In anticipation of the Dec. 4 finale of Sons of Anarchy, EW asked star Ron Perlman to reflect on Clay Morrow’s journey since the FX series began, the drama’s success and what’s in store for his tragic character in the fifth season ender.
“Clay Morrow has been one of the more challenging roles I’ve had in my career even though he wears no makeup, that he’s not an abstract creation like a lot of the ones I’ve played, like the beast in Hellboy and the hunchback in Name of the Rose. Clay Morrow was probably more foreign to me in terms of his world view and his self assuredness, so he’s been challenging. He has no sense of humor about himself. That’s a really big difference. He always knows the right path. He always knows that he’s right. There’s no self-doubt. There’s no kind of self-effacing view.
“I’ve really had to dig deep into myself to figure out how to act that, and it’s been a challenge. Part of the reason why it’s such a pleasure is No. 1, the way the public has taken to the show. They’ve supported it a long time. And No. 2, the brilliance of Kurt Sutter and how he is the best at moving forward, never standing still, never going backward to the point where we’re always uncomfortable with where we’re going because there’s nothing we’ve never done that indicates where we are now. I don’t think Kurt gets enough credit for the fact that he assembled this particular band of ne’r-do-wells who people the world of Sons of Anarchy. They’re never going to lose the fact they’re working class guys. I really love working with them because there is no pretense, no bullsh–, no ego.They are just a bunch of guys coming from a kind of working-class point of view, who are as much in awe of the success the show has engendered as anybody. We’re all kind of knock-around guys that mostly have failed, so to be involved in something successful is a little bit jarring and a little bit surprising.
“In season 5, it’s probably the clearest we’ve ever seen Clay’s devotions to Gemma. If you recall, she does try to shoot him in the head. She misses. So if that ain’t gonna get you mad enough to slug somebody, I don’t know what is. In other words, you could make a case for the fact that she had it coming. I’m not saying she had it coming. I’m just saying she did take a gun and shoot at his head, and because she’s a piece of sh– shot, she missed. [Perlman laughs].
“Now he’s in danger of losing her, or he has lost her, and he’s desperately trying to figure out of all the things he lost, what’s most important to get back? And the conclusion he comes to in season five is Gemma. There’s something incredibly noble about the purity of Clay’s love for Gemma in season 5, which enables me to kind of justify all the other stuff that I do in my obsessive need to win that back. Where it ends up at the end of the season is very dark and very sad, and I won’t go into it, but it was profoundly painful.”