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34 things you learn on the 'Sons of Anarchy' set

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Spend close to 20 hours on location and set with the cast and crew of Sons of Anarchy, and you learn a few fun facts. EW‘s recent cover story (read it online) reveals some of them: among the objects in Charlie Hunnam’s backpack is a marijuana grinder; Katey Sagal is happy to talk about Justin Theroux’s jogging attire on The Leftovers. Here are 34 other things gleaned from EW‘s September visit.

IN THE MAKEUP TRAILER

• When you catch Tommy Flanagan (Chibs) singing “Hurt” on his way in at 6:30 a.m., it’s definitely the Johnny Cash version. “Of course, the Johnny Cash version,” he says later. “I mean Nine Inch Nails, fair enough, they did a great version, but Johnny killed it.”

• Everyone knows the fun begins when Kim Coates (Tig) arrives. On this day, he starts a lively conversation suggesting he’ll wear a Speedo to the show’s premiere screening that weekend. He and Flanagan claim they’ve never worn a Speedo, but Hunnam admits to having donned one as a child. READ FULL STORY

'Sons of Anarchy' reaches the last fork in the road

An act of retaliation is under way. That’s nothing new for Sons of Anarchy, the FX show famous for doling out death sentences to beloved characters—except this bit of revenge is happening in between takes. It’s a September morning at Stevenson Ranch in California’s Santa Clarita Valley, and Charlie Hunnam is shooting a scene in which his character, Jax Teller, dodges gunfire from an angry redneck. After a break in the action, Hunnam delivers a quick and dirty punch to the arm of his costar Tommy Flanagan—payback for an earlier prank where Flanagan left a band of bruises on Hunnam’s bicep for fun. Hunnam runs for cover behind a gun-laden cart a few feet away from where EW stands. “I will find you!” Flanagan bellows. For a moment, there’s a temptation to rat him out. But as any Sons fan knows, you never, EVER rat.

When Sons of Anarchy debuted in 2008, the adrenalized drama was quickly dubbed “Sopranos on wheels,” thanks to its darkly complex portrait of the gunrunning club known as Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original (SAMCRO). But over the course of six ­seasons, fans began using “Hamlet on Harleys” to describe the Shakespearean drama of creator Kurt Sutter’s story about a son (Hunnam) who rises to lead his late father’s motorcycle club but can’t escape the grasp of his manipulative mother, Gemma (Katey Sagal). Now, as the show barrels toward its Dec. 9 finale, it’s earned the right to stand on its own. Sons may well go down as one of the most savage—and addictive—family dramas, even if the family is ­bonded by honor instead of blood. After all, in addition to TV’s fiercest matriarch, it features the most moving man-hugs (fan and onetime guest star ­Stephen King has crowned it the “best bro show ever”); the most brutal-but-beautiful montages (“ballets of death,” ­executive producer Paris Barclay likes to call them); and the only leading man with both the looks to land a Calvin Klein ­fragrance ad and the street cred to get props from tattooed fans in East L.A. (“You keep the hood safe on Tuesday nights,” one recently told him.)

That strange, special mix draws an average of 8.1 million viewers a week—an audience as loyal to the series as the members of SAMCRO are to their outlaw brothers. Blockbuster ratings and ­profitable merchandising (from branded bikinis to cigars) have made the show not just FX’s ­biggest hit but also its most ­valuable one. All eyes are now on the Men of ­Mayhem and Queen Gemma, with fans ­anxiously awaiting the answers to two looming questions: What’s going to happen when Jax finds out it was his mother who killed his wife with a carving fork to the head in one of the most gruesome deaths in TV history? And how will Sutter drive his series into the sunset? “I know how I want it to end,” says the showrunner. “I think the legacy is already out there: People have embraced the world. They love that they can have fun watching it, yet the next scene they can be bawling. If we can continue to do that, that’s really what I’ll be most proud of.” READ FULL STORY

'Sons of Anarchy' guest star Walton Goggins on that Venus-Tig moment

Venus Van Dam (Justified‘s Walton Goggins) has become a dear friend to Tig (Kim Coates) on FX’s Sons of Anarchy, and their relationship took another step in the Sept. 30 episode. “He’s got that twisted, twisted deal in his head, but that’s pure care and love for her in that sort of protective way,” Coates says of the characters’ first kiss. Goggins tells EW about the emotional return—and teases Venus’ next appearance in the final season’s tenth episode. READ FULL STORY

'Sons of Anarchy' postmortem: Kurt Sutter and cast talk 'Wolfsangel' shockers

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched this week’s episode of Sons of Anarchy, “Wolfsangel,” stop reading now. Creator Kurt Sutter and other members of the cast open up about the high body count.  READ FULL STORY

'Sons of Anarchy': Kim Coates talks 'Poenitentia'

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched this week’s episode of Sons of Anarchy, “Poenitentia,” stop reading now. We talked to Kim Coates (Tig) and Billy Brown (August Marks) about key moments. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): How Kim Coates prepared for Tig's torment on 'Sons of Anarchy'

Since we know a lot of people are currently marathoning Sons of Anarchy from the beginning because of the buzz surrounding season 5, we’ll issue a SPOILER ALERT. Stop reading now if you haven’t watched SOA‘s season 5 premiere. In an excerpt from an article originally published in September, actor Kim Coates takes us inside Tig’s first run-in with Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau) — which found its way onto our list of the most disturbing TV scenes ever. For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012: Behind the Scenes coverage. READ FULL STORY

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