When Tommy Flanagan shot the pilot for FX’s “Sons of Anarchy,” he had no idea it would become the network’s highest-rated series ever.
“Putting such a great bunch of guys together … We had seven years of a lot of fun. A lot of fun,” said Flanagan, who played Filip "Chibs" Telford in the motorcycle drama that ended its seven-season run in December.
Flanagan, who also appeared in “Gladiator” and “Braveheart,” comes to Baltimore tonight to participate in a Harley Davidson giveaway at Maryland Live Casino. Ahead of the event, the Scottish actor called to catch up about the so-called golden age of TV, his DJ days and upcoming projects.
Although “Sons of Anarchy” was so highly rated, some people would still consider it a cult show. Do you agree with that assessment?
Yes. It’s such a mass following of this show; people just seem to be drawn to this show. I genuinely believe not just because of Kurt [Sutter]’s writing but because we were such good friends, because we became that real brotherhood, I think it showed on screen. … It was like a real family I’d say, from cast to crew, and it’s fricking wonderful. I miss it every day.
Popular dramas like “Sons of Anarchy” and “Breaking Bad” seem to have a really communal element to them, a shared experience of people gathering to watch them or discussing them online. Do you think that affects how people receive the show?
I truly believe that everyone wants to be part of something, whether it’s a brotherhood or sisterhood or whatever organization – especially the Armed Forces and the guys who serve. Those guys who serve, they’re incredible. They love this show because of the brotherhood and the family. I think that’s what tied the whole show together — the reality and the friendships and the brotherhood, and crazy Kurt and his mad writing.
What was the adjustment period like after the series ended? That seems like a lot of time and emotional investment.
Seven years, same guys. Oh my god, yeah, to me personally it was a huge adjustment. I’m so used to getting up at 4 a.m. and jumping on a motorcycle and riding to whatever location and listening to whatever music and coming home to my family … it was great, it was just this routine that all of a sudden, you’re not doing anymore. You’re lost for a second. But it’s all good now.
You often hear critics say we’re in the golden age of TV. As someone who has worked in TV and film, what do you think TV is able to accomplish that's more difficult in film?
I think if you follow a TV show you feel part of something. You feel part of the story and the characters and you follow them. But you go see a movie and it’s bang, blast, whatever, and you go home. With a TV show, “Sons of Anarchy” of course, if I was watching I would feel I was part of that family.
You used to be a DJ at raves in Europe. How did you make the transition into acting? Is music still a part of your life?
Music is my love and always will be. It was just by chance my friend Robert Carlyle, a very famous Scottish actor, he had a theater company and asked me to join it and I did. We did a beautiful four years. And then Mr. Mel [Gibson] came to town and I did “Braveheart” and here I am.
Are you a biker?
I ride every day. I always ride. I ride all the time. I cannot drive a car into Los Angeles. I would literally go f-----g insane, or more insane.
What else is in the works for you?
I’m doing a movie with Sharon Stone called “Running Wild,” [with] Dorian Brown and Jason Lewis. It’s about these wild mustangs and because of the drought they’re starving to death and there’s no water and it’s basically a story of these convicts trying to save these mustangs and rehab them and train them. … I’m jumping from the steel hogs to the real horse.
INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED