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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 03.15.13]

Last week "Sons of Anarchy" star Kim Coates was touring Western Canada promoting his new indie film Ferocious (review). The Canadian star proved to be a friendly and charming man who is extremely generous with his time, signing autographs and taking photos with fans for hours before the screening.

I had a chance to speak with Coates over the phone before the movie's Saskatoon premiere last week and he shared some thoughts about working in Canada and Hollywood, what it's like to work on "Sons of Anarchy" and he was kind enough to share a great memory about his work with Tony Scott.

Ferocious extends to Toronto and Winnipeg this weekend and is now playing across Canada.

Be forewarned, the discussion traverses some spoilers for both Ferocious and "Entourage." The spoiler sections are marked.

Congratulations on Ferocious. It's very good and you're fantastic in it. What it was about this role that appealed to you?


Thank you. Well I don't know what it is exactly but it's a gut feeling. I get offered a lot of roles, some I say no to but the ones I say yes to are special. You've seen the movie and even though I'm not allowed to talk about the twins that I play - I think we should start fucking talking about it to tell you the truth.

When I read that script I called my people right away and I said I had to do this movie but they wanted to do it when I was booked. I told them they couldn't do it without me and they'd have to change the date which they did.

There was something about playing Sal, he was so twisted and silent and strange and really conniving but honest in a way that was pure of heart. And then my agent suggested that I play Maurice too which I thought was a genius idea. When we told Robert about playing both characters he freaked out and couldn't believe he hadn't thought about it himself. You saw the picture. I'm just proud to be in it and proud that it works and proud that people are getting a chance to see it at Landmark Cinemas across the country.

I spoke with Robert earlier this week and at the time, hadn't seen the movie yet so we didn't talk specifics of the plot but I was under the impression you were in the movie for a while and then when you get killed off 15 minutes in I was like "What the fuck just happened?"

[In a falsetto voice] "Is it a cameo? Did Coates do a cameo? What's going on?"

I know. A lot of people have that same reaction. I saw it last night in the theatre and when Maurice dies people kept turning around and looking at me like "are you really dead or do you come back as a ghost? What the hell!" and then Sal shows and the rest is history.


It was a really short shoot, only 18 days, and you were all sharing a space, no trailers, everything very out in the open. How did that change the atmosphere on set?

I think it helped because in a very weird sense it was like going to war. We had no trailers, they had one little warehouse where they put these bullshit screen curtains to try to give us a little bit of privacy but we could hear everything everyone was doing. It was ridiculous but it was kind of great because it was like theatre camp. That's were we went, hair and make up was right there. Then we'd get in a van and go to set, and we'd take all our stuff to set because we weren't going to leave set. It was freaking cold and we just all had a little section of that bar. Honestly, it seemed to really work because before you knew it, 18 days just flew by. It was such an emotional roller coaster that god damned movie. We tried to shoot it as much as we could in sequence which is a credit to Robert and the ADs and everyone who worked on the picture. Pretty much that last section with Amanda and me, that was one of the last things we ever shot. It was kind of nice to shoot it in sequence.

The movie deals with public image and perception and trying to get a fresh start. You've had a very long career. If you had to do it over again, if you were a bright eyed young guy trying to break into the industry, is there anything you would do differently?

That’s a great question, it really is. I’ve always been proud that I always go with my gut and never look in the rear view mirror. I still do that and I’m very proud of that but the only thing that I maybe would have looked at differently would be television. I had no idea about the power of television. I didn't want to be in a series for all those years. I always wanted to be a movie and stage actor and I did that for years. You deal with these arcs on TV and it's a lot of a fun and a constant pay cheque is nice but it never appealed to me. and then "Sons of Anarchy" came along at the most critical time for me for many reasons. I just never knew the power of television.

When people turn that television on, they really feel like they're with you and for me to be on such a great, eclectic, no show quite like it on TV... I think it's been a good thing for my career. Should I have looked at TV a little earlier in my career? Maybe, but things happen for a reason. I can't wait to do another series when this one is over and it's going to be a comedy. Trust me when I say this: I'm doing a comedy. Get ready for it people.

You spoke a little there about TV work and you've done quite a bit of both television and movies over the last few years. Do you prefer working in one medium to the other?

I don't. I really don't. It's all about the work for me. It's all about the character. "Entourage" is perfect example. They already got me to do one show halfway though the eight seasons and then on the final season they really wanted to get some of their favorite guys back on the show. They called me up and asked me if I’d do one more episode in the final season. I said I would but that it had to be something special. The first time I did it was just to be on the show but this time around I had to have something special, something to really sink my teeth into it.


When I got that script... I've never been scared to do a part before but when I got that script I was scared. "How am I going to do this?" It was so overwhelming to me. To me, there's a good example of doing an arc on TV and loving it.


On my movies, from Black Hawk Down to Goon to my smaller ones like Ferocious, Rufus... I love movies. I love that you know the beginning and the end. You might not know how to get there but you know the beginning and the end and I love that. TV is a little weird because you don't know where the characters are going to go. I don’t know where Tig is going to go on "Sons of Anarchy." You don't know where any of these characters are really going. Kurt Sutter does and I think Kurt changes it up as characters come and go so maybe he's not even 100% certain. It's a whole different format. They're different but they're both very gratifying to me in their own way.

Does that fear drive you?

It did. It totally did. I mean this character that I played in the fourth season was a producer, talked fast, a bit slimy, and then you're about to see him on seven pages, ripped on so much cocaine and so much angst and family values and kids... and then these two leads from “Entourage” end up blowing my brains out. That's never been shown on “Entourage” before. Everyone thought I should have been nominated for an Emmy. It was so powerful. I don't do cocaine. I don't do any of that stuff so for me... let's just say I made a lot of phone calls.

Tom Arnold gave me the biggest compliment ever. Tom called me after that and said "You must have been high when you did that" and I said that I wasn't and he kept on saying "no tell me the truth, you must have been high." He finally believed me and said "you had it down brother."

My point is that it's all about the writing and all about the character and boy, I've had a lot of great stuff come my way and it's always fun and full of fear but when you pull it off it's very gratifying.

You've done some work in theater in the past. Any interest in returning to the stage?

I get offered theater all the time but I just haven't had the time for it but now I’m going to find some time. My little girl Brenna, she's second year at NYU, she's going to be a better actor than me, you wait. She's so talented this kid... how can I not be on Broadway when she's still at school? It's time for me to put the feelers out and see what's out there. I've done 50 plays, I've been on Broadway and Stafford. it's time to go back on stage. I've just been so busy with my TV and movie career and bringing up the kids that stage has taken a back seat.

Something has to give.

No doubt.

You're a big supporter of Canadian film. You do a lot of Canadian films and you have continued to support the industry. Is that a conscious effort on your part? Do you go out of your way to support Canadian filmmakers?

I think the funny thing is that people now know that I’m Canadian. The irony is that “Sons of Anarchy” has turned me into a celebrity and everyone just knows I’m Canadian. I’m a proud Canadian. I come up to do the awards shows and sometimes even get nominated if I’m lucky enough. It's just who I am. It's nice that Canadians are figuring that out about me because my American pals certainly know that about me. I guess I'm going to have to start tweeting now. I have so many fans out there and for my charities, to let people know what's going on. I’m very proud. I’m tickled when I get to come home and support the industry because it needs our support.

Over the span of your career you've worked with some amazing actors and directors. Do you have a favorite memory?

Let me tell you a favorite memory that I have of Tony Scott who is gone now. Scott directed my very first Hollywood movie The Last Boy Scout. The story is about Bruce Willis, Tony Scott and me. It's my first big movie. I'm in LA. They fly me in from Toronto because I was a Toronto actor at the time, they put me up, meeting all these agents. Oh my god it's exciting. They can't wait to get their hands on me and I get cast in this right away.

I come to set on the very first day. I hadn't met Willis yet. All the actors go on set first and then Bruce comes out. He's nice to me, very quiet but nice. We're shooting this big scene which takes two days to shoot and on the second day my character is supposed to die. Bruce is supposed to punch me in the nose, it's going to break and I’m going to fall back into a pool. I let Bruce finish the scene and then I walked up to Tony and I told him I wasn't really feeling the seen. So Tony tells me [British accent] "You're great baby. You're fucking great. Do whatever you want to do. We're going to do one for Kim. One for Kim." So before Bruce even knew what was going on they'd set up the cameras and Bruce went to punch me in the nose, I went down on my knees like a little boy and then fell flat on my back. Three cameras were running and everyone burst out laughing. It's a take, it's a wrap that's it. Willis gave me so many compliments when it was over.

The point was that Tony believed in me, this young actor and he said "you are great." He went right over Bruce's head and let me do that shot. Otherwise I would have had to do take after take of a scene that didn't feel right to me. It's a nice memory I have of Tony.

Are there any director or stars that you want to work with in the future?

I've worked with a lot but I'd still like to work with De Niro. I mean, he's still one of the main reasons I got into acting in university. Taxi Driver blew my mind and I wanted to do that. Act. Kevin Costner is a buddy, Willis is a buddy. Hanging out with great talented people all the time. You never know if you're going to meet people you want to work with or not. You just keep doing your work and when people start putting you in their sentences you know you're doing the right thing. That's all I concern myself with is working with the best people I can.

I'd be remiss not to ask about "Sons of Anarchy." You've been on the show for years now. Is it like coming home when you go back on set?

It is. It's a very good way to put it. We can’t wait to get the hell out of each others eyesight when it's all over because it's so tense and so crazy for five and a half months and then all of a sudden, six and a half months goes by and you come back to set and it's like a family reunion. Lots of catching up and stories about what we've been doing. When May comes around it's always very exciting time for all of us because we love doing it.

Is there anything we can tell us about the new season and Tig? You had a tough time last season...

I had a hard time didn't I.

Particularly bad.

It was a tough start for Tig and his daughter and Pope... I call it my bookend season. The first and last episode of the season were so huge for me and my character and for Tig and Jax and the club. The dog. I don't know what it means if Tig is becoming the moral compass of the show. I really don't know what that means. There's two seasons to go, we don’t' know what's going to happen. Kurt never really divulges much.

Kurt and his writers are in a foxhole right now writing away and they're going to have three or four scripts ready for us by the time we get there and before you know it it's October 20th and we're done. It just seems to fly. I have no doubt that there’s going to be a few more deaths before this is all over. There's a few more people to finish off some how.

You have a lot of fans so I thought it would be fun to go to Twitter and let them ask a few questions. @Adrian_Charlie wanted to know what it meant to you to be nominated for a Canadian screen award.

It's an honor. It's my third nomination for the Canadian Oscars now and I'm two for three. I’m not sure what that means. I tease about it a lot but it really is about the nomination. It means you're being respected and recognized by your peers. I love putting the tuxedo on and coming home for that. I love it.

@flomerella wanted to know how you feel about being a sex symbol and being adored by thousands of fans.

[Laughs] Who on earth thinks like that? Oh my. You've seen me. You've seen my nose Marina! My god. I can't even answer that. I don't know.

Are you really that disconnected?

Theo Rossi, my good friend on "Sons," he jokes that he gets all the girls under 30 and I get all the girls over 45. I don't know what that means but I take it as a compliment. I’ll just keep doing the show and wearing the cuts and staying in good shape.

You already mentioned you're going to do a comedy. What else do you have coming up shortly?

I'm about to star in a movie with Katherine Heigl called North of Hell. We're still crossing the t's and dotting the i's. It's supposed to shoot mid April and should be done before "Sons" starts for me. It's a great part and I’m very excited to do a comedy. It's funny and dark.

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