BLAZ­ING A TRAIL

Get your mo­tor run­ning and head out on the high­way with the Sons of An­ar­chy. Guy Davis was priv­iliged – and a lit­tle bit fright­ened – to get spe­cial ac­cess to Ron Perl­man’s new club.

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CAST Ron Perl­man, Char­lie Hun­nam, Katey Sa­gal, Kim Coates, Mag­gie Siff SUM­MARY Hell­boy Hell­boy’s de­mon Ron Perl­man Ron Perl­man is is en­joy­ing en­joy­ing ex­plor­ing ex­plor­ing a diff an­other er­ent un­der­world with Sons of An­ar­chy – the a new new pay-payTV drama TV looking drama at looking the bikie-at gang the bikie-sub­cul­ture. gang

It’s per­fect cast­ing, re­ally. I mean, if you were looking for some­one to play the ruth­less, no-non­sense leader of a mo­tor­cy­cle gang, im­pos­ing char­ac­ter ac­tor Ron Perl­man would have to pretty high on your list.

First of all, the star of the Hell­boy movies ( and the short-lived but much-loved TV se­ries Beauty and the Beast) just looks like the kind of guy who could take apart an ad­ver­sary without break­ing a sweat.

And when he speaks, his rum­bling growl has a tinge of men­ace to it.

But ap­pear­ances can be de­ceiv­ing. Sure, Perl­man looks and sounds tough – and he most likely is – but there’s also a soul­ful qual­ity to his act­ing that lends depth and di­men­sion to his char­ac­ters, even gun- run­ning bikies like Clay Mor­row, the gang leader he plays in the new pay-TV se­ries Sons of An­ar­chy.

Cre­ated by Kurt Sut­ter, an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer on the gritty po­lice drama The Shield, the se­ries fol­lows the ex­ploits of the Sons of An­ar­chy, a Cal­i­for­nia mo­tor­cy­cle club that op­er­ates out­side the law and lives by its own rules.

But times are chang­ing for the gang, with ri­val outfi ts muscling in on its ter­ri­tory and the law crack­ing down.

What’s more, Jax ( Char­lie Hun­nam), the sec­ond-in-com­mand and the son of the gang’s late founder, has started to un­cover some long-hid­den se­crets about the Sons of An­ar­chy’s his­tory.

With the sec­ond Hell­boy movie hav­ing per­formed well at the box offi ce and sev­eral movie off ers on the ta­ble, Perl­man wasn’t re­ally con­sid­er­ing a tele­vi­sion project when Sut­ter ap­proached him about play­ing Clay.

But he had “ an in­or­di­nate amount of re­spect” for The Shield so he agreed to meet Sut­ter, lis­ten to some ideas and read a script.

“ There was no re­fus­ing it af­ter that,” said Perl­man. “ I went in­stantly to ‘ Who have I got to kill to play this guy?’”

Luck­ily, no homi­cide was nec­es­sary as Perl­man joined his fel­low cast mem­bers in get­ting a crash course in the bikie-gang sub­cul­ture.

The ac­tor ad­mits to hav­ing “ a oned­i­men­sional view” of mo­tor­cy­cle clubs be­fore join­ing Sons of An­ar­chy, only to change his mind in the process.

From the dis­re­gard that greeted many bikies when they re­turned home from fi ght­ing in the Viet­nam War, to the ex­tremely or­gan­ised hi­er­ar­chy of a typ­i­cal gang’s struc­ture, Perl­man was of­ten as­ton­ished by what he found out.

“ Be­ing thrust into this world and be­ing made to un­der­stand how well-ar­tic­u­lated it is when it comes to the tra­di­tions, the peck­ing or­der, the re­spect one has for the world one’s liv­ing in, the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties a mem­ber has when it comes to con­tribut­ing and car­ry­ing your weight, I’ve come to see it’s a real sub­cul­ture and it’s one they take very se­ri­ously, as well they should,” he said.

Sut­ter spent a great deal of time with the Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia chap­ter of the Hells Angels in an eff ort to bring as much au­then­tic­ity as pos­si­ble to Sons of An­ar­chy.

“ He ab­sorbed their rhythms and their val­ues and their jux­ta­po­si­tion with other things so­ci­etal be­cause he was des­per­ate to not just do a TV show but re­ally get it right,” said Perl­man.

And the Angels have re­sponded favourably, trav­el­ling to the set to pro­vide hands-on con­sul­ta­tion and ap­pear as ex­tras.

Clubs like the Sons of An­ar­chy an­swer to no one, ac­cord­ing to Perl­man.

“ Be­ing pres­i­dent of a club is tan­ta­mount to be­ing pres­i­dent of a sov­er­eign na­tion. So in that re­gard, my char­ac­ter Clay has a huge re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“ But there’s a vul­ner­a­bil­ity that comes into play be­cause he has this great loy­alty to the club and his fel­low club mem­bers. He has a weak spot for his boys.”

So does Perl­man, who ad­mits that “ I have never got­ten closer to a bunch of guys quicker than I have on this show”.

“ We spend 14 hours a day work­ing on this show to­gether and then ev­ery­body goes out for a beer af­ter­wards,” he said.

““ There’s not one per­son in this group of play­ers who sticks out be­cause he’s a diva or he’s got his Hol­ly­wood ego go­ing on – th­ese are great guys. No one takes them­selves se­ri­ously, every­one’s a de­gen­er­ate.”

Blaz­ing a trail: Ron Perl­man ( left) and his Sons of An­ar­chy mo­tor­cy­cle club ( inset).

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