Donal Logue and Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter had talked for a few years about Logue guesting on the show, but the timing never worked. And Logue’s happy about that now, because he loves the role he ended up with: Artaud-reading former U.S. Marshal Lee Toric, the brother of the nurse (Logue’s real-life sibling Karina Logue) that Otto (Sutter) killed in prison.
On a conference call with reporters today, Logue explained his take on the character and the meaning behind his book choice in last night’s episode, and teased that next week’s season finale may not be the last we see of him: “I think it’s fair to say that whatever he’s got to do might take a while to do,” he said. “I think Lee Toric is a pretty significant threat to these guys, and I’m implying that it could go somewhere deeper and further.”
• On what makes Toric a different kind of foe for SAMCRO: “A lot of people have come into their world from my world — even though I’m not active law enforcement anymore — 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 in South Carolina next. And it’s kind of like a competitive sport. I remember years ago talking to Kurt about that. There’s almost a respect, too, in this regard: Your job is to be the cop, my job is to be the robber. But in this case, this guy’s coming into their world like Outlaw Josey Wales…. It feels like a weightier threat because he comes from such a different world, and he’s so powerfully motivated with revenge and he’s so mysterious. Even the Popes in the world, who are very scary and powerful guys, you know they’re based out of Oakland, you know where they are. This guy’s kinda coming in from a satellite in outer space and is very rogue and like a lone assassin.
• On the significance of Toric reading Watchfiends & Rack Screams, a collection of works by Antonin Artaud: “Artaud was this French writer who spent a lot of time in mental institutions. He walked that thin line — he was a genius, and he was mentally ill, probably…. He thought that art’s duty was to be as real as life, to be shocking and brutal, and to hit you in your face so hard that it broke the kind of comfortable veneer with which you perceive reality. … The way I saw it, in terms of Lee Toric, is that Artaud would basically say, ‘Okay, you kind of like violence, you like war. Let me take you down to the morgue and just shove your face into a dead body, just so you can see. Now, do you like what this is?’ ‘Cause he feels like society is always like, ‘I think we should go and do this!’ But no one’s looking at the bodies on the floor, no one’s standing there, no one’s getting their face shoved in it. And he said the only way that people can come around and see things and have a correct perception for how they should really be is if that happens to them through art or through life. On one level, that’s what Sons is kind of about. On the other level, I think Lee Toric feels like he chose — probably almost 30 years ago when he went into the military — that he was gonna take on the bad guys…. He fought crime. He was involved in some high-level, big, intense, dark stuff when he was a U.S. Marshal. And I think his thing is, I dip into all these worlds where people can say, ‘In the cartel world, in the motorcycle club world, stuff happens. People get killed. You know the rules.’ And it’s kind of, like, amoral in this way. To make you see what’s right and wrong, I’m gonna come at you 10 times heavier. I think that 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.”
• On Toric’s background: “Toric is a Harvard-educated special forces guy who was a rogue-ish U.S. Marshal… In the scene with Tara, where she’s tough and she’s been playing this game for years; he’s been playing this game for decades. And it’s like, “I think you’ve seen some stuff. I’ve seen bodies hanging from bridges. This is the world I’ve come from, and I’ve been doing it for a long time. So go plot, go spin, go try and figure out what I’m up to. But I’m five steps ahead of you.”
• On whether Toric is crazy, in light of us seeing those pill bottles in his hotel room: “I don’t know the full story. He might be dealing with some kind of pain. I don’t think he’s crazy. I had this interesting conversation with David E. Kelley years ago, when I was on The Practice for a little bit. [My character] was mad at their law firm because I was an assistant district attorney and this guy that we’d been chasing for a long time, that had $300,000 worth of cocaine on him, was basically successfully defended by their law firm and sent back into public. And everybody kept referring to my character as “The D-ck” because it was my name [ADA Richard ‘Dickie’ Flood], but it was a joke that I’m a d-ck. And I’m like, hold on. … ‘I’m just somebody who’s trying to keep cocaine off the streets. Why am I the a–hole? I get it, you’re slimy, good defense lawyers — the country needs it, and I respect it.’ [But just like on SOA], I’m not a jerk for being intense about someone smuggling a murder weapon in to kill my sister. I would probably be a jerk if I was nonplussed about it. It’s Outlaw Josey Wales-style. It’s like, you picked the wrong person. You just weren’t aware of who you messed with. If you mess with someone, you’re always taking that risk that they have a family and they have people who are vengefully minded. My character’s are always utterly sympathetic to me.”
• On the cast’s reaction to his character’s introduction at the read-through: “At the end, they’re just reading the narrative, that Tara walks down the hall, and then this Lee Toric guy gets up and starts following her and the kids. I just remember all the guys who were sittin’ at one table all look up like, ‘What? You’re goin’ after the kids?’ [Laughs] They’re deeply involved in and invested in the stuff that’s happening in the show.”
• On fans searching online for his character’s identity after that mysterious first appearance: “There are many gifts to one-hour television, but I always feel the coolest thing about it is, like, the way Dickens used to write and it would come out in installments — every month these bits of David Copperfield or Oliver Twist or whatever. People will finish, and they’ll get a kind of depression because they can’t wait to get that next bit of information because they’re so into it. And that’s kind of like the serialized nature of Sons of Anarchy. I love that people were hitting me up, even out in public, like,’What are you up to? Are you tryin’ to kill the kids?’ I thought, man, it’s kinda cool to be involved in something that has that level of passion and interest.”
For more on Sons of Anarchy, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now. For an exclusive video of Charlie Hunnam shooting his EW cover and talking about his inspiration for Jax Teller, visit EW’s Facebook page. Check out our gallery of nine pics of Hunnam from the shoot. And to learn why Hunnam stopped talking to Ron Perlman this season, click here!