When we last heard from Sons of Anarchy star Kim Coates, he promised that the seventh and final season of the hit FX series would see the return of Walton Goggins as Venus Van Dam, the transgender escort with a particular affinity for Alex “Tig” Trager. Last night’s fourth episode certainly delivered on that promise, with some surprisingly sweet results.
Earlier this week, we caught up with Kim Coates via telephone to ask him about the evolution of the Tig and Venus romance, how he thinks it will be received by audiences, and how his post-Sons of Anarchy plans are shaping up.
[WARNING: Spoilers for Sons of Anarchy Season 7, Episode 4 below]
Alright, that last episode scared the shit out of me. When that shotgun blast rang out and Tig dropped, my first thought was “oh my God, they killed him.”
I know, right? If you go back over the litany of the show, Tig has been close to perishing the most. Juice can’t quite ever do it right – he keeps trying to kill himself and can’t pull the trigger – but I seem to find different ways of not dying.
He’s a cat, he’s got nine lives.
For sure! I really have had nine lives in this show, but that’s a really good thing.
When we talked a few weeks ago, you had mentioned that we would definitely see Venus again. I was glad to see her, but I didn’t think it would be under such circumstances. It almost felt like Tig thought this might be the end of the road, and he wanted to be with someone he cared about, which felt like a very uncharacteristically sweet sentiment.
Thanks, man. You could not have said that any better. When you sign up to get on this motorcycle with Kurt Sutter, you never know where the bike is gonna go, and you certainly don’t know where he’s gonna go with these characters. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when he does write for Tig – and there’s never enough Tig in the show for me – when he does write for that character, I get some of the best stuff.
And I thank him so much for that, because again, you see a [different] side of the character. Sutter loves that shock and awe, Sutter loves that surprise, Sutter fires from the hip, and these are his concoctions. And to see another side of Tig? I don’t know if it’s love or not, but I know it’s a tender moment.
Tig, you know, he’s not afraid of anything, other than dolls. Nothing. He doesn’t care what people think, he doesn’t care what people say – maybe if you say it the wrong way he’s gonna shoot you right between the eyes – but he’s his own man, and in a really raw kind of way, I almost think that Tig is the most “man” out of everybody. He’s just so well-rounded in every respect, and I’m having a joy playing him for the final season.
There was a really interesting juxtaposition in this episode. When the subject of Venus first comes up and Tig mentions they’ve stayed in touch, the reaction from the club is like “what the hell is going on here? But when Tig gets hurt and you see that the only thing he wants is for someone to call Venus and make sure that she can be there with him, you realize this isn’t a weird sexual fetish thing – there’s really something a lot deeper between those two.
You’re right – I don’t know if it’s sexual or not, but I’ll say this, and we’ll let the viewers decide whatever they want. To me, how awesome is that to be so at peace with who you are as a man? “Get Venus here right now, I want her here right now.” That’s pretty amazing. There’s no hospital, there’s no doctors, just “get her, and get here here right now, please.”
That just speaks volumes about who Tig really is – he doesn’t give a shit, it’s his way or the highway. And it doesn’t mean he’s not loyal to Jax’s ideas or trying to be part of the club in whatever way Jax will have him, but he’s his own man. And that was a really sweet moment with her. Keep watching, people, keep watching.
One thing that I also found interesting, as you talk about Tig being his own man – it almost feels like Venus might know him better than some of the other members of the club. She keeps referring to him as “Alexander,” and I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of any other episode where Tig has been addressed by his first name. And that says a lot about what their relationship is like.
Yeah, that was her idea. That’s the way she rolls, she would call him “Alexander.” But no, I never introduce myself with my first name, it’s always Tig, it’s Chibs, it’s Juice, not Filip or Juan Carlos. We all have first names that we never use, but she does, when she refers to me. So that means they’re pretty tight.
There’s never enough of “where do these guys go” or “where do they live” or “who do they hang out with other than the club?” There’s never enough time to get into those lives, and I wish we could’ve, selfishly. Where does Tig go? We’ve been to my house once, and it was in the first season. Where does Juice go, where does Chibs hang? We don’t know, we never take the time to go there. We’re always doing other things, that’s how epic this story is. But it’s really nice when there’s different stuff like that, and I think it should resonate with people, that whole Venus-Tig relationship.
For you, as an actor, what’s it like working with Walton Goggins?
There’s nothing I can say. He’s a phenomenal actor, he’s a really good buddy of mine, and no matter what we do together, we’re going places that you can’t really have any fear to go. He’s that kind of actor, and this will be an amazing little library we’re going to have for these characters when this season’s over. Obviously, there’s more coming down the pipe here, and it’s phenomenal to go to set with Walton. He’s 100 percent in it, and so am I, and it makes for a very quiet set. You can hear a pin drop when he and I are on set together, and that’s exactly what you want as an actor.
Talk to me about the kiss – again, a moment that was very sweet and very touching. I think a lot of people will be very happy to see that, but I think there may still be some that are shocked by it.
I don’t care. I don’t care what they think. I’m an actor, man. This is fiction. If this was reality, we’d have been in jail by the third episode in Season One. This is a riveting television drama with some humor and some great acting, great writing, and it’s fiction. As an actor, you want the greatest stuff. And I’ve never done that before, as an actor, so I didn’t plan anything, and Walton didn’t plan anything. When we read it, it was like “alright.”
And I’ll tell you this, when all the boys left the clubhouse, every single one of them went to the monitor, watched that kiss, and every single one of them came back in and gave us a standing ovation. There was no “oh my god” or anything. We’re all men, we’re all real people. And good for the transgender world, I’m so proud to bring that to light in a different way, within the parameters of our crazy-ass show. I’m an actor, man.
Just bring it.
Many times when you see a transgender individual portrayed in a television series or movie, they’re depicted as a stereotype. With Venus, she’s a fully fleshed out character, with a backstory and with emotional ties to the other characters. She’s not there for shock value – even though some people may be shocked by her – and I think that’s why so many viewers have sparked to her.
That’s right. This isn’t just a street corner, or a phone booth, and then they never see each other again. This has been coming since the fifth season. I’m so in it that I don’t even think about it, but people who are watching the show will have their own impression of it. Love it, hate it, want more of it, never wanna see it again – I don’t really care. I really don’t. I’m just so blessed to be with Goggins and to be giving 110 percent, because it is beautiful.
It’s a beautiful moment, and those are the moments that will put a ribbon on this ultra-violent, fictional biker world. It’s moments like this, moments like my daughter burning in front of my eyes, moments like Jax holding Tara at the end of last season. Those are the moment that resonate with people. It’s not the wiping people out with Uzis – that actually bores the shit out of me, to tell you the honest truth – but the real drama, the real scenes, the real connections with these characters, that’s what it’s all about for me, as an actor.
You and Goggins are walking a similar path, because you’re both on shows that are coming to an end after this season. Maybe you should team up for another show together.
[laughs] There’s been a lot of people who want a Tig-Venus spinoff. That might be a little too much for me, but I’ve sure had fun working with Goggins on this set. We’re almost done, brother. We’ve got a month left, man. It’s winding down, it’s pretty crazy.
So what’s next for Kim Coates?
There’s so much going on. It’s a really a good time to be Kim Coates, and I’m really excited. I don’t know, I’m not forcing anything. To be available for movies again on a full-time basis is so exciting. I’m booked right up til Christmas, even after Sons is over, I’m booked til Christmas. I think after that, I’ll be looking for my show, you know? It’s time to get my show now, and do my movies again, and it’s just really exciting. But I’m blessed to be on this show, and I’m really happy. We really do love each other. I just can’t wait to get back into the world.
Sons of Anarchy airs Tuesdays at 10pm, exclusively on FX.