Eksklusivt interview med Sons of Anarchy´s Walton Coggins (Venus Van Dam)

Walton Goggins er nok mest kendt for sin rolle i serien Justified, men i Sons Of Anarchy spiller han den transseksuelle escort Venus Van Dam. Og vi har fornøjelsen af at stille ham et par spørgsmål.

Q: How long is the makeup process for you for this?

A: Between three and a half to four hours. Yeah, it’s a really long day. You have all these incredible technicians here — makeup and the hair department for the obvious and then the prosthetic department and wardrobe. These guys deserve as much recognition to this character. They own it just as much as I do and Kurt does. They’re extremely talented. But for me preparation starts a good probably 10 days before I get here. I just start my process. I always start off scared, really insecure about pulling it off. And then I start with a facial. Then I get waxed and then I get a mani-pedi and then I shave my whole body. And then I shave my whole body again and then I shave it again. It starts with a trip to the pharmacy to pick out the right things and the right kind of perfume. And it’s a process, man. I spent more money to look this way than my wife does. She gets pissed off because I buy really good shit.

Q: Do you have more of an appreciation now of what your wife has to do?

A: Oh my God, not just my wife, like all of my friends that are girls, that are women. It takes a lot just to maintain it. And I feel the first time I did this was for a movie audition, when I was in my mid-twenties, maybe 23-24. It was to play a transgender who was a junkie. It took me a week to get ready to meet the director. I don’t look like a junkie and I didn’t get the role. But it was the process going through it and hanging out with transgenders in the gay community in West Hollywood back in the early nineties. When I was out on the street in my outfit, I felt the way that women are looked as objects. I mean, it was flattering. It was like, wow I feel really important all of a sudden in North Hollywood where this audition is. I was being looked at everywhere I went from a distance. People didn’t know I was a man, like roofers doing a building. So I feel like my wife can no longer say I haven’t walked a mile in her shoes, I feel like I have doing this experience.


Q: Was that the hardest thing, walking in the shoes, because that’s pretty difficult?

A: God, you know, that is difficult. Even the boots that I had on yesterday, my calves were just killing me. I have so much respect for my mother wearing high heels every day for 25 years in her professional career. But no, the hardest part really for me is not going through the process. Although it’s a little awkward and uncomfortable throughout the day because it’s so hot in Los Angeles this time of year. But it’s mental. The hardest part for me is the extreme insecurity that I felt and feel as recent as yesterday getting into her and not wanted to do a disservice to this community and trying to do it in a way that is extremely respectful. I wanted to live up to that. And I know Kurt is the same way. I know he has the same fears. We talk about it. Once we do it and we got it, then it’s like you just put your best foot forward and know that you’re coming from a good place and let the chips fall where they may.

Q: When it was announced you were coming back to the last season, I thought it generated an unexpectedly large amount of vibes. Was there a point where you guys become aware that Venus had kind of broken out as a character perhaps unexpectedly with the Sons of Anarchy audience ’cause I feel like the return in the final season just kind of coming, they’re reading it like the return of a much larger — it’s an interesting reaction to this show and its constituency to be really buzzed about this character like it would almost be wrong to embark on the final season without somehow seeing her story out along with everybody else’s story.

A: Thank you. I’m sure Kurt will be grinning from ear to ear. When we first did this, the way that it kind of came about was so organic. I’ve known Kurt for 13 years. He was one of the most important writers on The Shield. So he’s like a brother to me. The way this came about, it’s a funny story. It’s kind of been printed before. But it stemmed around Kurt saying, you know, Walton and Chiklis could never be on the show because people couldn’t accept them for anyone other than their characters on the The Shield in this universe. And I said, well I don’t want to do your show and if I did do it, I wanna be a transgender. A year later he said, were you serious? I said about what? And he said about being a transgender. I asked him, did you write it? He said, yeah. He sent the pages and it was like, fuckin’ yeah. I said I’m leaving like Quentin Tarantino and putting on a dyke now. And it’s a curious way to answer your question. I was hopeful. I mean I have an idea of what the audience of this show is. It’s so dissimilar than The Shield and there is crossover with Justified. But it’s much bigger. You know, it’s a huge show. I was really worried about the reaction from the audience. And I think one of the most gratifying things of my entire career in 20 years, all the directors and the people that I’ve worked with, the actors that I’ve worked with, almost pale in comparison to the love and acceptance that this audience has had for this character. I don’t feel like for the vast majority of this audience, I don’t know exactly who they are, but I know of it doesn’t fly over America and in other countries, too. The conservative parts of this country that they are exposed to the LGBT community the way that we are in larger urban areas. And if it stands on the shoulders that kind of came before and makes it a little bit easier not to see people as a man or a woman, but just as a human being. You know, to look past all of it, then I feel like we’ve done our job and thankfully, that has been the response, you know. And I get it first hand on the street all the time. And I just got back from doing this movie in New Orleans and there are people from men, women, conservative, liberal, Hispanic, black, white, Chinese, you name it that really embraced her. And that just means the world to me and I know it means the world to Kurt.

Q: What about within the fragment of the show, the notion that the transsexual woman who walks into this space when we first met her to some extent they were a little bit, what the fuck is this? But now she’s sort of —

A: [OVERLAP] Yeah, well that’s kind of the point.

Q: — and it’s kind of won their affection in a very interesting and unexpected way.

A: And it deals with the preconceived kind of notion, the stereotyping of a human being. You’re right. Within the cast of the show, within these cast of fictional characters. That’s kind of been the journey, winning them over and if she can win them over, well then she can win the audience over, can’t she? I mean that’s kind of the whole point and this is arguably if not the most testosterone driven show on television really. Breaking Bad, you have The Shield, you have The Sopranos, you have, you know, these shows. But right now on the air these are bikers, man. You know, these mothers are tough motherfuckers and for them to embrace her I think says a lot about them. I mean the episode I did last year with Katie, with Gemma, and the way that she treated Venus in the first episode in the beginning when she first met her to the end of that conversation to the second episode, her just saying whatever you need, baby, I’m here for you. I got you. It just speaks volumes about who these people are and how far they’ve come in their ability to love someone that’s not only outside of their club, but outside of their framework for normalcy. Do you know what I’m saying? And, yeah.

Sons of Anarchy

Q: I know you probably can’t talk about much about what’s happening this season, but then last season there was a heated love affair between Venus and Tig. In terms of what you’ve just said about acceptance and her being just seen as a normal character, how do you think that fits with Tig because she has a liking for the unusual? Is that a natural fit to those two?

A: Well, I think it would be a natural fit certainly. The first time that we did it, there was a fair amount of comedy involved and there was some great one liners and you’re going to do some ribbing and this and that in the boys’ locker room really. But I think as it progresses into the season and I really don’t know what happens with her or with them going forward, but I do know what happens up to this point that if there is chemistry and there’s always been chemistry, it will move from a perverse kind of fascination, a fetish,if you will, to a genuine respect for another person who you just see as a person who is a great listener and who is a deep soulful and a good person that you can actually be yourself around. And God knows if you’re gay, you’re gay, who gives a shit. Like there are great listeners that are gay and there are not great listeners that are gay. There are great listeners that are heterosexual and not. Who gives a shit about sexuality anymore? It’s about the quality of the human being that you’re with. And I think that if that is the case for Tig and for Venus, but really for Tig, then that just says so much about him. And then I look at this season for me kind of coming back to go back to your question for me as an actor, it’s like I have done what I wanted to do with Venus. Really, I wanted to do it and Kurt wanted to do it the first season and it was accepted or celebrated — to the extent that it was celebrated. It was very important for me and for Kurt for her to come back because we did not want her to just be looked at and laughed — people were laughing with her, people weren’t laughing at her. But we wanted to show the other side of her and that she’s a three dimensional human being and I feel like we accomplished that last season. I certainly felt that as an artist and I was done. Like that was like, I’m good. It would have felt painful to me had we not done that. So for me this season the way that I see it, it’s not coming from my ego. Like I’m here to service these guys and whatever way that that story can be told. If I’m here to service Tig then I wanna be there for them and be there for my friend, for Kurt. I mean it’s seven seasons and people don’t get that opportunity that often. And it’s a real honor to be a part of it.

Q: He’s known you for so long. How could he come up with this?

A: You know, I mean like we always said on The Shield like all those writers needed to spend some time on a couch. But no more than Kurt Sutter, you know. I mean he’s an artist and he just is a very — what’s the word I’m looking for — an anomaly and a feral kind of a femoral personality in the best way. He’s just a savant, you know. And it’s what I look for in friendships and certainly what I look for in writers. I personally have a lot of friends that are married to a writer. I’m very, very attracted to writers. And he’s just one of the best, you know. He just sees the world in a very different light. I can’t wait to see what Kurt does next, what he does after this. I think it will be very different than what he’s done with this show.

SONS OF ANARCHY -- Pictured: Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller. CR: James Minchin/FX

Q: Where would you like to see this character go? I’m sure you don’t know that far in advance, but where would you like to go with this?

A: You know, it’s funny, man, because she really means a lot to me. I can’t tell you how happy — I wonder how other actors feel about this. I’ve never really talked to anyone about this. But for me and I’ve said this before, I was so grateful that Shane Vendrell died,my character on the shield. I was so happy. It was tough for the me the way that it happened, but I was really happy because I don’t have to think about what his life is like in the world. And for me as a person I think I would spend a lot of time thinking about what’s he fuckin’ doing today? Like really, how old is his son now. Like I don’t have to think about any of those things. But I hope that he does, you know, for me selfishly as an actor because I fuckin’ love him and I don’t wanna think about him in the world ’cause it’ll take up too much of my mental space. But Venus, I just hope she lives, you know, really. I hope that she lives. She’s touched a different — a really a place in me that I just didn’t know existed. You know, she’s like allowed me to see the world through a set of glasses or a world view, she’s allowed me to see the world through her point of view that’s forever changed me, man. I get emotional thinking about it. She’s just a — in some ways she is the most at peace self-realized person I have ever played, more so than Boyd, more so than Shane, more so than any role I’ve ever done in any movie. She is here and present and I think that the fact that she’s transgender is just fuckin’ awesome. So I hope she lives. Maybe that’s a good place to stop.

Sons of Anarchy - Charlie

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