The stakes are getting higher and higher this season on the FX smash hit SONS OF ANARCHY. The cast is changing up and there are new faces and that includes Donal Logue.
Logue has a career that has some very memorable shows including NORTHERN EXPOSURE, X-FILES, and the NBC hit series ER. His film career includes BLADE, THE PATRIOT, GHOST RIDER and MAX PAYNE.
Now, as Lee Toric, a mystery man out for revenge on SONS OF ANARCHY, its going to be interesting to see how fast his character shows his true colors as we season comes closer to its end.
I had the chance to speak with Donal about his role in SONS and his thoughts about the characters, working with Kurt Sutter and advice for budding actors!
Thanks for joining us today Donal.
No problem at all.
Tell us how you landed this role?
I’ve been kind of talking to Kurt [Sutter] about doing something on the show for the last three years. What had happened was invariably he would always have a conversation with me like 42 seconds after I had committed to doing another pilot. Two years ago it was Hallelujah, this thing for ABC. Then last year I had done a western called Tin Star for TNT, neither of which ended up going. I was like, oh my God, I really, I would love to join the show. I’m not going to know until—they let you know. I just basically couldn’t join, and not for lack of Kurt trying to get me on. Then this year finally we had a meeting, and he was like I think I have an idea for this guy. It has been something we have been trying to do for a while.
What have you enjoyed about being on SONS so far?
My sister obviously had worked on the show for the couple of episodes prior, and a lot of the crew on the show were people I had worked with before on both Terriers and … and different shows. What Karina said to me when she started working was, “Oh my God, everybody is just so nice and so cool.”
I’d have to say my favorite thing about working on the show, and something that might be intriguing to other people is that even though the world is so ─ it’s just such an amazingly welcoming environment to work on that set. You know, it’s not too cool for school and alienating. It’s totally the opposite. I think my favorite thing has been to have known all those guys a little bit. We kind of see each other around the block over the years, but to finally get to jump in there and work with them has been like a complete and utter treat.
I just think the show is really good. I’m a fan of the show. It’s really the first time I’ve jumped on something that I was kind of actively engaged, and just following myself so I could get excited about it in that way. I’d have to say overall just, I don’t know, just from cast to crew, and certainly from Kurt and Paris Barclay and on down like everybody has just been so great that it was just a really, I don’t know, it sounds so absurd to go with such a kind of fun experience, but you know what I mean.
They’re serious about the work. Look, I have a small, small thumbprint on a big moving mural that’s been in play for years and years. It was just kind of a really thrilling little ride on this big world of Sons of Anarchy.
Did one thing have to do with the other?
Well, it was interesting because in the case of Terriers, when Karina did Terriers, Shawn Ryan had already worked with Karina, my sister. He knew her before he knew me. We sat down at the beginning of the season and he said, “What do you think about this?” Ted [Griffin] and Shawn sat me down. “You’re going to have a crazy sister.” I said, “That’s great. I’ve got three.” You know, because I have three sisters. He goes, “No, yeah, we’d really like ‘Hank’ to have a schizophrenic sister. I think Karina would be awesome.”
On this one it was different in that Kurt knew that he wanted to have me as this guy, but then he told Wendy O’Brien, the casting director, “I need someone who looks like the female Donal Logue.” She was like, “Well, you know his sister Karina is a really great actress?” He said, “No, I didn’t know that at all.” So it was funny. That’s how that went down.
Is there something specifically you love about SONS?
What I really love about Sons of Anarchy, and what I love about Kurt is in a weird way he has such a kind of fluid ─ he navigates really kind of fluidly through both these incredibly gritty street-level worlds, and he’s a very kind of aridite intellectual, too. Our … thing was kind of smashing, like the theater of cruelty was just shaking people up through kind of a shocking, not sadistic violence or something, but just shock value. Like, okay, so if you passively like war and support the war effort, I’m bringing the body of a seven-year-old child who got—you know, like, I’m going to show you what war is.
Everybody is like, this guy is so bad, this guy’s sister was brutally murdered by an outlaw organization that engages in illegal activities. I get it. I root for the underdog and I root for the bad, you know, I understand where the anti-hero stuff comes. I think ‘Lee Toric’s’ game is that, I understand, you want to say ─ oh, in our world these things happen and this is part of the game and there’s collateral damage. I’m going to bring a shocking level of violence to you to show you that you’re perspective and perception of what is right and wrong is wrong. I think it’s a kind of a really powerful moral stance.
Of course, Kurt knows me, and we know each other well. When I read this description of him, I thought, oh, what a kind of interesting creation of this guy who marries the kind of intellectual with the violent world. ‘Toric’ is a Harvard educated special forces guy who was a roguish U.S. Marshal, but what I love about it is that I have a feeling with this guy that even in the scene with ‘Tara’ where she’s tough and she’s kind of ─ she’s come up and she’s been playing this game for years, he’s been playing this game for decades. It’s like; I think you’ve seen some stuff? I’ve seen bodies hanging from bridges. This is the world I come from, and I’ve been doing it for a long time.
Go plot, go spin, go try and figure out what I’m up to, but I’m five steps ahead of you. You know, it’s The Outlaw Josey Wales. This has taken something very personal, this whole, this world has taken something very personal from him, and I don’t think he cares. I think he was utterly fair when he said to her, “I believe that you didn’t know what this guy, what his intentions were, but I believe my niece and nephew thought they were going to grow up with a mother.”
I don’t think he’s, I think he’s up to some pretty intense scheming, but I don’t think he’s necessarily like, you know, I don’t think he would have done it if someone wouldn’t have killed his sister. Let’s put it that way.
What do you watch on television when you have the time?
I’m behind on; I’m really behind on everything. I just, after I finished Sons I went to Ireland to work for a while so I was out of T.V. land. I am excited to start Downtown Abbey, which I’ve never seen any of, and I have to get caught up on Game of Thrones, which I have DVR’d up at my house in Oregon. I would say that is about what I am intrigued to get into right now.
Is this all going to go into next season?
It’s interesting because I think it’s fair to say that there’s, I think it’s fair to say that whatever he’s got to do might take a while to do. I didn’t know exactly like what the parameters were in terms of talking about the beyond, but I think ‘Lee Toric’ is a pretty significant threat to these guys. I think that, I’m implying that it could go somewhere deeper and further.
Do you ever think about TERRIERS and a Season Two- how that would have been for you?
Oh, yes. All the time. In fact, I had a really a really good hang with Michael Raymond-James yesterday, and we muse about it. We muse about shooting our own little Indie film version of Season 2. I have to say that it was a thrilling kind of ride to be on Terriers, and of course it was really this kind of odd circumstance where it was really loved by the people it was loved by, but it didn’t really do well. In fairness to FX, they were just so generous in keeping it on the air the whole year.
There is something about it, especially I talked to some people in Europe who had seen it, and it really played to them like a BBC mini-series. It ended on this kind of really kind of beautiful existentialist kind of moment, and so to me it felt like a complete document. I miss it, of course, but I felt like however that all 13 tied up I felt like at least we have that, and it feels kind of ─ Michael and I joked about what if it just started going downhill after that and becoming absurd? At least it has this tight little package that’s really nice. I’m kind of having fun moving on and doing all these other things.
Are you going to be firing shots in the season finale?
I can’t really say. I wouldn’t, I don’t think that ─ Look, the finale is action-packed because I was there at the read-through and around for some of the filming. I think it’s kind of an interesting ─ my trajectory is a little different in that so, but some scary stuff goes on. I think in this instance I’ll say you’ll just have to tell people they’ll have to watch.
Without giving anything away, what was it like at the table reading?
It’s great. You know, it’s just a really good group of people. I will have to say, though, that I’m not sure if it was for the finale, but I remember at some point it was very sobering. At some point at one of the table reads, it basically was the morning that the news had come out about their former cast mate, Johnny [Lewis], you know, because these were filmed a few months back.
You know, it was pretty somber, and there was a kind of a bit of discussion about that and stuff. It’s been a really interesting journey.
I knew Tommy [Flanagan] barely and Mark Boone Junior. I’m really good friends with Danny Trejo. I’ve known…the show Life, and so I kind of know—and Kim [Coates]. I knew people, but not well, and so it was just really fun to kind of get to know these people in the last few months, and work with them.
It’s interesting because I always felt when I did ER, I was kind of like a recurring guy for a little while on ER, similar thing—this is a big, mega-hit in mid-run, and you’re coming in for a tiny thumbprint. It always surprised me that the most successful and really amazing shows were also the happiest kind of environments, and welcoming. They’re not like, “Hey, we’re ER, so don’t you show up and come rolling in with a gurney and blow your lines.”
There wasn’t that kind of vibe. I have to say that. What I love about it, too, is when they discover at the read-through some heavy kind of ─ I remember for two episodes back when my character is introduced at the read-through. I have those scenes with ‘Otto.’ At the end they’re just reading the narrative, the action that ‘Tara’ walks down the hall, and then this guy, this ‘Lee Toric’ guy gets up and starts following her and the kids. I just remember all the guys who were sitting at one table all look up like, “What? You’re going after the kids?” People are deeply involved and invested in the stuff that is happening in the show. It has been very interesting, I have to say.
Did you have people asking immediately who your character is?
Yes, yes. I love that sense of mystery about it. I probably should have done a better job. It would have been better if they had no connection to who he was, concerning the nurse, until last night’s episode. Yes, but it’s been really fun because you see how deeply, deeply invested in this show people are.
That’s kind of like the gift of ─ there are many gifts to one-hour television. I always feel like the coolest thing about it is the way Dickens used to write. It would come out in these kinds of like installments. Every month these bits of David Copperfield, or Oliver Twist, or whatever that people are really waiting around. They’ll finish it and they’ll get a kind of depression because they can’t wait to get that next bit of information because they are so into it. That’s kind of like this serialized nature of Sons of Anarchy.
People are really ─ I love that that’s what people ─ people were hitting me up. People even out in public were like, “What are you up too? Are you trying to kill the kids?” I thought it’s kind of cool to be involved in something that has that level of passion and interest.
What do you do to get into the mindset of your character?
I think he’s a bright guy. I just think that he’s ─ what’s interesting is, we had talked about this before even with Kurt, that a lot of times you’ll either have existing law enforcement types who are maybe antagonistic, but start to shift the longer they are around the club. This is the first time someone comes in from a satellite, from beyond, and is very skilled and is very experienced, and also has from the get-go a super particular ax to grind. I like the idea that it’s kind of, and I think that people have mentioned this to me; it just feels to them like a threat of a different level. That’s fun to play.
Tell us about working with Peter Weller?
Peter Weller is fantastic. Peter I had met years ago. When I met him on the set here I said, “Look, I met you years ago. You’re not going to remember. Of course, I do.”
We have a really good mutual friend named Corey Brennan who was truly this Renaissance genius guy who was a great punk rock guitar player. He was in the Lemonheads and Bullet LaVolta, but he also won this huge American Academy in Rome prize for this piece of scholarship he did on ─ he’s a classic scholar. Then he went to Bryn Mawr and Princeton.
When Corey was in Rome 20 some years ago he was like, “Man, you won’t believe it. I’m hanging out with Buckaroo Bonzai, with Peter Weller. He’s awesome.” We’ve always had this kind of mutual friend. That’s kind of all we talked about was Corey Brennan when we were hanging out on the set.
I actually don’t care because it’s fine either way, but I really like it when a really good actor is directing you. I just, I kind of just love the notes that Peter Weller gave me. The same goes for Paris Barclay and for Kurt. I think Kurt is a really good actor also, by the way. It was a particular personal circle time thrill to work with Peter Weller.
Can you talk about upcoming projects you have?
Yes, that’s basically ─ I’ve done some smaller films that are kind of intriguing. I did a film with Katie Cassidy and Tracy Spiridakos who is the lead in Revolution, that new show. We did this Indie movie up in Canada last year that I thought was good.
Vikings is this Michael Hirst drama, the guy that wrote Elizabeth, and created The Tudors, and worked on The Borgias, and stuff. I clocked this for a long time, and I tried to get in on it forever, but I think that they initially were just hesitant about having an American join a pretty international cast. It ended up working out, and so I came on Vikings not unlike I came on Sons, at the end of a season maybe setting up some potentially further important story lines. I just got back, but I can say it was a really fantastic experience. I think it’s going to be great.
What is the book “Watchfiends and Rack Screams” that your character Lee Torics is reading that’s on the bed?
Artaud was this French writer. A-r-t-a-u-d, and I think that he was also famously ─ he spent a lot of time in mental institutions. He walked that thin line between. He was a genius, and he was mentally ill probably.
What was fascinating about him ─ I’m no scholar of Artaud, and I have read some in the past, but I will tell you that how it plays with Sons of Anarchy in a weird way too, is that he didn’t believe that there was much of a difference between art and life. He thought that art’s duty was to be as real as life, and to be just basically shocking and brutal. To hit you in your face so hard that it broke the kind of comfortable veneer with which you perceive reality. In a weird way, the way that Sons of Anarchy does that and comes at you with this brutality.
I had mentioned in another question before, but what was interesting about his take on things, and the way I saw it in terms of ‘Lee Toric’ was Artaud basically would say, “Okay, you kind of like violence? You like war? I’m going to stick ─ let me take you down to the morgue and just shove your face into a dead body just so you can see how much ─ now this is, do you like what this is?” He feels like society is always like I think we should go and do this.
No one’s looking at the bodies on the floor. No one’s standing there. No one’s getting their face shoved in it. He said the only way that people can come around and see things, have a correct perception for how they should really be, is if that happens to them through art, or through life, or whatever.
I think that in a weird way what I have adopted is on one level it’s kind of like what Sons is about. On the other level, I think that what he feels like, ‘Lee Toric’ chose some 30 years ago when he went into the military that he was going to take on the bad guy. He’s kind of an intellectual guy, so he can always qualify it in different ways. He fought crime. He was involved in some kind of high-level, big intense, dark stuff when he was a U.S. Marshal.
I think his thing is, I dip into all these worlds where people can say, well, in that world, in the cartel world, in the motorcycle club world stuff happens. People get killed. You know the rules. It’s kind of amoral in this kind of way. I think his thing is I’ll shock you with ─ to make you see what’s right and wrong, I’m going to come at you ten times heavier. If that makes any sense.
I think that’s what was kind of genius about Kurt’s choice of who he’d be reading to get strength and buffet his crusade. He’s on a crusade.
Did you have any input to your character?
He just knows me pretty well. It was all Kurt. It’s basically like he knew me well enough to go, “Don’t worry. When you come back I think I have the perfect suit that will fit you well.” It feels like a custom-made role.
It’s interesting because I had been talking to him for a couple of years about joining the show in different capacities. I’d have to say that this is ─ it just kind of worked out for the best that this is the way it went down because I love this character. I love this kind of foreboding; he’s a pretty fascinating guy. Even when I read it, I was kind of like, “Wow, that’s interesting. How does he have free reign in prison? How does it turn out that he’s not even actively involved in law enforcement anymore?”
SILENT NIGHT is also coming out, can you talk about that?
I had a really fun experience on Silent Night, but I wasn’t there that long. I hadn’t seen the original. This young director named Stephen Miller from Florida, who did some kind of really cool, wild, super low-budget, Indie stuff, has really made this mark for himself in that genre world.
He asked me to do this thing, and I had a choice of a couple of parts. There was this one ─ I don’t know ─ it’s another spoiler kind of weird thing. He’s a weird kind of Santa that you ─ he’s a drifter. What I liked about this drifter was that he went off on these rants that were really kind of interesting, and funny, and kind of heart breaking. I thought ─ I like that kind of stuff. I like doing speeches in a weird way. I’ve been lucky because I’ve had a lot of characters over the years who literally are the guys that ─ even on this Viking show that I just did ─ they’ll do this three or four page speech, and everyone is like, “We haven’t had that much dialogue in the show so far.”
I’m fine with whatever, but sometimes it’s just fun to do those little ─ it’s kind of like acting stunt driving. I think that Silent Night is going to be kind of a fun ─ it felt like one of those ‘70s ─ it felt like the kind of golden era of that genre.
I have had long talks with a lot of my friends about this, but I always feel about ─ first of all, it’s always feels best to do work on something real that’s good. It feels very comfortable doing stuff on Sons of Anarchy. The writing is great and the level of acting chops around you is always very high. It’s very easy to go in there and take your place. You’re in a good environment that is being supported from all sides.
It is fun as an actor because after Terriers I was really bummed out. I actually went to truck driving school. I’m not trying to be overly crazy dramatic about it, but I just was kind of like I feel grounded out by the ─ I’ve been doing this for a couple of decades, and I kind of lost the joy. I ended up doing this really goofy, but really fun experience in this other horror-type film.
I went and did a comedy improv show in San Francisco. I was at a theater and I saw this ─ it was one of those old theaters that hadn’t played since the ‘30s and ‘40s ─ and I looked around at these pictures of Burgess Meredith and Ernest Borgnine and stuff, and all the different shows they did. I realized guys like Burgess Meredith when you read their obituary; it was like he appeared in over 300 movies and 7,000 episodes of television and 1,400 productions on Broadway. It was so insane. That’s what you do. You just go from part to part to part to part and you embrace what is different about all the different parts. I had a particularly good time getting to hang out with Malcolm McDowell and Jaime King.
They are fantastic people, but God he is a great guy. It’s weird when you’re around one of those guys that ─ when I was a younger kid coming up and Clockwork Orange of course ─ he was that connective tissue. I am such a huge fan of all of the kind of ─ Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole; that school of great English actors. Malcolm is this piece of connective tissue historically that was connected. He never tired, and he was so generous, telling me anything that I needed to know about anything. Malcolm is a great guy.
What discussions did you and Kurt have about your character?
What was interesting was we had conversations about it, and I think philosophically about who he is was determined by Kurt, and actually kind of touched upon a long time ago when we first discussed it. What took me by surprise, because I wasn’t around for the kinds of bits and pieces leading up to it, was how he’s introduced through the death of the sister.
What I love about the show, in a weird way, too, is that a lot of people have come in to their world from my world even though I’m not maybe active law enforcement anymore. When they have the old ATF investigation and stuff is that people come in because their job is to go after different organized criminal groups. It’s just their job. We’re doing it in this town in Northern California. We might be doing it South Carolina next. It’s kind of like a competitive sport.
I even remember years ago talking to Kurt about that, and there’s almost kind of a respect, too, in this regard. Your job is to be the cop, and my job is to be the robber. In this case, this guy is coming into their world like The Outlaw Josey Wales. He is motivated by perhaps the basic and most primal of human ─ look, I got a big kick, a big jumpstart on everything in my world with them because of just straight-up vengeance. Charles Bronson-style you murdered my sister.
In your initial meeting with Tara, do you think he had already made up his mind about her?
I think that he’s the kind of guy, when I ask you a question I’m not asking you to discover something; I just want to know if you’re lying to me or not. I’m asking you a question, I know the answer, so just think carefully on what you’re going to tell me because a lot is going to be determined by how you answer this. Don’t think I need to know this information. I like the way he doled it out, and I like the way that she picked, and it was such subtle stuff.
Peter Weller is really good. It’s like at first it’s very human, because it’s true. I’m this guy and that’s my sister and you were there, and I have questions that need to be answered. She goes into ─ and it was shocking for her as well. She says, “Please sit down.” The guy just stands up and moves closer. The way I feel about it is, especially with ‘Tara,’ and this is just me as a fan of the show having watched it and the progression, she’s come into this world from another world, and she’s discovered that she has kind of an acumen. She has kind of the backbone and strength to do things that she probably didn’t think she was capable of before.
From my perspective, when I watch her squirm a little bit because I drop little bits of information like; he was your patient, this was the third time. Then as soon as she knows that I have that specific knowledge, she is like, “Who are you?” I know more then. It was time to kind of drill, it’s time to go in there and go, “Look, I know what’s up. I know she brought the thing, and I know that she came back the same day.”
If you want to play this game, this guy ‘Lee Toric,’ this is a game I’ve been playing for 30 years with Mexican drug cartels, with mobs. I’ve been down this road. You think you’re good at this? This is what I do. That’s what I like about this character, and in a weird way the fans’ reactions because I think that Kurt really came up with someone who, in a weird way, he comes from ─ it feels like a weightier threat in a weird way.
He’s coming from such a different world and he’s so powerfully motivated with revenge. He’s so mysterious. Even the popes of the world, who were very scary and powerful guys, you know that they are based out of … . You know where they are, you kind of know how to ─ I don’t know, this guy is kind of coming in from a satellite in outer space, and is very rogue, and like a lone assassin. I think that I like the foreboding that surrounds ‘Lee Toric.’ He knew what was up. He just asked her to confirm stuff.
You also did the X-FILES?
Is that twenty-two years ago, twenty-one or more? I worked on The X Files before it came out, before it aired on television. It was just ─ how wild was it to be around when I look back. Gillian [Anderson] and David [Duchovny] are both really good people, and I think Chris Carter is a really nice guy. It was so fun to be on something where people didn’t really know, they were just making this show, they didn’t know what a phenomenon it would become.
The X Files, I think a few years later I was in a pretty remote place in the South Pacific like an island near Fiji, and people were like X Files … . I was like, oh my God, the reach of this show is so bizarre, and people are so into it. It was fun to have kind of been around that before it became what it became.
Is there a role you haven’t played yet that you’d like too or are you already doing that?
I’d have to say that this last run of the last few months, I jumped on Sons of Anarchy, and I kind of saw it to the conclusion of the season. There are some heavy duty question marks about what’s up for next season.
I jumped in on this show about the Vikings that Michael Hirst wrote, who I’d always been a huge fan of. He wrote Elizabeth, and wrote The Tudors, and The Borgias, and stuff like that. I went to Ireland to film in Ireland, and I played this king. I play this guy named King Horik, who is an actual historical king of the Vikings. When the Vikings first started doing their raids outside of what is Scandinavia, when they started going to England and terrorizing the hell out of everybody.
In between these two parts, and it’s not big stuff, and you’re not in every scene, but there was something really ─ doing ‘Lee Toric’ into…was probably my favorite. The last few months have been my favorite kind of months as an actor.
I would say that Terriers ─ I feel like if someone had to say what do you do? How would you describe your work or your style? I would say watch the whole season of Terriers, and if you think it’s good, that’s great. If you don’t like it, I respect that. That’s kind of what I do.
I’ve been having fun, and then I’m doing this kind of weird ─ I’m specking out. I have this little thing going with bad robots because I’m friends with J.J. Abrams. I’m doing this thing that could be kind of interesting. It’s really experimental.
I’m just kind of having fun as an actor right now. What I do miss, and this sounds so bogus, but I would love to, at some point maybe when my kids are in college, just go do a whole season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival or something, and do a year of plays. Just do stage work. I think that most actors miss that, the days of live theater. My buddy is the artistic director up there, a guy named Bill Rauch. That would be fun.
Do you get nervous on the set?
It was so funny because someone asked me about that. I just feel like ─ I remember I was playing in this, there was…, but I played on this soccer team called Hollywood United. There’s a lot of old ex-international pro-players and stuff, and we played this benefit match before…played at the Rose Bowl. The crowd had streamed in for the big match. It’s so nerve-racking to go out into a stadium, and you just feel a billion eyes upon you when you mess up your touches just because it’s an overwhelming environment. I was talking to one of those guys about it and they were like, “Oh, yes, but it’s thrilling.” They’re used to it.
A college football star, by his senior year, he’s used to running out there with 110,000 people going nuts, and they feel comfortable in that environment. That feels homely to them. To me, a set feels like that. The one thing that I do know is that, as long as I’m prepared, I know this environment. I know this world. I think nerves show that you care a little bit. The game is never to let them overwhelm you to where you can’t operate because the whole thing is to kind of breathe and to listen.
I think that especially, and you were on the Terrier set and you would feel this way about Sons of Anarchy, it’s not a kind of a place where people are ─ it’s not the kind of environment that’s making people feel bad if they mess up. It’s kind of a welcoming, warm environment, which is what you try to create. It doesn’t help anybody, and it works that way a lot.
They say you can judge a country by the way it treats its prisoners or whatever. You can always kind of judge a show by the way it treats people coming on doing these guest shots, and sometimes they are very tricky things in the middle of a thing where people have been running really hard, and they’re in their groove. I have seen a couple of environments where it’s not very friendly to guys coming in. Just think of how this person must feel coming into this world.
I just love it when people are ─ I loved it when I was coming up when people were welcoming to me so I didn’t feel that pressure of not being the kind of new guy screwing up. I love the opportunity to play it that way now that I have more experience. I get nervous, but it’s been my sport for a long time. I feel comfortable in that environment.
Advice for budding actors?
Do plays and do it. It really does boggle the mind when people ─ when they think of acting as something other than a craft that you need to continue to do always. It’s a kind of growing, organic skill. I always thought, and I had an argument with a friend of mine who is kind of into it, but doesn’t really ─ a lot of people are like how do I get on a T.V. show, and make money or whatever.
I was like, dude, you are a guy who has the coolest leather jacket and jeans, and a really old Gibson Les Paul, and a cool haircut. And you’re like, okay, I want to be the lead guitar player in a famous rock band touring the country making lots of money. Okay, can you play guitar? No, but look at me. Do you know scales? Do you know chords? No, check me out. A lot of people feel that way about acting. You’ve got to pretend like you’re a guitar player, man, and you’ve got to know scales and ─ you can’t just look cool and do it. It’s about ─ and also, you deny yourself the joy of ─
When I started acting when I was in college, there was no theater department at Harvard. I went as this kind of do-gooder student government type who wanted to go into international relations and a quasi-academic kid. I got into acting, and there were so many people there doing plays in their dorm rooms and basements. It was a school full of people, at least they were type-A, and were getting stuff done and trying stuff. They were really self-motivated.
When I get into that scene, I really do feel like if you want to do it you can do it anytime, anywhere. Especially now. Today, actually, I’m going down to Santa Monica to just be a homeless guy, and run around, and do some really weird experimental film thing with some friends of mine. It feels like the joy of college again in a weird way.
If you’re an actor, you need to get involved. Even if you get five cool friends together. People will go, “Well, I can’t get into those fancy schools.” Or, “I can’t join, it’s expensive.” It doesn’t take anything to find five or six cool people, and go choose a play, and put it up in someone’s back yard if you have too. Learn how to act, and show a passion for it. You can’t tell people how you are going to get an agent and all this kind of stuff. Your chances increase if you’re working and people see you doing something interesting. That’s the million-dollar question for all of us starting out, and they’re two different things.
People get bad professional advice. I don’t think that they should go to all these ─ there are all these schools in different little cities that say this guy is good because he has deep Hollywood connections. None of that stuff is really necessarily true, and it doesn’t really help. The thing that will help you the most is to have a passion for it, and to actually engage in it. Whether you’re a kid coming up in Portland, Oregon and you’re doing plays, or you’re thinking about moving to New York, or you want to go study. I know Michael Raymond-James was a member of the Actors’ Studio. I think those kinds of things ─ because those guys ─ a lot of people are big stars or whatever and they go back on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and they work out scenes with other people just to keep the ─ like athletes ─ just to keep the machine sharp.
I know that that’s not the best, people don’t really want to hear the advice. I started truck driving a couple of years ago, and I went to truck driving college. I got my license, and we started this little trucking company. Trucking is one of those things that I guess I’m licensed to do, I am licensed to do, and I have done. Compared to ─ I’ll tell you in a truck stop, and my partner, this guy named Bud Williams, he’s been driving big rigs since he was eight, and the difference in skill between me and him is like the difference between five and ninety-nine on a scale from one to one-hundred.
That is just because this guy has been doing it forever and loves it. You need to treat acting, you can’t think of acting as being something about looking cool and feeling inspired. It’s about doing it, if that makes any sense.
And it does, Logue will be an interesting character to watch as we come closer to the season finale of SONS OF ANARCHY on FX!