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'Sons of Anarchy' Cast Promises the Most 'Sad,' 'Violent' Season Yet

"Honestly, it's tough," says Kim Coates of filming the FX drama.

Sons of Anarchy Season 6 Promo Screengrab - H 2013

Strap on those helmets, Sons of Anarchy fans. The cast of FX's hit biker drama promises season six to be the most "violent" and "sad" in the series' history.

"This is the second to last season, it's all guns-a-blazin', no pun intended," Kim Coates tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Get ready, because there's no pulled punches. It is flat-out, 100 percent sad this year."

The actor, who plays Tig, says that his personal anti-violence stance makes filming the show difficult at times. "Honestly, it's tough. It's tough shit," he says. "It's not even that we're doing a lot of violent stuff, it's just that it's coming to an end. You know characters will die, you know they'll be gone forever, and [Sons] is a big hit. It's a big hit all over the world."

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And while viewers caught a bit of Tig's sweet side with Bonnie, his beloved pitbull, last season, the actor jokes that the canine is "asking for too much money this year. " Tig, meanwhile, will be "more on the leash" this season. "Last year I was a renegade -- gone, whack -- my daughter dies in the first episode," he says. "Tig was just lost the whole season. This year, I'm much more on Jax's leash."

With Tuesday's premiere picking up right where last season's finale left off, with Tara (Maggie Siff) and Clay (Ron Perlman) both jail-bound, Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is forced to put his own issues on the backburner and focus on freeing his wife. "I think at the end of last season, [Jax] felt as though he'd really let himself and the club down," says Hunnam. "[He] hadn't risen to the challenge of being president in the way that he thought he would, so there's kind of resolute Jax in the beginning of this season where he's really determined to have a reckoning for his bad behavior and do an about-turn, and stop going down the dark path he was going down and repeating some of Clay's mistakes.

"He's so distracted by that mission that what's going on at home, I don't think he's quite as aware of it as he should be," he says of last season. "When it finally comes to light, it really blindsides Jax. He's not cognizant of it in the beginning because he's so embroiled in his own drama."

Perlman jokes that Clay will become an incarcerated Top Chef contestant in the coming season, and later suggests that "everyone dies but Happy (David Labrava)."

On a more serious note, the actor explains that "the sands are shifting under our feet."

"We've lost the president, we have a new president, everybody's in positions that they're rather uncomfortable in because they've never done them before," he says. "It's a season of unrest and transition because I think we're winding our way towards the end."

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It's a common sentiment among Kurt Sutter's cast, with the sixth being dubbed the series' penultimate season. The stars promise that storylines will begin to wrap up ahead of the drama's seventh -- and final -- season.

"It's all a personal journey now," says Peter Weller, who has directed several episodes of the series and acts in Tuesday's premiere. "The mission of communal glory and vengeance and territory that was so prevalent in The Iliad, now it's about finding your own safety and sanctuary at any cost. It's very emotional."

Among the episodes Weller directed this season is episode eight, which will feature a jaw-dropping car stunt that left the cast and crew worried for one stuntman's life.

"It was so real, they thought the guy was dead," says Weller's wife, Shari Stowe Weller. "He was just acting," adds Weller. "I had to be told that. I was like 'Oh my God, he's just lying there.' The script supervisor says, 'I think something's really wrong,' and one of the grips said, 'He's acting. He's supposed to lie there, right?'" (Indeed, the stuntman was just fine.)

Theo Rossi, the actor behind Juice, also has to pay for his own sins in the season premiere, facing off with Tommy Flanagan's Chibs in an effort to right his wrongs.

"It's a very smart season and it's a very fan oriented season," says Rossi. "We really get into the mythology and all this stuff that's going down, and we answer a lot of questions."

Describing the season overall as "cerebral" and "meticulous," Rossi praises showrunner Sutter's ability to consistently bring the unexpected. "I think what Kurt does so great is everything you think is going to happen doesn't," he says. "We start going in different ways and it's surprising. It's a very surprising season right out the gate."

As for his favorite moment to watch for, Rossi promises that episode six will be a doozy.

"You'll see," he says with a grin.

LaMonica Garrett, who plays Deputy Sheriff Cane, urges fans to watch Tuesday's season opener with a buddy.

"You gotta watch it with people. You don't want to be watching this one alone," he says. "It's the most dangerous season -- saying that about Sons is like, 'Really? All the other season's are dangerous' -- but take last year's first episode with Tig's daughter and this takes it to the next level. Like, two levels above that. Anxiety through the roof, jaws on the ground."

But it's not all doom and gloom for the SOA cast. McNally Sagal, for one, is having a blast on the set. "I'm having a whole lot of fun," says the actress, who plays Tara's boss Margaret on the show. "Especially to be my age and to be punching people in the face is seriously fun, and to be strangled left and right and to survive is not my normal life. It's fantasy and it's fun."

The actress, whose sister-in-law is Sutter's wife -- and the force behind alpha-mom Gemma -- Katey Sagal, says that being choked out by a family member has been one of her favorite on-camera moments.

"She strangled me within an inch of my life, threw me against a vending machine and told everyone: 'That's my sister-in-law and we're gonna have a good Thanksgiving.'"

Sons of Anarchy season six debuts Tuesday at 10 p.m. on FX.

Email: Sophie.Schillaci@THR.com
Twitter: @SophieSchillaci