Sons of Anarchy returns tonight with its fifth season, and I’ve been humming the theme song in my head all damn day. (Fact #21 on this list: “This Life” was co-written by Kurt Sutter, along with Curtis Stigers, who performs the song. It received an Emmy nod for best theme song in 1999). Kurt Sutter created a hell of a mess in the fourth season, but managed to clean it up way too tidy in the season finale. However, I expect the repercussions of that clean-up will echo throughout the entire fifth season, which sees the introduction of characters played by Joel McHale and Jimmy Smits, as well as the returning regular cast (not so fast, Piney). Most of the cast has been around for years, if not decades, as veteran character actors, and it’s great to see many of them finally get their due, becoming recognizable actors for the first time with Sons of Anarchy.
I spent a few hours doing some research, and to get you stoked for tonight’s premiere, here are 20 Things About the Cast of Sons of Anarchy That You Didn’t Know. Whatever you do, stick around for #16. It’s my favorite, although #5 might be slightly traumatizing.
1. Charlie Hunnam — Hunnam met his wife, Katherine Towne (Sunday in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when the two auditioned for Dawson’s Creek in 1999 (they divorced in 2002).
2. Hunnam, as most recall, played Lloyd, the British roommate in Judd Apatow’s Undeclared. If you didn’t see Undeclared, images from the show may look shocking to you. If you have seen Undeclared, it probably took quite some time to get used to Lloyd as a motorcycle gang member.
3. Hunnam is British, although in the few interviews I’ve seen him in, his British accent isn’t very British-y. Ironically, his cockney accent in Green Street Hooligans was recognized by many critics as one of the worst accents in the history of film. They weren’t wrong.
4. Despite the Green Street Hooligans accent, it was that part that attracted the attention of Kurt Sutter, who cast him in Sons of Anarchy. As bad as it was, however, it wasn’t as bad as his Southern accent in Cold Mountain.
5. Here’s your Sons of Anarchy and Game of Thrones/The Wire connection: Hunnam’s first major role was in the British version of Queer as Folk, where he and Aiden Gillan (Lord Petyr Baelish/Littlefinger in Game of Thrones and Carcetti in The Wire) enjoyed having rough sex together. Warning: REALLY weird imagery if you’re only used to seeing Hunnam as Jax Teller.
6. Ron Perlman has been around for decades, mostly doing low-rent genre television and a ton of voice work in television cartoons and movies. Most of us of a certain age probably first remember him from the television series, Beauty and the Beast, opposite Linda Hamilton. I was young enough that images from that show still feel a little traumatizing.
7. It was the friendship Perlman developed with Guillermo del Toro in Cronos that would later land him the role that most of us knew him for before Sons of Anarchy: Hellboy. The studio wanted a more bankable star (specifically, Vin Diesel), but del Toro insisted on Perlman.
8. See that woman on the left, standing next to Jeffrey Tambor in Hellboy? That’s Perlman’s daughter, Blake, with his wife of 32 years, Opal.
9. Most people know that Katey Sagal is married to Sons of Anarchy showrunner, Kurt Sutter, but back when Sagal was 18 and a struggling waitress, she used to bang Gene Simmons, from KISS.
10. In fact, dating Gene Simmons led Sagal to her first career, as a backup singer to the likes of Bette Midler, Boy Dylan, and Oliva Newton John. Here she was back in the day:
11. Her singing led to her first television role in Mary Tyler Moore’s sitcom, Mary, where Sagal showed off her singing voice (at the 1:00 mark).
12. Here’s an eerie piece of trivia. Katey Sagal’s father was Boris Sagal, who worked with Vic Morrow in a 1962 television pilot, Combat!. Boris Sagal was killed on the production of a 1982 television film, World War III, when he was … basically ripped apart by a helicopter rotor. The very next year, the same thing would happen to Vic Morrow on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie.
13. No matter how many times I see it, I will never not get a kick out of seeing a young Ryan Hurst (Opie) in Remember the Titans.
14. You know what’s even better? A young Ryan Hurst in Saved by the Bell: The New Class.
15. I wonder how Ryan Hurst’s wife, Molly Cookson, feels about having married this guy:
Having to come home to this guy:
16. This is going to blow your mind: Mark Boone Junior (Bobby Munson) started out in the business as a stand-up comedian with his close friend, Steve Buscemi.
Here’s one of their early routines:
17. Tommy Flanagan, who plays Chibs, was a DJ in Ireland back in the day. After a gig as DJ, he was knifed in the face by thugs, which is why he has the distinctive scar on his face. The scar has served him well, probably most notably from his role in Braveheart.
18. How many people remember Johnny Lewis — who played Half Sack — out of context as a recurring character, Chili, in The O.C.?
19. Winter Ave Zoli, who plays Opie’s wife, Lyla, has posed for Playboy. I won’t provide one here, but it’s not hard to find NSFW images of her from the Playboy spread on the Internet.
20. Nicholas Guest, the guy who provides the voice of Jax’s father, John Teller, in voice-over, looks like this in real life: