Never a show to shy away from a high body count, Sons of Anarchy on Tuesday delivered not one, not two but four deadly doozies in the span of an hour.
The first causality of the night was Sheriff Eli Roosevelt’s wife Rita (played by Merle Dandridge), who succumbed to the gunshot wound she sustained in last week’s episode. Also meeting his maker in the bloody installment was the corrupt cop who helped orchestrate Opie’s behind-bars murder, as well as his wife who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Lastly, and most notably, was the death of Nero’s right-hand woman Carla, who took her life after coming to terms — in her own fatal way — with her half-brother’s budding relationship with Gemma.
Here, the late madam’s portrayer Wanda De Jesus speaks candidly with TVLine about Carla’s twisted sendoff and reveals what went on behind the cameras during that forced sex scene between the actress’ longtime real-life partner Jimmy Smits and Sons‘ leading lady Katey Sagal.
TVLINE | It’s sad to see Carla go so soon. She was fun.
Thanks. She came in for a reason and purpose — that triangle had to be formed, right? It was to stir the pot a little more between Nero and the club and Gemma.
TVLINE | What conversation, if any, did you have with Jimmy ahead of shooting that pseudo sex scene between Nero and Gemma.
It was pretty provocative, and that’s [creator] Kurt [Sutter]‘s mind. The beauty about that is that Jim and I have worked a lot of theater pieces [together], like Death and the Maiden after it was on Broadway — which is a gnarly little piece. So, we’ve done theater pieces where that challenge was there between the two actors in terms of trust… and in [doing so] we really got to develop our shorthand. There’s not much conversation that goes on. I’m an actor and so is he, so there’s a professionalism. The conversation is with yourself and what the writer is asking one to do, and in this case, what that would bring up in a character like Carla. It was pretty intense, those three days filming the sequences. By that time within the triangle — Katey, Jimmy and I — there was a trust. There was a trust from Day 1, but I think Katey was more nervous than we were. [Laughs]… I’ve been a fan of SOA since its inception; I understand the world, how Kurt works, the provocative nature of the show, the character development, the need to go to the shadow side of our psychology. I love that within Jax and all of the characters, that there is a light side and dark side… It’s interesting to look at disenfranchised people, the underbelly, and the choices that they make.
TVLINE | How and when did you find out the manner in which Carla would go out?
I got a heads up from Sutter saying that something was going to happen with Carla in the next episode [we shot], and it was going to be a really sad, kind of dramatic thing. I just went, ‘OK, here’s the ride.” [Laughs] I actually [found out] how it happened for the first time when I read the script, and I went, “Wow! Wow, Kurt.” [Laughs] I was titillated [by the fact that] this is where his mind can go. But also, at the same time, one thing that was challenging for me was Kurt asking me to go there. Actors use their interior life and you want to be present in the moment, going there internally. That doesn’t mean that you’ve lived it, but you find those places and try to hit those true notes. So, I was thinking, “Man, Kurt, you don’t play around. You want people to rip themselves open here.” [Laughs] I’m a theater actor originally, so I can hit the marks and say the lines, but I decided to live in this space for a couple of days. I was my privilege to do it for a show that I’m really rooting for — it’s so underrated! I think there’s a terrific mind in Sutter, in how big these characters are…
TVLINE | What did you think when you first read her death scene?
What I love that Kurt did for Carla — even though she went out a bloody mess — is that no matter what was said about her, he gave this character the power of choice. She made a choice. That was my attraction to the show: Kurt writes strong women… Carla looked this life in the eye, didn’t like what she saw and made a choice… Carla saw that there was no hope with this person that she loved so much… For her, it was Nero’s defense of Gemma, jumping out of bed, standing in front of the gun and actually hitting his chest where he had his surgery, that [helped her] make the choice. She loves him so much, she made the f–ing choice. ‘I’ll make it easy for you, I’m out.’
TVLINE | Carla also made an impact a few weeks ago with that major fight between herself, Tara and Gemma.
When Tara is hitting Carla with that cast, it’s her transformation. It’s Tara coming to the dark side. Something flipped in her. It wasn’t personal, it was just everything coming to a head. I love the fact that she was very much in control in that moment… For Carla, it was more about this Latina Titan going up against Gemma, another titan…. In shooting the thing, we had a blast. It was so much fun. I’ve worked on films where there’s been a lot of action sequences and I’ve made friends with stunt guys, and I’ve actually done one fight sequence in my career. But we had fun just working it out. I enjoy bringing that kind of intensity to all characters, but especially to this fight scene.
TVLINE | Did you make the choice to remove Carla’s earrings during the fight, or was that on the page?
No! That was me. You don’t know how many people were saying, ‘Do you really have to remove them?’ And I said, ‘Yes! Yes! I must remove my earrings.’ [Laughs]
TVLINE | It was absolutely essential in that moment!
Yeah! Haven’t you seen that happen before? I have, where women remove the earrings before they go in for the fight. I thought, this is a testament to all those… Had I had more time, I would have put my hair up with the scrunchie on my wrist. [Laughs]