Sons of Anarchy's Ryan Hurst: 'Opie's Reached the End of His Rope' With Jax, Clay and SAMCRO

Sons of Anarchy‘s breakneck fourth season continues this Tuesday (FX, 10/9c) with perpetually downtrodden Opie featured prominently due to the untimely (and unseemly) death of his father. How will he cope with the knowledge of who killed Piney? Should retaliation be expected? Is Opie’s friendship with Jax now but a distant memory? Ryan Hurst spoke with TVLine about what lies ahead for his conflicted Son as well as what the end of the season holds for the club.

TVLINE | Opie has now been catapulted to a darker place than we’ve ever seen him — and that’s saying a lot. What’s going through his mind moving forward?
There’s a lot of talk on this show about the club, the club, the club, but there’s also this pragmatic side to it that a lot of members face in their lives where they say, “Well, wait a minute — this is my life we’re talking about and what good is this doing for me personally?” Opie and Jax’s [respective] journeys are very similar in that they are questioning the purpose of being a part of this club in the end. Jax has obviously decided to leave the club and focus on his family, and meanwhile Opie is losing more and more of his own family. Things with Lyla don’t seem to be panning out, and his father gets murdered. And Opie has reached the end of his rope. He realizes that he’s giving his life to this thing that’s killing him, so there’s some real soul-searching that Jax and Opie do that is paralleled nicely.

Sons of Anarchy‘s Maggie Siff: ‘Something In Tara Has Snapped’ – But Is the Worst Yet to Come?

TVLINE | Speaking of Jax and Opie, there is a serious strain on their friendship at the moment, given recent events. Is that relationship fractured beyond repair?
I would say that for the time being it’s pretty much fractured. I’ve spoken a lot with [series creator] Kurt [Sutter] about where things might go for following seasons, and [in Opie's mind] — and I believe this is something I brought up with [the writers] in the second season — the only thing that holds anyone to an organization is their trust in it. A few seasons back when Opie sat down with Clay and the club when they thought he was a rat, he said, “It looks this way, but it’s not this way,” and he was led to believe everything was cool. And then Clay turned around, tried to kill him and ended up offing his wife [Donna]. There’s a similar thing brewing now between Jax and Opie. He feels betrayed  [because] Jax convinced Opie to sign off on the [drug cartel deal] without telling him he was planning on leaving the club, which is lying by omission. That, plus his trust being broken with Lyla, his trust in people in general has really been broken down and torn apart. For the foreseeable future of Jax and Opie, Jax is really going to have to prove himself in a way that can salvage their relationship.

TVLINE | By the same token, Opie’s trust in Clay is now completely abolished, and I cannot fathom a world in which these two can coexist let alone participate in the same club. How can Clay possibly survive the season? And is this a relationship that can be salvaged enough to continue on in Season 5?
That’s a great question, but I don’t really have an answer for you… [Laughs]

TVLINE | Fair enough. I have to say, the way you’re talking about the show makes it seem like you’re as big of a fan as the average viewer. Are you actually someone tuning in week-to-week?
Yeah, I love everyone in the cast and the whole creative team. I feel like I’m pretty much an average viewer. [Laughs] There are some episodes I feel strongly about that really hit home, and then there others that are kind of more filler than anything else. Kurt just has so much story that he wants to tell, and in that capacity I’m a huge fan of the show.

TVLINE | Talk about the death of Piney. Did it come as a surprise to the cast that the producers decided to kill off William Lucking‘s character?
It was a huge surprise. No one really knew that it was coming, and afterward, once word came down, Charlie [Hunnam] and I took a meeting with Kurt and asked if there was any way we could not lose him. Obviously it’s Kurt’s show and he knows the story better than we do, but Bill’s just such a strong component to the dynamic. Kurt said, “No, guys, I’m sorry. This is the decision that I made and that’s the way we’re going.” We had a big going-away party for Bill at a nice restaurant to send him off, but it was a very sad day. Also, the way that the whole thing developed is that originally in the pilot script, Piney was not Opie’s father; he was just another club member. It was the likeness between the two of us that made Kurt decide to put it in that way, and it ended up being the missing piece in the dynamic of the whole show. It helped complement Jax and Opie’s relationship as two guys who grew up with their fathers in the club. But, yes, Bill’s really missed.

TVLINE | We’re heading into the final three episodes of the season and given the intensity of the installments up to this point, I have to imagine fans are in for more of the same — meaning not being able to breathe, but not wanting to look away either.
From the very beginning of the show, Kurt has been very good at restraint. Even though he tells these big, broad, violent stories, he’s good at pulling the information back up until the last couple of episodes, where he then just takes the inertia that’s been building throughout the season — or seasons — and flies through it, so we always end with a bang. It’s a testament to his ability as a creator and a showrunner. And the way in which he does that this season — I would say from a viewer’s standpoint — delivers the strongest ending that this show has ever had by far. [This momentum] probably started when Piney died and from there on out there was a change on set where the cast started getting excited again about the show and talking to the writers and Kurt about the really great stuff they were putting out there. When you’re on a show for the longterm, you don’t usually get a lot of that. You kind of just show up and do your best, but when everybody four years in starts getting excited about the story that they’re telling, you know it’s good.

Exclusive: Sons of Anarchy Boss Kurt Sutter Sheds Light on This Season’s Very Dark Twists

TVLINE | This season has certainly seemed amplified in so many ways, but was that the plan from the start? Or as the scripts came in, were you all becoming more aware of just how good it was?
Beforehand Kurt let us know that the majority of last season he had this very personal story that he wanted to tell that involved all that happened in Ireland, and going into this season he had a lot of ammunition at his disposal. He’d refocused the show back on the club and character dynamics within, and he hinted at what that meant going in. From the get-go he said that this would be “the year of the gun” and that it’s all about the club, so everyone should get ready to do a lot of work. But we had no idea — like you said — how raw the middle and end of this season was going to get.

TVLINE | As it stands now, everything that has happened to Opie is bad, and his world is sort of crumbling around him. But is there a chance this all might ultimately afford him some much-needed closure?
I always tease the writers that Opie is the Job of this show — nothing good ever happens to him and it’s always torture. [Laughs] I’ve made fun of Charlie about it, too. So much of this show revolves around Jax not finding out what happened to John [Teller], as well as Gemma and Clay’s possible involvement in his death, and Opie, meanwhile, has been dealing with that stuff since the end of the first season! He knew Clay killed his wife and now he knows Clay killed his father, and it’s kind of like he runs interference on a lot of the issues Jax is being protected from. But by the end of this season, all of that stuff can’t be controlled anymore. It bubbles to the surface and he realizes the life-and-death nature of what he’s become and what he’s a part of. There’s an old saying that if you live a violent life, you die a violent death, and he’s reaching a point where [he's asking himself] if he’s willing to accept that one of these guys is probably going to kill him in his bed. And is he OK with dedicating his life to that? In true Kurt form, you’re not going to get an answer this season. It’s unavoidable anymore for Opie, and that becomes clear, but a firm answer [to that question] really won’t be handed out this season.

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62 Comments
  1. GeekGirl13 says:

    How great to see an interview with Ryan Hurst here! Opie is one of my favorite characters on Sons and Hurst has become a favorite actor as well.

    • Brian says:

      i cannot agree more; his work is good, because you can see what he is thinking before he utters a word. he doesnt indicate anything, but yet his entire countenance tells you where he is at.

  2. Valerie says:

    Love, love, love Opie, and Ryan does an amazing job of bringing him to life. My heart breaks for him constantly. I’m really hoping that Opie is the guy that pulls the trigger on Clay, because I’m really hard pressed to think of someone who deserves to do it more. And I think Jax should need to work HARD to win back Opie’s trust.

  3. amy says:

    enjoyed Opie’s journey thus far, but Ryan is right about the filer episodes there have been quite a few this season.

  4. Amanda says:

    LOVE OPIE! LOVE THIS SHOW! WHAT AN AMAZING SEASON! I’M EXCITED!

  5. samcro says:

    this cast deserves way more recognition. ryan hurst has been incredible this season. great interview!

  6. Kaibosh says:

    This twist on Hamlet is very cool. The question is: is Opie Laertes? In which case he will eventually fight Jax’s Hamlet to the death? Or is he Horatio? Who then is Laertes? Would that be Tig?

  7. Ruby says:

    I’m sick with worry that Opie is going to die instead of Clay. I will be broken-hearted if that happens. Opie’s been my favorite character since the pilot. Ryan Hurst is one of the most overlooked actors on TV.

    • bhm1304 says:

      I think Ryan Hurst is safe because of the fact that he is so damn good and can get across exactly how he feels with a look rather than pages of dialogue. The original story of the first season had “Opie” dying but Sutter couldn’t/wouldn’t get rid of him and changed his mind and the lovely Sprague Graden “Donna” took the bullet for her husband. Best show on television.

    • Cora says:

      I agree, Ruby. Please do not kill off Opie! I don’t think they will, because if the show is going to have another season, they need younger characters. The show is called “Sons” of Anarchy, after all. In fact, if anything, I think there has been too much focus on Clay. Ron Perlman has stolen the show from Charlie. Perlman must have gotten the most response from viewers.

  8. Plum says:

    Opie is one of the most amazing characters on TV today, he just brings so much gravitas and heart to SAMCRO. My only wish would be that Opie wash his tuff, tuff hair; I’m pretty sure that’s why Lyla left.

    Seriously, I love his loopy beanie but with hair that grimy Opie can either embrace a Rock a Doodle pompadour or give it a good long hot wash.

    • Jen says:

      I wast just saying how Opie and Piney lend a gravitas to the show, and it must’ve been a slam dunk to make them son & father when they were cast.

    • Jade says:

      Everything bout Opie is looking good to me. ;)
      I love his hair this season. He has gotten more tastey with every season. (Of course, Hurst’s acting has steadily evolved, too, as he has grown with his character. He completely blew me away over the last few episodes, whether he was crying out to his lifeless father or the silent, pregnant tension in his exchanges with Jax. He hits every note so perfectly.)

      But back to the point – I wish this show could go on forever just so Hurst couldn’t shave his beard or cut his hair. :P
      Yum…
      (I, also, really really thoroughly enjoy the show.)

  9. shane says:

    if clays resonsible for all the simularities with jax n opie when clay gonna get his day of reckoning

  10. joann morrow says:

    This is my favorite show by far, it takes u on a rollercoaster ride weekly, u never know whats next, unpredictable!!!! I love all the charactors, jemma is my favorite, she has heart and has convictions, she is all about her family, in an non traditional way. Love u guys!!!!

  11. My says:

    I am excited to see what will happen in the future for Opie and Jax. I’d like for him to off Clay, but he did get his revenge on the ATF woman, so we will see if it is he or Jax who settles the score… His hair, I have to say, fits his personality and character because his life in the show is unforseen and unstable. From the begining he fought with Donna about the the club, the decision and reprocussions for going back to it, losing her, his father, and the unstability with Layla.

    Tara is a sight to behold with her life crumbling as it seems in her mind, but she definitely needs a major revamp in the hair department.

  12. Ed says:

    I think the club should deink Clay before killing him.

  13. Mikki says:

    Opie is one of those characters that you just can’t help but fall in love with! I hope he catches a break soon! :) Ryan Hurst is an amazing actor!! Hands down my favorite on the show.

  14. Papa T says:

    I spotted that too, but how could I call Megan out on it? I mean look at her picture… she’s SO cute. Plus, she’s a Sons fan, so let’s cut her some slack. Her heart is in the right place.

  15. Papa T says:

    Oops, I think the post I was replying to got axed. Sorry about the confusion. You could yank these two, too.

  16. tanya says:

    This is the best show ever. The storyline rocks and the characters deliver on being true rockstars in the way they portray intense and real people that you want to keep watching. I can’t wait to watch the show every week and I am excited to see how each episode reveals the fate of Clay and the club as well as Clay’s relationship with Gemma and Jax. I believe that everyone is in agreement that Clay’s greed and recklessness has gone too far and his arrogance and selfishness is the cause of his downfall that sets in motion him ultimately losing everything.

  17. Laurie says:

    Ryan Hurst is definitely underrated. From the all-American football player in Remember the Titans to bringing Opie to life on SOA, he can do it all. Hope to see lots more of him in the future, whether it’s on TV or at the movie theater. He’s terrific!

    • Cathy says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Hurst brings such a quiet dignity to his roles that he makes anything he’s in a million times better. I watch SOA for him.

    • Grace says:

      The first time I ever saw Hurst was in an old episode of “House”. I’m not even sure how many years have gone by since then, but I remember thinking he was going to do a lot of things. Nowadays I’m never surprised by his acting abilities, but I am shocked that I don’t see him exhibiting them in more places.

  18. Duane says:

    Great interview that added alot to this season,but also to the story of past seasons too. I word love to see Kurt Sutter write a book along the way to fill in the blanks he can’t do on FX or doesn’t have the time to squeeze in. That is why I have been getting the DVD sets as the commentary is great to go but and listens to from the cast and directors. LONG LIVE SOA,best show Fox has going.

  19. Brigette says:

    I hope Opie pulls the trigger on Clay and gets the revenge he needs . He is the greatest actor on the series

  20. Granpa T says:

    Opie ( Ryan Hurst ) is one of our favorite characters, althought all of the key characters are doing a great job in their roles. It’s gone from a “biker” story to a real “people” story which my wife and I ( we are senior citizens btw )look forward to each week. Great job Mr. Sutter !

  21. Bill says:

    Looks like Clay had a Tony Sopprano moment with his old lady !!

  22. mb says:

    Its time to bring Donna back – somehow, some way…. the writers should do it!

  23. John H says:

    With a blowtorch……

  24. deb baker says:

    It amazed at how closely this program depicts my life along with my husband in Stockton California in the 80’s. honestly, at times it is as if someone knew us and put it to print.
    if a character came into play called S.A. I would be asking for rights.lolI love the program played out on screen, however the real life bit was not so glamorous for us. At times watching the program is so sur- real that it frightens me a little.

    Need a writer?lol I can write the chapter where jax and his woman pack a u-haul while the gang is waiting for Jax to show up at the club to kill him, and they even show up at his house,step up inside the back of the u-haul and say hey S.A. (I mean jax). see you at four. with Jax swearing that he needs a few hours to get rid of his bitch! They depart,(the members) ( Jax), (S.A.) says baby if you don’t get me out of here, they are going the kill me, today..CUT!
    Next scene, hurry, hurry, in truck and down a major high- way, and never look back.
    anyway, great show!!!!!

  25. Kimm says:

    Great interview!

  26. Joni says:

    I love this. The article kept me going til the finish, much like SOA. I didn’t get started til season 3 so there are still missing pieces for me. Absolutely love the show, story line, and truth that comes from it. I hope they shoot for many more seasons not just season 6….

  27. Judy hamblin says:

    I think opie has been through enough. I LOVE THIS SHOW, IT IS THE BEST. GOOD JOB EVERYONE HAPPY THANKSGIVING

    • gwen says:

      Back in my hippie years i was friends with a biker club here in Boise by the name of BROTHER SPEED. They were so giving to those who were down and no place to live and nothing to eat. Bikers got a bad rap back then, and still do at some places, I love the people in S.O.A.. They start to become a family and you love and care for some of them and the rest you want to do away with them, I look forward to Tues. every week just to see how everybody is holding up, and Jema I love your name and Opie you have been through enough, it’s time you find a woman who deserves you, you have so much to give and it’s about someone gives back to you, a love, a love to make you smile, an everlasting love. I wish it could happen to me with you but like they say it only happens in your dreams. Everybody have a great Holiday Season and a long and exciting season in 2012.

  28. debra loustau says:

    I love “OPIE” and “JAX”! I just hopr there is a way for the two of them to come together & Do the Job In S.O.A. way – I want them to be close and Best friends again. They are such good actors, and why not make it a way that they both band together, and take “Clay” out – but something tells me, that Cay will turn up in the next season…Makes me sick~BIG QUESTION…WHO WILL PAY???

  29. Muskokasmiles says:

    LOVE OPIE…great character..Ryan plays it well and he is HOT !!

  30. boomer says:

    Great to see Clay dead.
    He needed to die sooner!

  31. RodHog says:

    “Live by the sword, die by the sword…” Even though Clay didn’t die, he deserves to. All of his murdering and lying have not been about helping his club. Instead, it has all been about holding onto the gavel. Something is about to hit the fan… Interesting season, and it’s laid the groundwork for a good finale and who-knows-what for next season.

  32. Izzy ( israel moreno) says:

    Kurt, you are awsome! This is outstanding work you really know how to keep us in suspence. Im ready for more I cant wait a week.

  33. jessica says:

    I second EVERYTHING you said :)

  34. aj says:

    Posted a comment but was erased jeezus t.v is too freakin sensative!!!op’s character is raw and seeing him go thru b.s with a take no b.s attitude calls for great t.v

  35. Eula Mae says:

    Opie hair is his attire. That makes him who he is. Yes lyla lied and she is not Donna but I think she is good for opie. Lyla & Tara should kill Wendy and that slut both of there men slept with. Hopefully clay will not die But.. After opie shooting him he can just be at home with his arithritis hand and his bullet wound and lying wife. Jax & opie the sons running the show.

  36. Eula mae says:

    Opie a man of few words but his face you can’t tell what he is thinking. But when he started talking boy did he talk not only did he talk he put 2 bullets into clay •{hooray}• my man JAX god he is so good looking. My husband and I bought a puppy before thinking of what we wanted I already picked out a name {JAX}. My half beagle half English bulldog lives up to his name and he is only a puppy cute has Jax

  37. Elaine says:

    I doubt they can get rid of Clay that easily. He knew Opie was coming. Maybe he’s wearing a bullet proof vest. and dit didn’t look like opie got off the best shot. like.. not in the heart. I mean I hope he did. That psycho clay needs to be gone.. he’s beyond redemption.

    But you gotta love this show. Kurt Sutter is fracking brilliant. At the end of every episode is always a huge surprise…… or something that makes you think “jeusus, why do I have to wait 7 days for the next one?”

    And after seeing today’s episode….. i’m thhinking’ Jesus, why do I have to wait 7 days for the next one?”
    Except if Clay lives to be around next season, cause man, I can’t imagine what Sutter could come up with to redeem that guy.
    Long rule Kurt sutter .. I’m not worthy. I’m not worthy.

  38. Shane Hillebrans says:

    Opie is without a doubt getting the attention and revenge deserved to him. Wasn’t expecting him to ever get justice.. but S.O.A will take your mind for a ride.. Never can expect the next scene with certanty. Keep up the great work Cast And Writters.

  39. jim barrett says:

    I saw the show tonight and I do the same as Opie I want, to kill or hurt really bad . As famliy is the most important thing in this world I would do what ever to keep them safe

  40. Lisa Dufour says:

    I can’t seem to find a way to re watch episodes of Sons Of Anarchy, I missed last nights show and would like to watch it! Can anyone help me with a site to watch episodes for free!? Thanks

  41. Terry says:

    I love the SOA but clay is a punk this is the best season ever!@ much betrayal goin on here!

  42. Cora says:

    Another thing — I do like Charlie as an actor, and he is very attractive. But his accent has been failing him recently. His British accent has become more and more obvious. He needs to flatten out and lengthen those vowels.

  43. jkb says:

    this show is fabulous & enjoyed by many of us from diverse backgrounds who may not be the creators target audience. we have introduced the show to others who have also come to love it. and yes, Opie is one of our favorites too. keep up the great work!

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  46. Zach says:

    Half sack and opie are my all time favorite characters in SOA. I’m looking forward to seeing how opie and jax can repair their friendship, and how much jax is turning out like his old man.

  47. lori says:

    SOA >>>> My Addiction*Best show ever!!
    JAX & OPIE are some real damn good actors…love them boyz…
    Cannot wait for season 5….
    Thank You Kurt Sutter for making the world alot happier ;)

  48. Mayra says:

    I just can’t believe ya killed Opie I’m so piss.. I was scream at the TV .. Ughhh why?? I loved him Opie you will be miss”(

  49. Kayla says:

    Dang!!!! Ive been looking all over for something to say why Opie had to die. Was he starting a new show or what? I was outdone to see Opie die last night. I was looking forward to see what would happen next in the Jax/Opie/Clay saga. I will certainly miss Op. Hopefully there is some killer episodes and storylines coming up that will make up for this. op was one of the best on the show. OAN:Didnt realize that Op’s portrayer was Gerry Bertier in Remember The Titans. He has certainly evolved.

  50. Kayla says:

    This better be a dream and Jax is going to wake up and Opie is going to be alive. Uggghhhh