Venus Van Dam (Justified‘s Walton Goggins) has become a dear friend to Tig (Kim Coates) on FX’s Sons of Anarchy, and their relationship took another step in the Sept. 30 episode. “He’s got that twisted, twisted deal in his head, but that’s pure care and love for her in that sort of protective way,” Coates says of the characters’ first kiss. Goggins tells EW about the emotional return—and teases Venus’ next appearance in the final season’s tenth episode.
EW: What kind of moments have Venus and Tig shared off-screen, in your mind, since we last saw them together at the bus stop?
Goggins: I think she’s really seen Tig quite a bit. I think it has been glasses of wine—a chardonnay or a rosé in the afternoon, with his bike kind of coming up. I think they have talked at length about their childhoods and what their respective lives are like now. I think they’ve talked about politics. I think they’ve talked about everything that two people would talk about to further their intimacy and a friendship.
It was all there with the two scenes that Kurt [Sutter] had written. It was two people who had spent enough time together off-screen in order to get to a place where Tig would ask for Venus when he’s hurt and he needed to be comforted, and Venus would come and tell him what she tells him. It’s not a gender thing, it’s a heart thing. When we’re understood, regardless of who we’re understood by, we’re understood. There’s no replacing that. It’s outside of the confines of gender.
Do a lot of Sons of Anarchy fans want to talk with you about Venus?
I’ve traveled extensively since doing Venus the first time, and I am amazed at the range of people that come up to me and want to have a conversation about her—from race to income to age. It’s a testament to how big the audience is for Sons of Anarchy, but also to what she’s done for opening that dialogue or allowing certain aspects of our society to understand that community a little better: to not be so scared of people that you really have no reason to be scared of—they’re just people. To find a place in your heart to accept them. That’s been the most rewarding thing of all of this.
That’s certainly not why Kurt wanted to do this, or why I wanted to do this. I wanted to challenge myself in somebody that I’ve dreamed of playing since this audition that I had in my early twenties, and Kurt thought it was perfect for his show. As all of these things happen, it was the chemistry between Venus and the guys. It came to a place of well, what can Venus say to the audience about the people on Sons of Anarchy, about Jax and about Gemma, about all the rest of the boys. Those things just happen naturally and organically, and people open up. You saw that with Gemma and how she first responded to her. By getting to know Venus, she opened up her heart to her. I think that’s just the world over, man. When you stop being fearful, then there’s really nothing to be afraid of. [Laughs] And then let’s move on to talk about s–t that really is important.
We know Venus returns in episode 10. What can you say about that?
There is a conversation that happens that is as poetic and—I will start crying talking about it right now—as beautiful and as real as any conversation that I’ve ever read on paper between two people. What it will ultimately say about Tig, and who he is in the world, and how he deals with Venus and how she deals with him—I think you’re gonna see honesty and a vulnerability that is very rarely explored….What did you think about the video of Venus with the gentleman? [Laughs]
What was that like to film?
It was a great scene. And Guy [Ferland, the episode’s director] just gave me the iPhone and said, “Okay, do it, and let’s see what you come up with.” We talked about the position, where she should be. He told me specifically what he wanted to see, and then we set about doing it in the room—me and this other really nice actor. [Laughs] We did like five or six takes. It was so much fun, it was fantastic.
Last question: As someone who’s had to say goodbye to a show, The Shield, and who’s heading into the final season of Justified, have you given any of the Sons guys advice?
You know what, I have. I had long conversations with those guys about it on the set one day. They’re all such pros, they’re gonna be fine. They’ve been working long before Sons of Anarchy came along and will be working long after. But I told them to really, really give yourself a lot of space because the transition from that life to the civilian life is very difficult, and it is a grieving that may not hit you for six months. When you no longer put on those cuts or ride that bike with your friends on that television show in that way, you will feel sadness that you know not. It took me a long time—it took me a year of feeling that. I wasn’t consumed by it, but it was always very, very close to my mind. But life goes on, man. On to the next adventure. We should all be so lucky.
For more on Sons of Anarchy—including the fate Hunnam predicts for Jax and what Sutter hopes to accomplish with the Dec. 9 finale’s final frame—check out this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday, Oct. 3.