When FX's Sons of Anarchy rode onto screens in 2008, it introduced the world to biker gang SAMCRO. This gang ruled the highways from their base in Charming, California. They often engaged in numerous illegal activities.
Created by The Shield writer Kurt Sutter, the series lasted seven epic seasons. By the time the show drove off into the sunset, it was pulling in an average of over 10 million viewers. This wasn't bad going considering it had started with just over 2 million.
In fact, it became so popular that spin-off Mayans M.C. is due to continue SOA's legacy when it premieres later this year.
Often described as "Hamlet on wheels," SOA followed the tragic story of Jackson "Jax" Teller, as he tried to find his place in the club. This was made more complex with his father's legacy, a deceitful father-in-law, and Jax's very complicated relationship with his mother.
Characters would regularly betray each other and allegiances would shift from one moment to the next, often with very dire consequences for all parties. By the end of the series, many of the main characters had tragically passed away. Overall, it was heavy, heavy stuff.
Many fans have wondered what it was like on set-- was it as serious?
These behind-the-scenes photos show that behind the cameras, the stars weren't exactly the biker hard men they portrayed on the show. They actually had fun on set, goofing off and often laughing.
After all, with the show going to some very, very dark places, it was best for the cast to unwind when the cameras weren't rolling.
Here are the 20 Behind-The-Scenes Photos That Completely Change Sons Of Anarchy.
20 Kurt Sutter busy behind the camera
Sons of Anarchy showrunner Kurt Sutter conceived the show, wrote most of the episodes, and even guest starred as incarcerated club member Otto Delaney.
He also directed the final episode of every season.
When it debuted in 2008, the show averaged 2.8 million viewers. When the seventh and final season premiered in 2014, it was pulling in over 10 million viewers. It was by far FX's biggest hit.
It's no wonder that Sutter was given such a free hand to fulfil his vision of "Hamlet on wheels" to the bitter end.
Rumor is that alongside upcoming spin-off Mayans M.C., Sutter is planning a prequel that would follow Jax Teller's father John.
Hopefully it won't tarnish SAMCRO's legacy.
19 Unser's Dance
One thing you'd never say about Sons of Anarchy is that it's light viewing. Tragic, serious and sometimes a bit too macho for its own good, definitely. Light entertainment? Not so much.
However, that didn't stop the cast from having a good time on set.
In this behind-the-scenes photo, Sheriff Unser actor Dayton Callie shows off his dance moves in front of an enthused Katey Sagal.
Well, something's got to take your mind of the relentless betrayals and double crosses.
Thankfully, there was never actually an episode where SAMCRO broke out into song and dance, although the show could have been a tragic opera.
18 The cast hanging out
It must be tough to be an actor on set. Long breaks between filming while you wait for the shot to be set up correctly must be boring.
Usually, actors make do with their well-stocked trailers. Well, not Charlie Hunnam. Here, he takes a well-earned break from playing Jax Teller by hanging out with the rest of the cast on his Harley.
Who can blame him? Playing Teller must have been tiring. On top of being the leader of an outlaw motorcycle club, there's also the deeply odd family relationships to contend with.
However, to be honest, it's not like the Sons have never been the most sensible of road users. An example of this can be found when Teller takes his hands off the handlebars and plays chicken with a truck in the show's final episode.
17 Unser 'arresting' Chibs
Chief of Police Unser was never the most effective of law enforcement officials. Turning a somewhat blind eye to SAMCRO's activities, he saw the club as a benefit to the town of Charming, as they often kept away even less desirable elements.
During the show's seven seasons, he becomes increasingly entangled in the dealings of SAMCRO and the Teller family.
He is even complicit in the Sons taking out ATF agent June Stahl and their Northern Irish nemesis Jimmy O'Phalen.
In this behind-the-scenes picture, Dayton Callie, who plays Unser, is performing a "citizen's arrest" on fellow actor Tommy Flanagan. If only Unser had taken a firmer hand with SAMCRO, the show might not have all ended in tragedy.
16 Jax's twin
If it had ever been necessary to recast the role of Jackson "Jax" Teller in Sons of Anarchy, then the producers wouldn't have had to look much further than Charlie Hunnam's stunt double.
The man is the spitting image of Hunnam, right down to the blond hair and beard.
In this season seven throw down with Nero (Jimmy Smits), Hunnam's stunt double offers the actor some top pugilistic tips before filming the fight.
While stunt doubles were used on SOA, most of the actors performed the majority of their own stunts and rode their own Harleys.
For the show's final season, stunts were coordinated by none other than Eric Norris, son of '80s martial arts superstar Chuck Norris.
15 Tig Getting 'inked'
Part of the appeal of Sons of Anarchy is just how real the characters look -- from the small details like Jax wearing Nike's instead of biker boots for comfort to the bikes they ride.
Also, of course, no biker would be complete without being covered in tattoos.
Of course, producers didn't expect actors to have permanent tattoos put on their bodies just for the show, so fake, temporary tattoos were used.
Still, spending time in make-up having fake tattoos applied each day was a time-consuming business.
However, some actors actually enjoyed the process. For example, Charlie Hunnam was so taken by Jax's tombstone memorial tattoo that he seriously considered having it permanently inked on his body. His girlfriend wisely talked him out off the idea.
14 A biker's diet
The biker diet is red meat and beer, right? Well, not for Charlie Hunnam.
The actor who plays Jackson "Jax" Teller instead relies on a healthy diet of vegetables, fruit, and lean proteins to keep his body looking lean.
In this shot, we can see Hunnam emerging from the catering truck with a mountain of salad chow down on.
Food has always had an important role in SOA. In the first season, club matriarch Gemma invites the gang to her house for a family dinner. This joyous scene is replicated in the second season, when Gemma hosts another meal.
However, this time the meal ends in acrimony and recrimination, as relationships in the club, particularly Clay and Jax's, boil over.
13 Charlie Hunnam on his chopper in real life
A condition of the show was that all the actors hired as members of SAMCRO had to learn how to ride a Harley Davidson.
Some already knew how to, like Kim Coates (Tig) and David Lebrava (Happy), while others had to learn. Charlie Hunnam was one of the ones who had to learn.
After all, it wouldn't do for SAMCROs leader to look uncomfortable on his ride. By all reports, Hunnam went from novice to pro in no time.
However, eschewing the leather vest and white Nikes of his onscreen alter ego, Hunnam seems like an entirely different person riding his bike.
On set reports state that Clay Morrow actor Ron Perlman didn't quite take to riding his bike at first.
12 Kurt Sutter with his wife Katey Sagal
On screen, Katey Sagal's character Gemma is the matriarch of the Teller family. Ruthless, determined, and with a warped sense of loyalty, the "old lady" will stop at nothing to protect her extended family.
It was the role of the lifetime for Sagal, nabbing her a Golden Globe and leaving the memory of her role as Peggy in Married with Children firmly in the dust.
What many fans may not know is that series creator Kurt Sutter is also Sagal's husband.
The happily married couple met in a coffee shop and tied the knot a few years later. Sagal also appeared in Sutter's ill-fated follow-up to Sons of Anarchy, The Bastard Executioner, as Annora of the Alders.
11 Sons of the spa
SAMCRO was involved in several business enterprises that might be described as "non-traditional"throughout the shows run. This included arms dealing and offering protection services, not to mention taking out anyone who got in their way.
You can now add running a spa to the list. This shot comes from a video shown at Comic-Con.
In the video, Hunnam is getting a massage from Mark Boone-Junior, while Tommy Flanagan fans him and Kim Coates serves him Perrier.
Charlie Hunnam apologizes for missing the show's panel Comic-Con panel quipping, "I hate to miss Comic-Con on the final season of the show, but for the future and safety of America, my presence is required elsewhere."
10 Beardless Opie
One thing that Harry "Opie" Winston was known for was his beard. There were some notable beards on the show, including Mark Boone Junior's epic entry, but Opie's was a thing of beauty.
Combined with his height and long hair, it gave the character a gentle giant / wild man vibe, even when he was commuting heinous acts for SAMCRO.
In this behind-the-scenes picture, actor Ryan Hurst is getting an overdue shave from Charlie Hunnam and some of the other cast members.
Without the beard, the actor is practically unrecognizable.
Fresh faced and smiling, the man does not look like the morose biker. In fact, so powerful was the beard that Hurst grew it back for his role in Outsiders.
9 Charlie Hunnam playing basketball
Sports wasn't exactly high on SAMCRO's agenda. Sure, there was the odd fixed boxing match and the clubhouse had a pool table to enjoy during the downtime between substance runs and arms dealing, but it's hard to imagine club members chilling out by playing some basketball.
Being an actor on set is a different matter. There's plenty of time for a little b-ball, as Charlie Hunnam demonstrates in this photo.
Being British, the actor has said that he grew up playing rugby. It's difficult to know from one picture if any of the other actors played basketball on set.
Perhaps in a Mayans vs. SAMCRO match up, Ron Perlman would have dictated play as the centre, Kim Coates would play point guard, and Opie would be the power forward.
8 Happy and Tig posing for the camera
It has been said that fan favourite Happy Lowman (David Labrava) was the only character that made Tig (Kim Coates) seem normal.
Specializing in "taking people" out, Lowman was the go-to SAMCRO member for any dirty work that was needed.
However, what many fans may not know is that Labrava is a Hells Angel in real life.
Originally hired as a technical consultant, Labrava asked SOA creator Kurt Sutter for a part on the show. Thus the legend of Happy Lowman was born.
Labrava even scored a writing credit on the episode "Hands". This surprisingly tender episode saw Jax and Tara discussing whether they should making a break for it until reality cruelly knocks at the door.
Unlike the other Sons, all of Labrava's tattoos are real. In fact, he once owned a tattoo parlour opposite the Oakland, California Hells Angel chapter.
7 Close-up of Chibs' scars
Club second in command Chibs Telford was always one of the more level-headed members of SAMCRO-- though he was never adverse to taking full part in all the illegal activity going on around him.
Chibs is known for his iconic face scars. However, these scars aren't make-up.
In real life, actor Tommy Flanagan was jumped over 20 years ago when he was a jobbing DJ. This resulted into scars that run across his cheeks.
Series creator Kurt Sutter even worked the scar into the plot, as Jimmy O'Phelan is said to have given Chibs a "Glasgow smile" in the past.
When shooting the pilot, Flanagan said that Sutter asked him if he could call the character Chibs. Not knowing what that meant, Flanagan agreed. It turns out Chibs means "knife" in Glaswegian street slang. Flanagan wasn't exactly impressed when he found out.
6 Heat On Set
In Sun Valley, California, where SOA is filmed, it gets really hot-- like 100 degrees Fahrenheit hot.
On set, crew members were hired just to hold umbrellas over the actors' heads to keep them out of the sun. After all, wearing full on motorcycle leathers in the scorching heat isn't going to be the most comfortable of experiences.
According to Kim Coates, crew members would pass out from the heat roughly once a week. Scottish-born Tommy Flanagan even had to be hospitalised and put on an IV drip after succumbing to dehydration.
It's no wonder Charlie Hunnam is moping is face in thisimage. A leather vest and thick jeans don't exactly scream beachwear.
5 The Original cast for the pilot
SOA fans know Emilio Riveria as Marcus Alvavez, founder of the Mayan Motorcycle Club and lead of its Oakland Chapter.
The Mayans and SAMCRO even teamed up together to move substances for a Mexican cartel. The club proved so popular that this Fall, spin-off show Mayans M.C. will premiere on FX.
This show will move the action south along the US/Mexican border, with Riveria reprising his role.
However, Riveria was almost a member of SAMCRO. In SOA's unseen pilot, Rivera played a character called Hawk who was a fully-fledged member of the club.
You can see him in this photo sitting on a stool, clean shaven and in non-Mayan attire.
When the pilot was reshot, Hawk was dropped and replaced with Tig Trager.
4 Jax and his feathered friend
When Sons of Anarchy wrapped up after seven seasons, it did so with a bang. Most of the characters lost of their lives and Jax had driven his Harley into the wrong end of an oncoming truck.
On his final ride, Jax was accompanied by crows, which were flying high above him. Sure, it's a worn-out metaphor, but Jax being a free bird is somehow fitting.
The character, and SAMCRO in general, were all about living outside of society's norms. The final shot of the show consists of crows eating bread on the highway as Jax's blood seeps into the frame, which is pretty grim.
However, it looks like actor Charlie Hunnam had a somewhat less wrought relationship with our feathered friends.
3 SAMCRO's preferred ride
Throughout the show, Jax rides a custom 2003 Harley Davison Dyna-Glide Super Glide Sport. For added authenticity, he also wears a pair of white Nike trainers. This is a detail actor Charlie Hunnam picked up when doing research for the role.
Clay and Opie also ride versions of the Glide Sport. The Glide Sport was one of the company's first custom bikes, combing the chassis of the Dyna Glide with the front-end of the company's Sportster.
The 1977 Conference edition of the bike is one of the rarest Harleys in existence, with only 228 ever being released.
Tig and Chibs ride Harley-Davidson Dyna Street Bobs, which suit their outlaw personalities. Piney's trike? Well, he rides a Harley-Davidson Electra Tri-Glide, which is perfect for carrying around his O2 canister.
2 Scott Glenn as Clay
Ron Perlman puts his stamp on the role of Clay Morrow. The role only furthered his career so much so that it's hard to imagine anyone else playing SAMCRO's duplicitous leader.
However, Perlman was brought into the fold late in the day and after the original pilot episode had been shot.
The original Clay was played by veteran character actor Scott Glenn. Glenn is famous for role in The Silence of the Lambs and as Stick in Netflix's Daredevil.
SOA producers felt that his quiet, intense style of acting wasn't quite right for the role of Morrow.
They needed someone a bit brasher and a bit more volatile, so they brought in Perlman and completely reshot the pilot episode.
1 Clay and Jax hanging out
It's been repeatedly said that Sons of Anarchy is based on Hamlet. Jax Teller is the great Danish prince and Clay Morrow plays devious uncle Claudius.
Like the play, SOA is predicated on Teller finding out the truth behind his father's passing and exacting revenge on his uncle, who has usurped his place.
Right until Jax takes his revenge, the relationship between the two men can best be described as somewhere between frosty and downright hostile.
However, in real-life, Ron Perlman and Charlie Hunnam have appeared in a few movies together. One is, of course, Pacific Rim, where Perlman cameoed as Hannibal Chu. The other is little seen 2012 comedy 3,2,1… Frankie Go Boom, where Perlman is virtually unrecognizable.
What do you think of these behind-the-scenes photos? Do you know of any other photos of the cast of Sons of Anarchy on set that completely change everything? Sound off in the comments!
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