Kurt Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy was the most successful series in the history of cable network FX, so it’s no surprise that all eyes are on the creator’s follow-up, medieval drama The Bastard Executioner. Shot on location in Wales, the series is headlined by TV newcomer Lee Jones, and is slated for a two-hour premiere episode.
Last week, during a conference call with journalists, we spoke to Jones about preparing for his role, his relationship with Sutter, and what he’s most looking forward to audiences seeing from the new series. Check it out below.
Is there any pressure to be working on Kurt Sutter’s next project, knowing how successful Sons of Anarchy was?
Lee Jones: No, I think if I thought about that I’d be doing myself and the show a big disservice. We’re creating such a unique world, I think it would only be detrimental to start worrying about things like that. It’s kind of like we’re in a parallel universe, you know the year and filming and such elaborate depth and a fully realized world. We’re away from Hollywood in a way, and that’s kind of nice.
Sutter is known for having very close relationships with his stars. What has your experience been like working alongside Sutter to develop this show?
Lee Jones: It’s been great. From day one he was very supportive, looking out for me, making sure I had enough to go on. He’s just a really caring guy – he cares about how we’re feeling so we can deliver the work. We speak about where the character’s going from time to time, and I’m always interested to know what he’s thinking behind things, and I’m just trying to serve that back to him. And I feel like he’s feeding off what we’re doing. So stuff might come up in an episode down the track that he might have picked up from the dynamic between [the characters]. He’s a great guy, he’s very supportive of me, and we have a great friendship.
How much of a part does religion play in the series, and your character in particular?
Lee Jones: There’s a bigger mythology that [Kurt] is laying down – I can’t really talk about that, because it’s going to be a complete spoiler. But I would say it’s a back bone to individual characters, as well as creating the world. My character is struggling with his faith as a result of everything that has happened to him. But also, getting back to that is what’s driving him forward. He’s trying to find a higher purpose, and that all has to do with his spirituality as well as his religion.
What sort of physical preparation did you have to go through for this role?
Lee Jones: I got cast and went straight into a two-week boot camp. I hadn’t ridden horses before – I’d done a couple of pony trails, but that was it. We have an incredible stunt team here, and it was just two weeks of nonstop riding and sword fighting. I’d done a lot of sword fighting on stage before, so getting rid of the stage aspect and being really safe was what I focused on.
The stunt guys have got me doing some boxing footwork and that keeps me light on my feet, and keeps the swordsmanship looking quite fluent. But the horse-riding I’m obsessed with – I love it, it’s my new favorite thing. It’s rally exhilarating, and any day I’m on the horse, I’m happy – the scenes kind of take care of themselves. But yeah, it’s something I have to keep up when I get downtime – which I don’t really, at the moment. But it’s an ongoing thing.
Were the costumes and props helpful in allowing you to find the character?
Lee Jones: Yeah, when I had my first fitting, I put the costume on, and it really held me in a particular way, and that sort of gave me a nice grounding. That helped a lot. And also, the weight of the swords we use when we’re not using the safety ones – that’s great, getting to the fights. The physicality of having to do all that stuff informs the character a great deal.
Early footage from the series has draw comparisons to Game of Thrones. What do you think sets The Bastard Executioner apart?
Lee Jones: I think they are very different. This is very based in reality, it’s not fantasy in any way. There is a very well thought-out mythology behind the show, which Kurt is developing, but I think this is much more grounded in actual history. It’s a very gritty, real medieval world, rather than fantasy.
What is it about The Bastard Executioner that you’re most looking forward to audiences seeing?
Lee Jones: I actually think it’s the relationships between the characters. I think they’re beautifully drawn by Kurt, and there’s great subtlety and depth. I think he’s done a great job of creating the heart of the show, and that’s in the relationships.
The Bastard Executioner premieres on Tuesday, September 15th, exclusively on FX.