’m very grateful for it. But as an actor, six years of anything is sort of insane. I think that we all are curious and interested in what the rest of our life is. I think all of us have felt the end of the series kind of sneaking up on us over the last year‑and‑a‑half. I think actually when Opie died. It’s sort of like oh, this is really the beginning of the end of our journey singularly, and collectively.

Could you imagine a scenario where Tara wouldn’t die this year?
I think I’ve always felt like it could go one of two ways for Tara. You know, there’s the Ophelia model and then there’s the Tara morphing into Gemma and taking her place and sort of ascending her throne.

What’s it like around here when a character dies?
It’s really surreal.  It’s very hard. It’s very hard to imagine it. You know, Ryan Hurst has this whole thing that he’s been talking with Charlie about how you spend all this time trying to embody a character, but nobody ever teaches you how to kill a character.

Talk about Tara’s arc this season.
I think she started the season on a really kind of dark, but strong note, in that once she finds herself in prison, she realizes that she’s going to have to change her reality and that it’s going to take a tremendous effort of will and wiliness, and plotting. She doesn’t have any allies that she can think of and that includes Jax and Gemma. The end of Season 5 was really a rough moment. I think on some deep level, she fundamentally feels like Jax has chosen the club over her and the family.And so, she realizes she’s going to deliver her children to safety. It’s really sad. I mean partly because she’s somebody who did get out at another point in her life, you know, but has slowly found herself, found her way back in and then found that the walls of this prison just sort get higher and thicker. Part of it is her love for this person and for these people and the fact that they’re the only family she knows and the only family she has. In the third or fourth episode she says to Unser, ‘It’s not about me anymore.’ And I’ve been holding onto that throughout the season.

Has Tara been the moral center?
I don’t know. I think it’s interesting the way it’s developed because she definitely was the moral center of the show for a while. I think Kurt used her as a window, through which the audience could experience the club and the life of the club. You could see her loving these people in spite of herself, in spite of knowing better. I think she remained a moral center in that she continues to be one of the only in the world who experiences real emotional conflict around the violence and the difficulty and the pain of the life and wanting something better for her children.

It’s been pretty dark this year.
Every year I feel like I said oh, it’s just getting worse and worse.  But it does. Kurt Sutter sort of escalates the violence.  Every episode people die. But, you know, as the seasons have progressed there have been like these heart‑wrenching losses that have to do with the people that we lose within the club or within the family — the things that happen within that family that we’re following. Every season has been more horrible than the one that’s preceded it and this one is no exception.

What has this role meant to your career?
I really was a theater rat — and I say that in the most affectionate sense — for most of my career until I came out here to do the first season of Mad Men. Then I went straight into this. So, my whole life just kind of changed. Having a job that lasts this long provides an incredible amount of stability for an actor especially if you’re coming from the theater where stability is not really part of your vocabulary. This show and like the world of this show is so far removed from what I could ever have really imagined for myself for a whole host of reasons. During our first read‑through, I walked in and I was like what am I doing here? Like I was looking around like at Boone and Kim and, you know, all these like big, scary, burly‑looking character dudes. And I was like what the hell? It’s been a really interesting journey for me. And I’ve never entirely felt like I fit into the world or familial. And that’s been the tension of my life on the show.  Although I, Maggie, felt incredibly loved and embraced by everybody.

What’s next for you?
Theater’s a huge part of my life and I’ll never stop doing that. I’ll probably take a little time. I’d love to do some more independent film projects for a little while. And I would love to find another great cable show because I feel like that’s the kind of thing that the gift of being on a show that is — has such high quality of writing and acting and directing.

UPDATE: For more insight into the finale, read our burning questions with Siff, Sutter and Sagal, as well our postmortem interviews with Theo Rossi, Rockmond Dunbar, and Jimmy Smits.

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