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Ron Perlman talks Connery, Brando, and whether he's watching 'Sons'

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As the title of Ron Perlman’s memoir Easy Street (the Hard Way) implies, the actor—whose Amazon pilot, Hand of God, recently got a season order and who voices a character in the Guillermo del Toro-produced animated feature The Book of Life now in theaters—has a life story full of ups and downs. “The book is very much about how every time something really, really bad happens, there’s a resolve that takes place as you heal your way out of it,” he says. “One of my favorite quotes, which is really representative of the book, is that I really never learned anything while I was succeeding; I always learned everything while I was failing, when everything was going bad, when the wheels were completely off the bus, and I had no idea how I was gonna get out of it. Somehow you do. And in doing so, you find out so much about yourself, so much about whatever spiritual thing you have going.”

The toughest chapters for him to pen with cowriter Michael Largo were those about the loss of his father at 19 to heart disease and the mental health issues in his family (including his own serious battle with depression). But he also makes it clear in the book that he struggled with how deep to go into his feelings about the isolation and discomfort he experienced on-screen and off during the end of his run on Sons of Anarchy. Did he give anyone a heads-up about that section of the book? “I don’t think any heads-up was necessary,” he says with a laugh. “We all lived through the same s–t.” And no, he’s not watching the show’s final ride. “I’d say there’s 15-20 percent of my work that I’ve never seen because I’m one of these guys that has a much better time doing it than watching it. And when I watch it, I’m not able to watch it objectively,” he says. “So the short answer to that is, I haven’t really watched Sons since season 4, or something like that. I didn’t even watch it when I was on it, so I certainly ain’t watching it when I ain’t,” he says with another laugh.

We got Perlman to share a few of our favorite stories from the book—spitting in Sean Connery’s face in The Name of the Rose and interacting with Marlon Brando on the set of The Island of Dr. Moreau—when he visited EW for an installment of Firsts & Worsts. Watch the video and read the transcript below. READ FULL STORY

This week's cover: 'Sons of Anarchy' takes its final ride

Sons of Anarchy fans still reeling from the Sept. 30 episode (read our recap) may want to take a beta blocker before reading this week’s cover story, which goes on the set and behind the scenes as the cast and the creator, Kurt Sutter, prepare for an epic ending.

The seventh and final season of FX’s highest-rated show finds Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) leading his motorcycle club, SAMCRO, on a mission to avenge the death of his wife Tara (Maggie Siff). What Jax doesn’t know is that his scheming mother, Gemma (Katey Sagal), is the real killer. In a preseason poll on EW.com, 81 percent of readers assumed that Gemma has to die for her crimes—and that was before her cover-up of Tara’s murder by carving fork ignited a street war with a devastating body count. “I kind of agree with them,” Sagal admits. “That seems like a correct assumption. I mean, it’s pretty heinous where she is now. Even though she didn’t mean it.”

Fans also assume Jax will eventually learn the truth. But what will he do? “Anyone else in the world, 100 percent guaranteed he’s gonna murder them in slow and brutal fashion, but it’s his mother, you know. It’s gonna be complicated,” says Hunnam. “I don’t envy Kurt in trying to figure out the right way to approach that.” Sutter already knows how the story will unfold—not that he’s willing to spoil it. “The question is, does Jax ever get the whole truth? Is he supposed to get the whole truth? If he only gets part of the truth, what does that mean? We’ll play with all that stuff,” he says cagily. “I think once he gets information, as much of it as he gets, we’ll see it play out in a different emotional way.” READ FULL STORY

'Sons of Anarchy' star Theo Rossi names another show that made him cry

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Theo Rossi will admit he was competitive playing Scene It? with his friends when they first moved from New York to LA, so it’s no surprise that he’s an entertainment junkie. To prove it, the man who plays Juice on FX’s Sons of Anarchy sat down to take one of our Pop Culture Personality Tests.

Watch the video and read the transcript the below—then feel guilty for thinking Juice must die this season. READ FULL STORY

EW's Brave New Warriors Comic-Con panel: Stars share the complications of playing leading men

You have to be a pretty brave guy to battle a headless horsemen, or a bike gang, or Nazi Germany and the crazy crowds at Comic-Con. But on Friday afternoon at EW‘s Brave New Warriors panel, hosted by our very own Darren Franich, actors Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel), Jon Bernthal (Fury), Tom Mison (Sleepy Hollow), Theo Rossi (Sons of Anarchy) and Brenton Thwaites (The Giver) showed how tough it can be to be the tough guy in the spotlight. Here are the highlights:

• Highmore, Mison, and Thwaites are all playing characters with a storied history already documented in previous movies, TV and books, but had different opinions about how to approach the men they play. Thwaites, who took on the iconic role of Jonas in the film adaptation of Lois Lowry’s The Giver, had never read the book when he first received the script. As for the significant age difference between Thwaites himself and Jonas as written in the book: “I have to explain to people why I’m 25 and the kid is 12 and I can’t, I don’t know why!” Mison originally thought adapting the American literary classic Sleepy Hollow in a modern TV world was a terrible idea, while Highmore’s only concern was not messing up the Norman Bates legacy left by Anthony Perkins’ original performance in Psycho. 

• Though they are all new warriors, the five actors have all shared their time with some real screen legends. Bernthal confessed that it was always his dream to work with Robert De Niro, which came true when he played his son in Grudge Match. On the last day of filming, Bernthal tried to get up the nerve to tell De Niro how influential he was to him as an actor, and now as a man. De Niro’s response? “We do these things… and then they’re over.” Thwaites said that Jeff Bridges was just as nervous when filming for The Giver started, and Highmore said when he worked with Johnny Depp on Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he was too young to even realize he was working alongside anyone special outside of those fantasy worlds.

• As for the much darker world he plays in now on Bates Motel, Highmore joked that he was happy he knew his character couldn’t get killed off the show and that he had a stable future. Conversely, he’s the one responsible for getting rid of other characters each week. “I don’t do it with glee though, they are all very lovely people,” he said, referring to his former cast mates.

• Mison must have been trying to prove his range as he consistently brought down the Comic-Con crowd with his jokes and English charm. “It’s nice after 10 years to finally be new,” Mison said, referring to working in America after years of success in the U.K. However, his anonymity has also given him a few laughs, like when in North Carolina (where Sleepy Hollow films), he overheard a couple of guys at a bar talking about the show, oblivious to the fact that the lead actor was sitting nearby listening. Luckily, they were saying positive things about the show. It wasn’t until Mison ordered a gin that they recognized his accent… and naturally paid for the drink. He also shared a story about getting cast in a French film after lying to the director, saying he was a fluent speaker. The sound guy quickly figured out the truth once filming started, and would whisper lines to Mison while pretending to fix his mic to help him out.

• Bernthal got to punch Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street, and though he would like the chance to sock him again, he doesn’t feel the need to fight anyone else onscreen. Maybe the fact that he has broken his nose 14 times in his career has something to do with it.

• Rossi said that Ron Perlman was the most intimidating person on set for Sons of Anarchy because “that’s Hellboy! No one else in the world looks like Ron Perlman.” Perlman was cast after the first pilot was shot and filmed, but once he and Rossi realized that they had similar upbringings in New York, the two became good friends.

For the first time, Thwaites talked about his upcoming film with Ewan McGregor, called Son of a Gun, about “a guy who goes to jail and meets this mentor [there]. My character gets out and runs a bunch of illegal errands for this guy and breaks him out for a gold heist.” Thwaites was cast exactly one year after he had watched McGregor in The Beginners and told a friend that he wanted to work with the actor within the next year.

• All of the men on the panel admitted their love for Game of Thrones, another Comic-Con staple that unfortunately had its panel going on at the same time. Mison jokingly apologized to the audience for attending their panel because they weren’t able to get into the other. Other TV loves? If Bernthal could be any other TV character, he’s choose Clare Danes in Homeland.

Stay tuned for EW’s all-access coverage of Comic-Con at EW.com/ComicCon.

Who will die in 'Sons of Anarchy's final season? The polls are open

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The third teaser for Sons of Anarchy‘s final season is titled “Fear the Reaper” (watch it below), and makes it clear that Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is the one people need to be scared of—and also that the law will be watching. As creator Kurt Sutter has said, Jax’s singular purpose for most of the season is to avenge Tara’s death. And as Sons fans know, retaliation—particularly when it’s misdirected—leads to more violence.

It’s a running joke among the show’s cast and fans alike that everyone will die by the time the credits roll on the series finale. But what if we asked you to seriously predict the fate of 15 characters?

Hit the polls below. Results will be used in Sunday’s Sons of Anarchy panel at Comic-Con (12:30 p.m. PT in Hall H), moderated by EW‘s Mandi Bierly.

UPDATE: The results are at the bottom of our panel recap.

READ FULL STORY

Here's what Marilyn Manson looks like on 'Sons of Anarchy'

FX has announced that the final season premiere of Sons of Anarchy will air Sept. 9 and be one hour and 45 minutes long. As EW reports in our Comic-Con Preview issue (on newsstands July 18), we’ll pick up 10 days after the tragic events of the season 6 finale. Jax will be behind bars, where he meets Ron Tully (Marilyn Manson), a white supremacist shot-caller whom he uses to expand his power base.

If seeing Jax in prison orange makes you uncomfortable, odds are you’re flashing back to season 5’s “Laying Pipe.” (Yes, the guys were wearing blue scrubs when Opie (Ryan Hurst) was killed, but they started and ended the episode in orange.) Jail has never been a safe place on SOA, which may also have you wondering if Manson’s recurring character will be long for this world. If you were signing on for Sons‘ epic final season, in which essentially everyone is expected to die, wouldn’t you hope to go out in a gloriously grisly way, too?

Let’s revisit the show’s history of prison deaths: READ FULL STORY

Would 'Sons of Anarchy' lose fans if it got Emmy noms? Kurt Sutter thinks so

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Sons of Anarchy fans expecting to read another colorful rant from creator Kurt Sutter about the FX drama’s lack of Emmy nominations may have been disappointed today. Not because the show actually did earn a nod (though Sutter, Bob Thiele Jr., and Noah Gundersen are nominated in the Original Music and Lyrics category for penning the song “Day is Gone,” which was used over the emotional montage at the end of the season-six finale). But because the guest column Sutter penned for NikkiFinke.com on how it feels to be snubbed in the major categories, again, only uses the C-word once. And that’s in reference to his prior reputation for losing loudly: “I’m halfway through my second paragraph and I haven’t called anyone at AMC a money-whoring, talentless c–t yet. So, that’s progress, right?” he writes. READ FULL STORY

'Sons of Anarchy': Jimmy Smits previews the heavy season finale (and lightens up with our Personality Test)

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Sons of Anarchy‘s violent sixth season comes to an end tonight (FX, 10 p.m. ET), and Jimmy Smits admits he took a deep breath before he cracked the finale’s script.

“Just because Kurt Sutter, the executive producer who’s in charge of the writer’s room — can I curse? — likes to blow s–t up,” Smits says, with a laugh. “And I mean that in a lot of ways. Not just literally, although they do sometimes blow s–t up. All the characters are left off-kilter, which is a great thing to play as an actor. But there’s that moment where you’re like, ‘That bullet could have my guy’s name on it.’ One of the first shots of the episode is this dove getting smashed by a motorcycle. I was like, ‘Whoa, this is the jump-off point?'” (“No animals were harmed,” he adds. “It was all CGI. CGI!”)

In the penultimate episode, Nero (Smits) learned from Juice that Jax had ordered him to kill Darvany, the mother of the 11-year-old who used a gun that can be traced back to Nero’s Byz-Lats and SAMCRO in a school shooting during the season premiere. Nero also learned from Alvarez that the Mayans MC are preparing to side with the Chinese in a war against SAMCRO and Marks’ Niners, should it come to that. “A recurring resonant chord that’s hit in the show is betrayal — and what happens in this world that we’re in when betrayals happen,” Smits says. “The pull between Nero’s supposed end game that he thought he had and now this family and the MC are really tugging at him. So he’s got to make some decisions there that are gonna impact things.”

With enough drama on the show, we opted to give Smits a few laughs with our EW Pop Culture Personality Test. Watch the video below. READ FULL STORY

TV Recap: 'The Voice,' 'New Girl,' and 'SOA' -- VIDEO

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Missed Tuesday night’s episodes of The Voice, New Girl, and Sons of Anarchy?

Find out who went home on the singing show, how CeCe’s (Hannah Simone) date with Coach (Damon Wayans, Jr.) went, and who bit the bullet on Anarchy in EW’s TV Recap video below. READ FULL STORY

Katey Sagal remembers being a tween Beatlemaniac (and we found footage) -- VIDEO

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This week’s episode of Sons of Anarchy is a great one for Katey Sagal. There’s a scene with Maggie Siff’s Tara that we’d rank in Gemma’s top five, and Sagal’s stirring rendition of Jackson Browne’s “For a Dancer,” available on her new album Covered, is used for an opening montage. (Browne provides background vocals for the album’s beautifully somber cover of Steve Earle’s “Goodbye”: “[Earle's] in recovery. I’m in recovery as well. He calls that song an amends song, and I know all about that,” she says.)

SOA fans may not know that Sagal, who has two other solo albums, worked as a backup singer for Bette Midler for about five years. “We’d do the same show night after night, but she’d still rehearse. Like all around the world, she’d rehearse in the lobbies of hotels. She was always tightening,” Sagal recalls. She sang with Etta James for a period as well. “I traveled across the country — me, Etta, and a bunch of guys on a bus. That was interesting,” she says. And then there was Bob Dylan: “I could barely speak. He ended up firing me, I’m sure, because I couldn’t even talk.”

As we learned when Sagal sat down for an EW Pop Culture Personality Test, that’s not the only time she’s been starstruck. Watch the video below in which she shares a childhood memory about police having to escort her home in 1964, when the Beatles came to Los Angeles to play a charity event. Among the crowd of hysterical young girls who made the CBS News while waiting outside to catch a glimpse of the Fab Four — Sagal. Bless the Internet, we found the footage…
READ FULL STORY

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