In the second episode of the FX drama about outlaw bikers, former SOA cast member Michael Ornstein reprised his beloved role as Chucky Marstein, a felon-cum-bookkeeper who was a trusted friend to SAMCRO. EW caught up the actor to ask when and how he was first cast, and whether this is a one-time appearance on the SOA spin-off.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It was such a joy to see your face in the second episode!
MICHAEL ORNSTEIN: I’m so happy to be talking about this. So far I have not mentioned that I’m in this show to anyone, except my wife and my children and my manager. That’s it.
When did you shoot the scene?
I don’t even know. It’s been months. I’ve been just carrying this around, this amazing secret.
Tell me about the call. I’m assuming you heard from creator Kurt Sutter?
Yeah. I got a text from Kurt saying, “Are you still in L.A.?” I said, “Yes, we’re still here,” and that was it. Then I got the call, and I was just blown away. I was so happy. I showed up very early on my first day and went to the exterior of the Mayans’ clubhouse to hang out. I hung out there for like two hours all by myself, just to completely acclimate and soak it in until I felt that I was home. Then we did the reading, I met all the guys, and then showed up to this amazing scrapyard in East L.A. where we did that scene.
You didn’t happen to take your gloves with you after leaving Sons of Anarchy, did you? The ones with the fake fingers.
Yeah, I actually did. There were two. I had the pair that I wore, and then there was a secondary pair. Props still had that secondary pair, and I had the ones that I wore in the show. I brought them back. James, the prop guy, and Kurt tried to figure out what would have happened to those gloves in the period of time between shows. They worked out that since I work in a scrapyard, the gloves got damaged in some way, and so Chucky repaired them with metal. You’ll see these metal rings that are on the hands that are sort of a reparation of being ripped and this and that.
Yeah. He’s such an indelible character. Do people still approach you about it? What do they say?
We traveled to New Jersey yesterday and rented a car. We’re visiting family. The guy who rented the car, he’s looking at me and then he said, “I really loved your character. It helped me into the world of the club.” A lot of people had said that to me, that they related to Chucky. There was something about Chucky. I mean, he was a felon, yeah, but there was something about him that was sort of like a civilian inside that world, and people were able to relate to him, to kind of go into that world through him. Early on, I would be out eating a hamburger or something and I would see people staring at my fingers. A lot of people say, “Wow, you have fingers.” I hear that a lot. People are compassionate about Chucky.
He had compulsive masturbation disorder. I mean, certainly your fans don’t relate to that part, right?
Well, I mean, it’s indelible. Once you hear something like that about somebody, you can’t not think about it. Even if you know them for 75 years, that’s still the first thing you will probably think about when you look at them. I love that it was never sexual, that it was just a thing that Kurt actually made it up. These are very functional people, like businesspeople and people who are very functional in the world. They just have this thing. It’s a basic, animalistic thing.
Fans do love the character.
I definitely feel that with people. I mean, I’ve met thousands of SOA fans, thousands of people, and yeah, there’s always this warmth when people approach me. The thing about SOA fans, and I’m sure its going to be the same thing with the Mayans, is that you can’t really peg fans. There’s no one kind of person who digs SOA. From old women who have Reaper tattoos to old women who are just old women, people from all walks of life, from all different ethnicities, from everywhere. It’s just a wide-open spectrum of people, and they all approached me warmth.
Will we see you again on the show, or was that just the one time?
We’ll see, man. We have to see. When I first got the job on season 1 of SOA, I thought that was just a one-off. I had no idea. I was amazed and just absolutely thrilled that Chucky came back for season 2.