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Kurt Sutter Biography

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Birth Name: Kurt Sutter

Sutter grew up near Rahway State Prison in Rahway, N.J. Not particularly well-read early in life, Sutter spent a great deal of his youth planted in front of a television set - a valuable education where he learned the essence of storytelling and comedy. Sutter later attended Rutgers University, where he earned his bachelor's in film, then spent six years trying to make it as an actor in New York. After performing in various off-off-Broadway venues, he moved to Los Angeles, where he began teaching and directing theater. A few years later, Sutter returned to New York to teach the Sanford Meisner Technique at the Gately-Poole Acting Studio, while continuing to direct plays at the Nat Horne Theatre. In 1995, he earned his Master of Fine Arts from Northern Illinois University, which prompted him to move back to Los Angeles, where he wrote and sold his first screenplay, "Delivering Gen," a crime drama about a young man mixed up with a Parisian mob crew who escapes to America in an attempt to have a normal life.

Because of the screenplay sale, Sutter was tapped by writer and executive producer Shawn Ryan to write for "The Shield" (FX, 2002-08), a violent, in-your-face cop drama inspired by the infamous Rampart Division scandal in Los Angeles that focused on Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), the morally conflicted leader of an anti-gang unit who runs roughshod over ethical and legal roadblocks while combating crime in a rough section of East L.A. Mackey heads the fictional Farmington division Strike Team, which includes his reckless best friend and former partner (Walton Goggins), a conscious-ridden detective (Kenny Johnson), and a quiet, but loyal surveillance and electronics expert (David Rees Snell). Sutter started the show as a staff writer and quickly moved up the ranks to become Ryan's right-hand. In fact, Sutter was proudly credited by cast and crew for some of the series' more depraved moments, like when the precinct's Captain Aceveda (Benito Martinez) was raped at gunpoint or the low-rent porn producer who prefers to make videos with grandmothers desperate for cash. Sutter also guest-starred as Margos Dezerian, an Armenian hit man fond of chopping off his victim's feet. Sutter's first episode as Margos - "Blowback" - in season one was widely considered to be the first true episode of "The Shield," because of its exclusive focus on the Strike Team.

After seven seasons, executive producer Shawn Ryan finally decided to end the series, but that allowed Sutter to branch out into features and creating his own series. He was one of several writers to churn out drafts for "The Punisher: War Zone" (2008), the sequel to the 2004 adaptation of the Marvel Comics series about Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson), a former Marine-turned-vigilante who uses any means necessary - killing, torture, kidnapping - to wage war against society's criminal elements. In the second film, the Punisher takes on an overreaching New York mob boss (Dominic West) who becomes horribly disfigured and returns to seek vengeance as Jigsaw.

Meanwhile, Sutter returned to his bread and butter - television - with "Sons of Anarchy" (FX, 2008- ), an allegorical take on The Bard's "Hamlet" that focused on a biker gang that runs a small Northern California town like the Mafia. The series centered around Jackson "Jax" Teller (Charlie Hunman), the young heir apparent to the biker club who begins to doubt their direction after discovering a journal written by his father before his death. Jax struggles to reconcile the club's actions, which are headed by his stepfather (Ron Perlman), while dealing with his manipulative mother - played by Sutter's off-screen wife, Katey Segal - and his junkie ex-wife (Drea de Matteo).