The sixth season of the hit FX biker series Sons of Anarchy is underway and once again fans are invited back into the crazy lives of Jax, Tara, Gemma and the rest of the SAMCRO world. Season 5 ended with Tara and Clay both heading off to jail and for the first time, we were left with serious doubts about the relationship between Tara and Jax.
Actress Maggie Siff who plays Tara Knowles sits down with TVWise to discuss the ramifications of Season 5 and what fans can expect with the upcoming explosive Season 6!
TVWise: When we last saw Tara at the end of Season 5, she was handcuffed in the back of a police car. How difficult was it to shoot that scene?
Maggie Siff: That was one of those scenes that you never know how exactly you are going to do it or how it’s going to come out or how it’s going to work. It was an interesting experience because Kurt Sutter was directing the finale, which he usually does, which is always great for us as actors because his vision is so complete. He’s such a great director. There was so little text and so little written on the page. It was such an epic scene. One moment she was telling Jax about her plan and the next minute her plan is gone and she was being taken to jail. You know her kids are there, so she’s going to go quietly. She’s walking past Jax who she is already being betrayed by. So, I was talking to Kurt and asking what is this? What is happening here? I don’t think I would make a big fuss or be overly dramatic. He said, as you are leaving, why don’t you just say, he’s crying or something like that and I said ok. That’s what the scene became about this juncture between the reality of what’s happening to your children in the next room and this breaking reality of this nightmare that is unfolding. It happened in this really organic and horrifying way. Very exciting as an actor to have moments like that where you get to work through something with a director and have moments of creativity and spontaneity as you are making it. In television you have such compressed schedules; you don’t always have that kind of creative experience.
TVWise: With a show like Sons of Anarchy, how much are you allowed to ad lib or do you have to stick strictly to the script?
Maggie Siff: We call it the book of words. We literally are not allowed to stray from it. There have been a lot of conversations between all of us over the years. There’s always a writer or executive producer on set with us who can field those kind of questions and if there are very subtle changes, often times that is fine. If there is a major rewrite and someone feels very strong about it, the protocol is when we get the script, write an email to Kurt or the writer whose episode it is and talk about it before we get to the day of shooting. If there continues to be a problem, then phone calls get made and everything else, but there is a very strict policy about sticking to the book of words.
TVWise: At the end of Season 5, Tara has a suspicion that Gemma is the reason she was arrested. They both have always had an up and down relationship. Do you think it will always be this way?
Maggie Siff: Yes I really do. Relationships between women are very emotional and relationships between mothers and daughters are often very hot and cold, often down and in and out. Full of resentment one minute and full of love the next minute. Gemma and Tara are the worst textbook example of that. I think it’s because on the one hand you have Gemma, the fierce mother figure who has so much violent passion for her children. Then you have Tara who is the quintessential orphan who doesn’t have parents. I think they are so extreme in those roles that it makes their relationship very fraught, interesting and exciting as well.
TVWise: The relationship between Tara and Jax over the years has been fascinating to watch. You both have been through so much, when is love not enough?
Maggie Siff: I think that is a lot of what Season 6 is about. I think going into this season, the way her world comes crashing down at the end of Season 5 and the way she feels betrayed by Jax and everything else that has happened, Season 6 opens up with her really at a point where I think she feels like love isn’t enough and now she needs to do what she needs to do to protect her children. That said, I think that one of the reasons why the show is so powerful is because the love between the characters is so deep and I don’t think it ever goes away. Even when Jax and Tara are betraying themselves and betraying each other, there is something about their history and the history of their connection and love that will never die. That will never change.
TVWise: Do you think former U.S. Marshall Lee Toric is going to be a huge problem for Tara and SAMCRO?
Maggie Siff: Donald Logue is so great and creepy in that role! He’s a really dangerous adversary for the club and Tara because he’s so tweaked and it’s so personal which I think is a pretty great and unusual enemy for the club to have. I think he’s going to prove to be a very big problem.
TVWise: Your character has definitely changed and grown over the past 5 seasons. As an actor, how is it playing a character like that?
Maggie Siff: It’s the amazing thing about doing a show like this that runs for years. You get to evolve a character through huge changes. Because this show is so dramatic and the things that happens to her in particular, Tara is where your dreams go to die. The thing that is interesting about it is that it really alters her psyche so she is changing in these incredibly deep down irreversible ways. That is so interesting to play as an actor. To keep discovering who this person is when this thing is taken away from her or that thing is taken away. For example, when she lost the use of her hand. I was like wow; this is how she knows herself as a surgeon and a healer. This is the thing that defines her and it was taken away from her. That totally changed her psyche from a deep down, inside place.
TVWise: In a recent interview, Kurt Sutter said that Season 6 would be a very violent one. Any concerns for Tara surviving the new season or any of the characters?
Maggie Siff: We are all concerned every week we get the scripts! I don’t think anybody has any delusions about their sense of mortality on the show Sons of Anarchy. It’s all pretty brutal. We just cross our fingers and hope for the best.
TVWise: Has there ever been a scene that was too much for you to watch?
Maggie Siff: Oh yea, one in particular was the Season 5 premiere episode were Pope set Tig’s daughter on fire. That was a tough one. A lot of them are like that, some I feel cross the lines more than others. Early on in the first season where they castrated a clown and I was like, OMG, I had just started working on the show. What have I gotten myself into? [LAUGHS] Burning the tattoo off the back of the former SAMCRO member was another one. The first season had a lot of surprises for me where I had to adjust my barometer. I think it took a little while for the show to find its tone and now I know there are certain episodes where I am going to have my eyes closed.
In the Season 6 premiere – for me – the school shooting was really, really difficult. As an actor on the show, I don’t have to deal with almost any of the stuff, but when I watch the show, oh my. I mean, sometimes I do, but for the most part, it’s the guys who are in the middle of these violent, horrific situations.
TVWise: With so much violence in Sons of Anarchy, it must be nice to have that comic relief that also exists in the series.
Maggie Siff: Oh yea. That’s the thing that is so fascinating about the show. It can be so dark and so brutal and then it can turn on itself and move into this really funny, dark and absurd humor. That’s the genius of Kurt Sutter. He found a way to marry these things and that was what I meant when I said it took a while for the show to find its tone because he is walking a tightrope. He does it really artfully and it holds together somehow miraculously and I think the humor is a big part of that and having the people that can deliver the humor is awesome. It’s interesting; it sort of pulls back the curtain on parts of our own selves. We can watch and take in this horrific stuff and then the next minute sort of turn and laugh at something else. The fact that those things can coexist with each other is very strange.
TVWise: What can you tell us about Season 6 and what are you most excited about?
Maggie Siff: I keep finding myself describing it as an animal that eats its young or an organism destroying itself from the inside out. This club that in spite of Jax’s best efforts to set things right, it just keeps tripping over itself and destroying itself. I feel like Season 6 is just more of that, more unraveling and more of how are these people going to hold it together. Every season Kurt keeps raising the bar and I don’t think this season is any exception.
TVWise: When the show is finally over, what do you think Tara’s idea of true happiness will be?
Maggie Siff: Well, it’s such a difficult question. I think her true happiness will involve Jax and Jax’s true happiness will involve the club. So therein lies the problem because I don’t think Jax is ever leaving the club and it really remains to be seen if the club can go straight enough to provide a safe enough and sane enough environment for Tara, which is what she really longs for when it comes to her and the kids. I guess in her ideal world it would involve Jax and none of the criminality. We’ll see…
New episodes of Sons of Anarchy continue on FX on Tuesday nights at 10pm EST.