Ten years ago, Kurt Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy premiered on FX and would go on to be a critical and cultural hit. The show followed the members of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original (SAMCRO) as they grapple with the consequences of their often-violent decisions.
The show stars Charlie Hunam as Jax Teller, who’s father started the original club, and his quest to protect his friends and family and lead SAMCRO.
The cast was rounded out by great actors, such as Ron Perlman, Katey Sagal, Drea de Matteo, and others, making for an experienced cast that would elevate the show to success.
Described as Hamlet on Motorcycles, Kurt Sutter has admitted that the show owes its inspiration to Shakespeare. It is probably the most popular adaption of Hamlet since The Lion King.
It has almost been 10 years since the first episode aired on September 3, 2008. A lot has happened for many of the stars since they first rode on to the small screen.
Some careers have risen, while others haven’t changed at all. Others still are sadly no longer with us. It's time to see where they are now and how much they have changed since their first appearance in their first episode.
Here is What The Cast Of Sons Of Anarchy Looked Like In The First Episode Vs Now.
17 Maggie Siff (Tara Knowles)
If Jax is akin to Michael Corleone, then Tara Knowles is his Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone. She is an unfortunate victim caught up in the cross fire of Jax and his family’s disastrous choices.
Maggie Siff played the Dr. Tara Knowles, whose entire life was ruined because of her love of Jax. Tara was strong woman whose moral compass fluctuates as the show goes on... until she finally meets her demise at the hands of her mother-in-law. In-laws, right?
During her time as Tara, Siff was on another hit television series at AMC, Mad Men. Her portrayal as Rachel Menken only appeared in nine episodes, but her performance was strong enough that she was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award for her work on the period piece show.
For her work as Tara on Sons of Anarchy, Siff was nominated twice for Critics Choice awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
A lot has happened for Maggie Siff since she left the show.
She got married in in 2012, had a child in 2014, and landed a leading role in Showtime’s Billions, starring alongside Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis. Now in her forties, Siff shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
16 Ryan Hurst (Opie Winston)
Harry “Opie” Winston has perhaps the most dramatic change of appearance in the show. With his short hair and beard, the first time we see Opie, he looks so sweet and kind, but the end of his arc, he looks like a nightmare in a dark alley.
Opie is the best friend and loyal foot solider of Jax. This eventually gets his life taken away from him, which is something happens to most people who are close to Jax. This show could give Game of Thrones a run for its money.
At 41, the gray in Hurst’s beard makes him look older than he actually is. At 6’4”, Hurst is an imposing figure, which was helpful for his next starring role as an enforcer in the short-lived Outsider series on WGN.
After Sons of Anarchy, Hurst also had recurring roles in King & Maxwell and Bate’s Motel.
Long before Hurst was fighting the Mayans or other rival gangs, he fought racism in football pads. Remember the Titans provided Hurst with his first big and most memorable role, as Linebacker Gerry Bertier.
However, regardless of whether he is playing a football player who is learning how to fight racism or a biker who is pledging his life to his leather clad brothers, Hurst always seems to win the heart of the audience.
15 Charlie Hunam (Jax Teller)
If Ron Perlman was the most recognizable star at the beginning of the show, Charlie Hunam would definitely become the biggest at the end of the series.
The English actor started out in the show as a tough but naïve member of the Ron Perlman-led biker gang, with his boyish good looks and hopeful attitude.
Hunam played Jax Teller, the show’s protagonist, and eventual leader of the gang. Similar to Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Jax cannot escape the family business and it eventually leads to his own demise.
Sons of Anarchy premiered when Hunam was 28. With his long blond hair, two-week-old scruff, and youthful looks, he could have been a stand in for Kurt Cobain.
Ten years and a lot of whey and creatine later, Hunam has become somewhat of a heart throb, being named most attractive man alive in 2015’s VMAN Magazine.
After the show catapulted Hunam in to the limelight, he has starred in several big budget movies, the most successful being Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim.
He also stared in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which failed to ignite a franchise, and the critically successful biopic, The Lost City of Z.
Currently, Hunam has two movies slated for release in 2019: A Million Little Pieces and Triple Frontier.
14 Dendrie Taylor (Luann Delaney)
Before playing the ill-fated Luann Delaney, Dendrie Taylor’s biggest credit was a short stint on the long running soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful and a minor role in the academy award winning movie The Fighter.
In a way, Luann is one of the first casualties of the show that makes an impact.
Before her husband, Otto Delaney, went to prison, Luann ran her own adult company with him. Despite being in jail, Otto was fiercely loyal to her.
Although, very devoted, Luann was not as loyal. After the gang went in to business with Luann, Bobby discovered that she was skimming some money off the top for herself. In order to keep him quite, she slept with him.
Later, Luann is taken out by a rival adult business, ending her short-lived arc and destroying Otto, as he is left alone in the world. This would complicate Otto’s relationship with the gang. However, in the end, the boys deliver some justice to the person who ended Luann’s life, giving Otto some closure.
After leaving the show, Taylor went on to have a small part in HBO’s True Blood in 2011.
Her next big role wouldn’t come till 2017, though, when she would be a series regular in Netflix’s mockumentary series American Vandal.
13 Katey Sagal (Gemma Teller Morrow)
Katey Sagal has had a long and successful television career. Years before she became the cold-blooded den mother of SAMCRO, she starred as Peggy Bundy on the wildly successful, Married… with Children.
Fun, conniving, pretty, and lazy, her portrayal of Peggy Bundy earned her four Golden Globe nominations. She also starred on 8 Simple Rules for three seasons and on Futurama, voicing Leela, for seven.
However, it wasn’t until Sagal starred as the complex and layered Geena Teller Morrow that she earned her first Golden Globe for Best Actress.
Perhaps one of the reasons why Sagal was able to take ownership of her character was because she has been around since its inception.
Sagal Married Sons of Anarchy creator and showrunner Kurt Sutter in 2004. This means that she not only got to witness the show's creation, but she also got to participate in it with her husband.
Now in her mid-sixties, Sagal has hardly slowed down. Since the end of Sons of Anarchy, she has gone on to star in A to Z and The Bastard Executioner (also created by Kurt Sutter), both of which have since been canceled.
Sagal currently has a role on in CBS’ Superior Donuts as Officer Randy DeLuca. It is currently in its second season.
12 Jimmy Smits (Nero Padilla)
Nero was not in the first episode of the show, but his significance to show warranted him a spot on this list.
Before Jimmy Smits joined the cast as the loyal procurer in season 5, Smits had already earned an Emmy, Screen Actor’s Guild award, and Golden Globe.
Besides, Katy Sagal, Smits is the most prolific and season television actor on the show. His major television credits include leading roles in L.A. Law, NYPD Blue, The West Wing, Dexter, 24: Legacy, and How to Get Away with Murder.
Smits brought a contemplative complexity to his portrayal of Nero, making him one of the most interesting allies to SMACRO, and one of the few characters to come out on top at the close of the show.
Despite Jax never completely trusting him, Nero became very loyal mainly do to his romantic relation ship with Gemma.
After the show, Smit has continued working mainly in television, but you may have also recognized him from 2017’s Rouge One: A Star Wars Story, where he reprised his role from the prequels as Senator Bail Organa, the adoptive father of Princess Leia.
At 62, Jimmy Smit is not only one of the hardest working actors from the show, but also one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood.
11 Dayton Callie (Wayne Unser)
Before he was a sheriff in Sons of Anarchy, Dayton Callie was, and still is, best known as Charlie Utter, a deputy in HBO’s Deadwood.
Dayton Callie has had a pretty successful career in, being a series regular in three different shows in the last 15 years, the third being Fear the Walking Dead.
Although he has a long career acting in every genre, Callie’s longest running role was as Sheriff Wayne Unser of Charming, California. As one of the many good people sucked into the tangled web of disaster that Clay and Jax spun, Wayne was one of the few characters who actually had a strong moral compass.
Being a veteran of the Vietnam War, Callie took the time to go on two USO tours during the run of the series.
He was accompanied by Ron Perlman, Theo Rossi, Kim Coates, and Mark Boone Junior, and visited with thousands of soldiers and their families. “It was an amazing experience.” Callie said, “I can’t wait to work with the USO again and to continue to show my support for our men and women in uniform.”
At 72, Callie is still working hard and was the third season’s antagonist in AMC’s second zombie drama, Fear the Walking Dead.
10 Mark Boone Junior (Bobby Munson)
Bobby “Elvis” Munson was the heart and soul of SAMCRO. His passing in the series is certainly one of the most tragic, as he was a fan-favorite and beloved member of the gang.
Bobby held the group together through some of their toughest times and was seen as one of the most rational members. Mark Boone Junior brought a gruff tenderness to the role, balancing his loyalty and moral compass in the show.
Boone has been had a prolific career since his start in in 1983. Although, he has done a lot of work before Sons of Anarchy, he was primarily recognized for his roles in Christopher Nolan’s Memento and Batman Begins.
Since his departure form the show, Boone does not have any major credits. His biggest role was as Patrick "Pat" Brown on FOX’s The Last Man on Earth for four episodes.
Although, Boone loved the show, leaving it wasn’t too difficult. “Truthfully, it's not that hard," he stated. "As sad as it may be to not do this job... seven years is a long, long time in the life of an actor to play one part.”
Now in his 60s, Boone’s hair and beard have gone grey but he still maintains his impressive mane, which has become his signature look.
9 Kim Coates (Alex "Tig" Trager)
Tig Trager is a wild character. He’s violent, passionate, an extreme dog lover, and possibly the most progressive member of the gang due to his relationship with Venus Van Dam, a transgender woman.
Amongst the many shocking and tragic moments in the show, Tig being forced to watch his daughter burn is high on the list. Speaking of his role, Kim Coates said, “It will have a special place in my heart as an actor forever.”
For most of the show, Coates sported a goatee and full head of curly black hair. It’s almost jarring to see him in the first episode clean shaven with short hair. Since the show, Coates has had a more of a distinguished, aged look.
However, he has let the curls and facial hair grow back, as he prepares to go back to his roots.
After 30 years, Coates is returning to the stage to perform the lead role in Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem at Toronto's Streetcar Crowsnest theatre. As a classical trained actor, Coates first major roles were on stage.
Besides his upcoming stage work, Coates has worked on several movies and TV shows. He even starred as the titular character in 2016’s Officer Downe.
8 Tommy Flanagan (Filip "Chibs" Telford)
In the final days of Jax Teller, Chibs Telford, the ex-IRA Scottish member of the gang, became president of SAMCRO. Though he's even-tempered and caring, he's always willing to do what has to be done to protect SAMCRO. He is a perfect choice to lead the dysfunctional biker family.
Due to his signature scars, Tommy Flanagan is hard to miss in any role that he plays. A couple decades back in Scotland, Flanagan fought off some robbers who got the upper hand on him.
They stabbed in the face and left him with a Glasgow Smile, a cut from the corner of the mouth to the ear, emulating a “smile.” However, despite his nickname on the show, Flanagan refuses to let his scars define him.
Before he donned the biker leather, you may have recognized him in movies such as Braveheart, Sin City, or Gladiator.
Like many in the show, Flanagan is a character actor who has had a lot of movie and television credits but few leading roles. Chibs might be his defining role but that doesn’t stop Flanagan from chasing his next cinematic adventure.
Since his time as Chibs, his biggest role to date, Flanagan hasn’t stopped working and has had roles in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Gotham, and Revenge.
7 Theo Rossi (Juan Carlos "Juice" Ortiz)
Theo Rossi’s portrayal of Juice Ortiz probably wouldn’t fly in todays political climate. Rossi is primarily Italian and played the half-black member of the gang.
Juice’s storyline was a source of controversy since SAMCRO doesn’t allow black members, which forced Juice to hide his racial identity. Eventually going on to betray the gang for all the hazing and mistreatment that he received, Juice remains one of the more tragic figures in the series.
After leaving the show, Rossi landed a staring role in Netflix’s Luke Cage as the calculating and manipulative Shades Alverez.
Rossi quickly became a fan-favorite as the Marvel villain, as Shades has a cool demeanor and is always in control. It is one of the things that attracted him to the role after playing Juice.
"Where someone like Juice was kind of side-stepping and moving backwards and everything was happening to him, this is a guy [Shades] who is so incredibly intelligent and a giant chess player," Rossi stated.
"He's such an interesting character to take on because he's doing so much sometimes, and when you start to see it all come together as this giant story, you realize just how smart and calculating he's been this entire time," he said.
Even though Rossi loved his time as Juice, he seems to be having a blast being a baddie in the MCU.
6 Kurt Sutter (Otto Delaney)
Otto Delaney probably had one of the darkest story arcs in the show, never having a moment of peace or relief. Incarcerated before the start of the show, Otto was the inside man for SAMCRO, conducting business in Stockton State Prison.
All his loyalty got him was the passing of his wife, the loss of his vision, and a horrible last few weeks. To play Otto required someone who would be committed and comfortable with some disturbing scenes, and who better than showrunner and creator, Kurt Sutter?
Before creating Sons of Anarchy, Sutter’s other credits included writing for and directing episodes of The Shield. He moved his way up from staff writer to executive producer.
From there, he created the most iconic biker show in history.
Before the dust settled on Sons, though, Sutter was already hard at work on his next show, The Bastard Executioner.
The show only lasted one season but that hasn’t slowed Sutter down. He then went on to write his first feature film, Southpaw, which starred Jake Gyllenhaal.
Currently, Sutter is working on Sons of Anarchy spin-off, Mayans MC, for FX, which is set to premier sometime in 2018.
There have also been talks about a prequel series focusing on the original nine founding members of SAMCRO and how they came to be.
5 Drea de Matteo (Wendy Case)
As the ex-wife Jax and mother of Abel Teller, Wendy Case starts off as an unlikeable character. Her substance abuse leads to Abel having birth defects.
However, despite her many issues, Wendy begins to change her life and becomes not only a sympathetic character, but also a devoted mother. By the end of the show, she gains full custody of not her own son, Abel, but also of Thomas Teller II, Tara Knowle’s son.
Drea de Matteo is no stranger to playing complicated women involved in dangerous families. As talented actress, de Matteo earned an Emmy for her work as Adriana La Cerva on HBO’s The Sopranos.
However, early in her career, de Matteo starred in the short-lived sitcom Joey. She played the sister of the titular character in the Friends spin-off. She also had a leading role in season six of ABC’s hit show Desperate Housewives.
After the end of Sons of Anarchy, de Matteo worked on several shows in an episode here and there until she landed a supporting role on Shades of Blue starring Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta.
The show is currently about to go into its third season on NBC. With an already impressive list of credits, it will be exciting to see where she goes next.
4 Ron Perlman (Clarence "Clay" Morrow)
Before signing onto the show, Ron Perlman was perhaps the biggest star to come aboard. Fresh of his stint as the titular hero in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Perlman was at the peak of his career.
Joining SAMCRO as the aging leader was an easy fit. For a character as despicable as Clay Morrow, Perlman was able to bring a nuanced charm and intelligence to an otherwise despicable villain.
When he started on the show, Perlman was 58. Now he is almost in his 70s, though he doesn't look it.
Perlman has seeming looked the same for the past 30 years, sporting the same silver fox look since the mid '90s. So don’t be surprised that, except for a little age in the past decade, he basically looks the same.
A fair amount of Perlman’s work has been voice work and with prosthetics.
His most notable role at the beginning of his career was the sewer dwelling Vincent on the TV series Beauty and the Beast (1987–1990). This would prepare him for the hours prosthetics he would need to play Hellboy years later.
However, no one can deny the sheer talent and physicality that makes his portrayal as the fallen leader of the Sons of Anarchy one of Perlman’s greatest achievements.
3 Johnny Lewis (Kip "Half-Sack" Epps)
Half-Sack, whose name is derived from an injury he received in Afghanistan, is the first major character to pass away in to series.
His unexpected passing took audiences by surprise, and his “brothas” mourned his loss. However, more shocking and tragic than the on-screen loss is the real life passing of actor Johnny Lewis.
As an up and coming actor, Lewis was beginning to get bigger roles after his time on the show. Unfortunately, that all changed in 2011 when Lewis suffered a brain injury from a motorcycle accident.
From there, his life became a downward spiral.
Having suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), Lewis’ behavior became erratic and unpredictable. He became dependent on substances and alcohol, which only made his actions more dangerous.
After getting into a bar fight and breaking into a woman’s home, Lewis was incarcerated for several months.
After his release, his family had hoped that he would be able to get the treatment that he needed for his substance abuse and TBI issues. However, on September 26, 2012, Lewis' body was found in the drive way of his landlady's home, whom he had taken the life of that night.
Tweeting about Lewis's passing, Kurt Sutter wrote, "It was a tragic end for an extremely talented guy, who unfortunately had lost his way. I wish I could say that I was shocked by the events last night, but I was not."
He continued: "I am deeply sorry that an innocent life had to be thrown into his destructive path. Yes, it's day or [sic] mourning, but it's also a day of awareness and gratitude. Sadly, some of us carry the message by [passing away]."
2 David Labrava (Happy Lowman)
David Labrava’s career is similar to the late Ronald Lee Ermey, the drill sergeant in every movie. Hired as the technical adviser for Sons of Anarchy, Labrava joined the cast after he showed Kurt Sutter a script and asked for a chance to be on the show.
He not only became a series regular, but he also co-wrote season 4 episode "Hands", one of the most critically praised episodes. As a member of the Hell’s Angels, Labrava is the most authentic actor in the show.
Although he enjoys acting, Labrava’s main desire is to write and direct. “I’m definitely moving towards directing because I’m naturally a writer, and I think a good director edits, writes, and has acted a little bit. [Ron Perlman has] done a little bit of everything, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
As a regular contributor to 'Ol Skool Rodz magazine, and previolst writing for Horse Motorcycle, Labrava has an extensive writing history.
Currently, Labrava has sold two shows to FX and has written and directed is own movie.
The movie, Street Level, stars himself and fellow Sons of Anarchy alumni Marilyn Manson, Kristen Renton, Mark Boone Junior, and Danny Trejo.
Labrava currently lives in Oakland, California with his dog. When he isn’t filming, he runs his own tattoo parlor, Evil Ink Tattoo, or he is working on building choppers or hot rods.
1 William Lucking (Piney Winston)
Piney Winston was one of the original nine founding members of SAMCRO and father to Opie Winston. Despite his frail health, he had a commanding presence and was an extremely tough character.
Ultimately, his cynicism of Clay did not end well for him, but he made an impact whenever he was on screen. Played by veteran actor, William Lucking, Piney Winston seemed tailor made for him.
Lucking is no stranger to riding a bike. His first movie was Hell’s Belles in 1969, which was a biker exploitation film. From there, he played many roles as a biker or cowboy, but after a motorcycle accident in the '70s, he was apprehensive about getting back in the saddle.
When asked about being in a biker show and having to ride, Lucking said that he asked the producers, "‘How about if I ride a tricycle instead of a two-wheel motorcycle?’ It's harder to fall off a tricycle. They took it under advisement and put this guy's oxygen bottle on the back of it. That's how we did that. Because I don't have any interest of falling off another motorcycle and being laid up.”
Since his days as Piney, Lucking hasn’t done much work. Now in his late seventies, it looks like Lucking might be ready to hang up the leathers and enjoy retirement.
Are you surprised by how the cast of Sons of Anarchy has changed? Sound off in the comments!