Interview: Kim Coates on ‘Sons of Anarchy’, Filming a Scene 38 Times and Preparing for Emotional Scenes (video)
Here are some things I never knew about Kim Coates, who plays Tig on Sons of Anarchy: He’s been on Broadway (A Streetcar Named Desire) and he was the youngest MacBeth ever at Stratford.
He’s been popping up in various television and film roles since 1985 and has been working non-stop ever since. He’s as intense and serious about acting and his work as anyone I’ve ever met.
And I think he’s awesome.
I talked to him at a Comic-Con roundtable about the upcoming season of Sons and I wish I could just sit and talk to him about acting and his career as a whole. I’d bet he’s got some of the greatest stories ever. In the interview, he talked about shooting a SOA scene 38 times. 38! Just him describing what happened you could see his mind go back to that day and his intensity just ramped up and I gotta say, it was thrilling. He also talks about starting in theatre, the upcoming season and more.
For the full interview, check out the video below.
Sons of Anarchy premieres on Tuesday, September 10th at 10pm
Tig found out that Pope has killed his daughter, how did you prepare for this intense scene?
Kim Coates: Kurt Sutter grabbed me in New York City six weeks before we did season five and told me what was going to happen and I’m not kidding you guys, I had tears in my eyes. I have two daughters in real life. I really didn’t know what the fuck he had just told me, but when I got that script I went immediately to my dear friend Dr. Sam Alibrando, he’s a shrink, therapist and we went over the internal workings of a human being. How can you prepare to do something like that, unless you really get into it, right?
So I talked about fight or fleet, fleet or fight, adrenaline, shock, anger, crying, what is numbness, when does the human body go numb. All that stuff and he really knocked it out, he was blown away when he read the two scenes, he couldn’t believe that I had to do that. So for me two nights to film that one scene, I think I did one scene like thirty-eight times.
Kim Coates: Think about that. I mean I lost my voice the first night came back, thank God, for the second. I didn’t go home, I stayed in a motel, I didn’t shower, I stayed in hand cuffs most of the night. I had a smoke occasionally, it was very draining, but as an actor I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget that entire process.
What’s it like shooting a scene that’s 38 times? Your mind just must be like jelly.
Kim Coates: Well I’m an internal actor you know, I’ve been doing it a long time. I started on the stage and I’ve been on Broadway, and I was the youngest MacBeth ever at Stratford. I take this very seriously. So I’ve never planned anything, I literally let it happen after I had mapped it out in my head and I can’t tell you what it was like to see my beautiful daughter in a pit, then pouring ounces of gas on her, but water and Pope was so amazing, and his buddies were so… I mean as actors we never talked the entire season, Maurice and I, we never said one word to each other until it was completely over. That last scene. The last episode when I pulled the trigger and blow his head off, that’s when we both realized, “I’m a big fan, I’m a big fan, I love your work, I love your work.” Because we didn’t talk to each other the entire, it was just one big hate, distrust, hate. When it was all over we’d hug each other like old friends it was really nice.
So lots of crazy stuff has gone down in the series and you’ve known that since the beginning, has there been a time over the course of the last few seasons where you’ve gotten a script and been like surprised at what you’re doing? Because you end up involved in a lot of the stuff that’s gone down.
Kim Coates: Yeah. A couple times I’ve said to Kurt “I’m not doing the scene”, and he took me into his office and told me why I will do the scene, and both times I’m happy to say he was right. In the through-line of Tig and this character.
The first time I was Gemma on season 2, when I banged her against the wall and she comes onto me, I said “I’m not doing it, I’m not doing it, I’m not doing that scene. Clays my best buddy, I mean he’s the President, that would never happen.” You know what Kurt said to me? He said, “Where does Tig go right after that scene, where’s he go right after that scene.” And I went, “he goes to tell Opie”, “Yeah, what’s he tell him?” “He tells him that he killed his wife.” Tig wants to end his life right there, he wants it over. He’s been so fucked up since season two, from killing Donna, Gemma is so screwed up for being raped in that very first episode, which is still my favorite episode of all, that very first one, season two. I thought Gemma was, Katey was unbelievable. He said Gemma comes onto you; you don’t come on to her. Yes you kiss, yes you throw her up against the wall, but you don’t follow through you brake it off before it gets like, he said “listen, the biker world is full of drugs, sex, rock and roll, it’s incestuous, it’s crazy, it’s fucked up. And you need to do this for yourself, and you want Opie to kill you. You’ve had it.”
And he was right it really kind of worked. So, there’s been a couple times where what Kurt’s written I, but I guess that’s the way of Sons of Anarchy, it’s a crazy world right?
Does it feel like the show is coming to an end? Does it feel like there’s an end trajectory in sight for what Tig’s going?
Kim Coates: Great question. I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer that, because the only person who knows is Kurt Sutter. So every time we think Juice can’t even hang himself right, he’s still alive. Tig should have been killed two or three times I’m sure by now. Everyone wants Clay dead, I don’t know how he’s going to end this thing.
But I will tell you from the bottom of my heart, I can’t wait to move on. Kim Coates. I’ve had the best time on this show. This has been my awakening of a regular on a television series, I’ve never done that before, I go to arcs. Arcs. I’m so glad that Kurt and John Linson invited me to this party, because it’s really taught me that there’s some amazing, amazing television being written right now for men and women, and I can’t wait for my own show. I can’t wait for to do my show now, you know. It’s been great being able to support Charlie, Ron, and Katey like all of us have. Sutter giving us our stuff here and there, and being a part of this team is something I’ll never forget, and I’m really glad that there was Sons of Anarchy for me to have a regular role on television.