If you’re a Sons of Anarchy fan who can’t stop talking about the performances Walton Goggins and Kim Coates delivered in that beautiful bedroom conversation between Venus and Tig in the Nov. 11 episode, you are not alone. Executive producer Paris Barclay, who directed “Faith and Despondency,” phoned EW Radio from Wales on Wednesday to rave about what he considers to be possibly the best performance by any two actors in the FX drama’s seven seasons. Listen to the clip below.
“There was really true love there, and when it was done, the crew just stopped and applauded them,” Barclay says. “The camera assistants were crying. People were just clapping because they brought something new to them, a new feeling: People hadn’t really experienced Tig in that way, as deeply serious and as honest and as direct as he was, and Venus really telling you how she became this way and what it’s like for her.” Sons is the fourth project Barclay has done with Goggins. They first met when Barclay directed him in the 1996 HBO movie The Cherokee Kid starring Sinbad. ”To see him from that movie,” Barclay says, “where he was a comic Western guy, to the depth that he was able to bring, even to the last moments when he was trying to get back his Venus voice. [Tig] says, ‘You put on that dress, and I want to go anywhere with you, just the way you are,’ and he lifts his spirits up and he sits up a little taller and he tries to get Venus’ voice back but it’s difficult—he’s just genius.”
As a director, Barclay had to know to just sit back and let it happen. “I can’t say anything. I can’t tell them, ‘This is great,’ because I don’t want them to be self-conscious about it. I can’t tell them, ‘Let’s do it again and make it…’ I just don’t want to give them a note. It is beautiful as it is. If I can just keep filming and then cut, and then let them know when it’s all done how brilliant it is, that’s the way I want to roll,” he says. “By staying out of the way of those two actors, they just really, really delivered.”
FX Networks CEO John Landgraf agreed: He sent Barclay, Goggins, and Coates an email after he first saw a cut of the episode. “It was just gushing about that scene,” Barclay says. “Just saying how proud he was to be on a network that can put something like that on, in the midst of all the mayhem that is Sons of Anarchy to actually go deeper and to find a way to talk about these characters.” Credit Kurt Sutter. “God bless him, a lot of people think he’s some sort of savage brut who uses the C-word on Twitter,” Barclay says. “And then he writes a scene like that, that is so deep and complex, and as I say in my acting class, has a great beginning, middle, and end that actors can play—it’s just awesome. This is why I love being involved with the show, because sometimes you just get things like this that are just incredible.”
Speaking to EW about the episode, Goggins said that while rehearsing that scene, he turned to Barclay as Venus and asked if he could shoot both actors at the same time. He also explained that he kept referring to Tig and Venus in the third person during our interview because he didn’t believe he and Coates were in that room—it was them. “I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it’s really true,” Barclay says. “They never really broke character. And we don’t like to shoot the actors at the same time, but they were so simpatico, we didn’t want to lose the moment. And so we did what we used to do [when I directed] In Treatment, which is we kept the cameras rolling on both of them at the same time. And there are fewer shots than normal in that, but it’s just fine because the performances are so, so delicious.”
The conversation turns to Venus and Tig at 2:00 in the clip below. But first, we get some fun behind-the-scenes scoop on that close-up of Jax (Charlie Hunnam) coming out of the storm cellar during SAMCRO’s ambush of Moses and his men at the Aryan Brotherhood compound.
Tune in every Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. ET to “News & Notes” on EW Radio (SiriusXM 105) for a Sons of Anarchy recap with hosts Julia Cunningham and Mario Correa and EW’s Mandi Bierly.