'Sons of Anarchy': Ron Perlman on Clay's Big Reveal

"When we hit the reset button for Clay, there was a million different directions that his journey could have gone,” the actor tells THR.
Frank Ockenfels/FX

On Tuesday’s episode of Sons of Anarchy, we finally found out who was behind the violent home invasions that were wreaking havoc on Charming.

[Warning: Major spoiler’s from Tuesday’s (Oct. 16) episode, along with some earlier episodes of season five.]

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Although the SAMCRO motorcycle club originally thought it was a rival gang attacking the homes of their friends and family, it turns out the man behind the attacks was one of their own -- former club leader Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman).

Perlman was nearly as in the dark about Clay’s intentions as the audience, finding out only one or two scripts before Tuesday’s episode that Clay had been behind the terrible break-ins.

“I actually started off this season trying to play this character in a weakened state, and in a more introspective state,” Perlman tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Only to find out later that he’s not taking the time to figure shit out. He’s going to work immediately on correcting these things that he considers to be wrong.”

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Perlman’s character was once in charge of the Northern California motorcycle club, with his stepson Jax (Charlie Hunnam) as his vice president. But everything changed at the end of season four, with Clay getting shot and losing his seat at the head of the table.

“When we hit the reset button for Clay, there was a million different directions that his journey could have gone,” he tells THR.

Clay spent the first few episode of season five in a weak and feeble state, recovering from his physical injuries, as well as the loss of his position of power and his broken relationship with his wife, Gemma (Katey Sagal).

“The notion to have him immediately take measures to gain back the club, by any means possible, even if they are as nefarious as this, was [creator] Kurt [Sutter]’s choice,” says Perlman.

Perlman says that the rest of the season will continue to explore the power struggle between Clay and Jax.

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“There’s a determination on both their parts to settle scores,” he says. “What this season is going to be is this obsession of Jax’s to try to get the club more in the spirit of the anti-Clay. And the obsession of Clay to try to unearth the fact that Jax is not ready to lead because he’s too much like his dad.”

Perlman reveals that “it’s been very tense” on set this season -- because every actor is unsure if their character will live to see another script. In the third episode of season five, a longtime member of the club, Opie (Ryan Hurst), was killed in a prison fight, leaving fans of the show shocked. Since that episode, the deaths have continued to come, one after the other, including Lieutenant Eli Roosevelt’s (Rockmond Dunbar) wife Rita (Merle Dandridge) and Nero Padilla’s (Jimmy Smits) madam, Carla (Wanda De Jesus), who were both killed off on Tuesday’s episode.

“Everything that we thought we knew about this world has been turned on it’s head,” says Perlman. “No one feels safe -- No one feels safe that they’re even going to make it to the next episode.”

Perlman, who spoke to THR before his final day of shooting for season five, was careful not to reveal too much about the rest of the season, but says that by the end, things will have changed in a “very, very inconceivable” way.

“I’ve only known for three or four days where I end up in season five,” he says. “I have zero idea where I start out in season six, much less whether I make it to season seven -- I don’t even know if I’ll make it to season six. I really don’t. That’s the cliffhanger of this year. Is that for the first time you are left to wonder, 'what the f---?'”

Sons of Anarchy airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m., on FX.

Email: Rebecca.Ford@thr.com; Twitter: @Beccamford