It's not uncommon for fans to have harsh words for developments they dislike in the shows they love, but it's rare to hear scathing remarks from the actors. In a recent interview with my friend Fred Topel, Charlie Hunnam is not feeling the love for Sons of Anarchy.
While talking about his recent film The Ledge, the British actor was blunt about his feelings toward the FX motorcycle drama. "I think that he needs to assert himself and needs to control his psychotic mother who has no place trying to run a motorcycle club," he said. "If I was in charge of the writing, I would really, really pull back on that because that’s just a device that doesn’t ever ring true to me. So it’s very frustrating to me sometimes to be put in a position as an actor to have to play out scenes where I don’t believe the dynamic and I don’t believe that Jax would ever be taking orders from his mother, you know. So I hope that that is something that can be remedied a little bit."
Those are strong words. And while the last part certainly makes sense if you watch the show for more than five minutes, you have to wonder about the first part. Even taking into consideration the culture in question, the statement's a bit harsh.
It's also more than a bit ironic considering that Katey Sagal finally won a much-deserved Golden Globe Award for the role of Gemma Teller Morrow this year. Not to mention that Sagal is married to series creator Kurt Sutter, who is known for being fairly blunt himself; I can only wonder what his reaction is going to be to these comments.
Moving on, where does Hunnam see the series headed after this season's finale?
"I don’t think that the show can sustain us being in prison and obviously we got to prison and it’s been well established that we’re going for two years. So probably be out in 18 months and so I don’t think we can sustain 18 months worth of prison storylines. So I think they’ll probably pick us up as we get released from prison would be my guess."
That's a fair criticism. That, and we've also done a show about people in prison. It was called Prison Break. Some people say that didn't work too well beyond the first two years either.
But that's not the part that raises eyebrows. As a woman who has dealt with a fair amount of sexism because of my career choices, I have to say that Hunnam's quotes don't sit well with me personally; they come off as being potentially sexist, whether he means it that way or not. At least, the way he chose to phrase his thoughts makes it sound like the words are his personal opinion and not reflective of his character. Even if you give him a pass by saying that he's taking about his character's perception and not his own, he probably could have phrased that a little less strongly. I disagree with him, but that's as far as my dislike goes.
Regardless of whether one considers the quotes sexist or not, they've certainly ignited a firestorm on both sides. In the hours since this story broke, there have been less than flattering things said on both sides of the issue. I know someone who runs a fansite for Hunnam, who heard this news and informed me that she's already received death threats from people who disagree with his statements. Whatever your opinion is on what he said, I think we can all agree that insults and death threats are taking things just a little too far. The reaction is far worse than whatever you think he meant by the original quotes.
It's obvious at least that he's not happy about certain parts of the series, and now that his comments are public, I'm curious to see what the reaction from his colleagues will be.
To read the full interview (and to hear his words for yourself), check out the original piece at Screen Junkies.
UPDATE: Sutter has responded to the original story, both on Twitter and on his blog. Due to his heavy use of profanity, I can't repost most of what he has said, but the blog entry refers to Hunnam as a "consummate professional" who is "respectful of everyone's creative process." In my opinion, if he's not taking offense to what's been said about the writing, then that is a non-issue; if the person being talked about isn't offended by what's being said about them, we shouldn't be.
That's separate from whether or not you consider the first part of Hunnam's comments to be sexist, which is subjective.
UPDATE #2: Inquiries have been made as to the veracity of these statements, so the full audio of the interview has been posted in a follow-up article, which you can find here.
It's clear that whomever you believe (and even if you don't), the situation has now gotten far out of proportion to any offense anyone may have taken to Hunnam's original (and fairly innocuous) remarks.