Kim Dickens is no stranger to television, with major roles in HBO’s Deadwood and Treme, as well as portraying Shelby Saracen in Friday Night Lights. She’s also a veteran of the big screen, appearing in such films as Footloose and The Blind Side.
This season, she guest stars on Sons of Anarchy as Colette, a madame who reaches out to Nero (Jimmy Smits) and Jax (Charlie Hunnam) in an effort to become a legitimate businesswoman. Unfortunately, Jax’s marital problems and Colette’s maternal instincts may prove to be a lethal concoction, as the temptation may be too much for the SAMCRO president to resist.
I spoke with Kim via telephone a few days before the season premiere. Here’s what she had to say about her experience working on the show.
I wish it was that glamorous. [laughs] It’s a little bit more like, they come to me if they need me for something, or I audition for it. I don’t feel like I really have the time to sit around and think about what I want to do next. I’ve just been fortunate… they’re pretty amazing shows and I’m honored to have been part of them.
I also saw that you’ve recently been cast in Gone Girl for David Fincher, so congratulations.
Thank you! That was a crazy, lucky thing for me. I wasn’t able to audition here in L.A. because I was in New York, so the casting associate put me on tape, and it was like eighteen pages of dialogue. I hadn’t read the novel, I was unfamiliar with it, but I read these eighteen pages and I thought “Wow, I want this.”
I usually feel like I get the things I’m supposed to get, and I don’t feel ferocious about most things, but I felt really passionate about it. I just worked on it that whole weekend, and auditioned, and then I was asked to come in and meet David when I got back to L.A. And then they offered me the part and I feel so, so grateful. It’s been really exciting, and I love the character and I love the script so much.
Do you prefer working in film more than television, or do you enjoy both?
I’ve really enjoyed working on television the last few years with HBO, and on Friday Night Lights and now Sons of Anarchy. I really enjoy that quality of work and how patient that storytelling is. You can really just sink your teeth in and the character is full of nuance and depth and minutiae, and it’s really fun to work on that kind of material.
I think that’s why a lot of bigger stars are flocking to television. I think the material is so grand right now, it’s like being in a novel. Which is exactly my experience right now on the film, ironically, because it is a novel and it does have all that depth. But in general, I’ve really been creatively satisfied working on television shows.
How did you get involved in Sons of Anarchy?
I auditioned for it. I think they initially thought they would go a little bit more mature with the character, and I was just lucky that it went my way. I think [Kurt Sutter] is a fan of Deadwood, and he’s had a lot of us on his show through the years, so I think I had that in my court, and he just gave me a shot at it.
As a fan of Deadwood, it feels like the character of Colette shares some similarities with Joanie Stubbs. Do you think there may be a little bit of Joanie in Colette somewhere?
No, not intentionally. [laughs] When you come on a show, an established show that’s not your own show and your character’s not a part of the main cast, you basically have to serve the needs of their show. I just took Kurt’s guidance there, what he described [Colette] as. She was smart, she was maternal, she was loving.
I just kind of played her with humanity, a person who’s come up from the streets and had that sense of humanity to her, instead of by-the-book, hardcore, playing it too saucy or real sexy. I guess it’s similar to Joanie because it’s me. [laughs] It’s just my essence.
I’m glad you pointed out that she’s maternal, because that’s one of the things that reminded me of Joanie. She was always taking care of people like Cy Tolliver and Calamity Jane, and I get the same vibe from Colette. When she meets Jax and they have this connection, she immediately wants to take care of him and to mother him a little bit.
Yeah, that’s our chemistry, and it definitely played out that way. And it’s true – Joanie, for all the suffering she’d had, she certainly was generous of spirit as far as helping the other marginalized souls along the way. Being a madame, you run a house full of girls girls that have sometimes had a hard life, so there’s an element of mothering that goes along with that.
As you mentioned, you’re coming in as a guest star and working with an ensemble cast that’s been together for a long time. What’s the atmosphere like on the set with these guys? Did they make you feel welcome?
You know what, it’s a lot of bear hugs when I show up. It’s a really warm, lovable, big biker gang. I have to tell you, I was sort of blown away by it, how really fun it is there from top to bottom. It’s just been a great experience for me. A lot of bear hugs.
With Colette partnering up with Jax and Nero, is she prepared for the side effects that go along with that? Is she ready to deal with the violent lifestyle?
I think Colette really feels like there’s no choice, and this is an opportunity to go legit. Changes have to happen, and it’s now or never for her. In this profession, sometimes you run up against people with questionable ethics and so forth, and it’s a great disappointment to her whenever there’s an obstacle that comes along due to that relationship, due to the heat on [Nero and Jax]. But I didn’t play it timid, at all. She’s sort of fearless in it.
Sons of Anarchy airs Tuesday nights at 10pm, exclusively on FX.