Mo McRae discusses his role as the One Niner leader Tyler on Sons of Anarchy, with the new episode 'Ablation' airing Tuesday, October 30 at 10 PM ET on FX.
Sons of Anarchy fans have been taken on quite a ride already this season, with the death of a key character and a shocking, cross-dressing cameo from Justified's Walton Goggins. One of the new players in the mix this season is Tyler, the leader of the One-Niner gang, portrayed by Mo McRae.
As we saw in the "Small World" episode last week, Tyler was a part of a shaky truce between SAMCRO, the One Niners and the Cartel. Tyler also plays a key part in next week's episode "Ablation", airing Tuesday, October 30 at 10 PM ET on FX. I recently had the chance to speak with this up and coming young actor about his experiences in the fictional town of Charming, California. Here's what he had to say.
I know you were in the episode a few weeks ago with Walton Goggins. I know you appeared in an episode of The Shield awhile ago as well. I was curious if you were on the set with Walton at all, seeing him as Venus Van Dam?
Mo McRae No, I actually wasn't around for any of that stuff.
With the alliance that was formed in "Small World", it seemed a bit unsteady. I was wondering if you could tease how long that will last, between the One Niners, SAMCRO and everyone else?
Mo McRae Well, I think it may last a little while. Jax is kind of in bed with Pope (Harold Perrineau), who is pulling the strings and orchestrating the moves. Until Jax finds a way to negate his power, I think he's going to have to do what Pope wants him to do.
At the end of that episode, it's pretty clear that Eli (Rockmond Dunbar) is going to start going after SAMCRO. Do you think that will affect the One Niners at all? It seems like he's out for blood.
Mo McRae I think, because the Niners are connected so closely to SAMCRO, especially now with this new deal that's been put into place, any heat that SAMCRO takes, on any level, can end up involving me and the Niners.
Can you talk a bit about coming on board to play Tyler? I was wondering if you had kept in contact with (series creator) Kurt (Sutter) at all since that episode of The Shield years ago?
Mo McRae The whole thing kind of came together through the audition process. I didn't really have a relationship with Kurt. I had just worked with (producer/director) Paris Barclay on another pilot this year, that didn't go. I had just worked with Paris, who is one of the primary producers on Sons of Anarchy, so when I came in to audition for this particular role, it seemed to fit, and everything worked out.
Was there anything particular you wanted to bring to a character like Tyler? Was there anything you looked into specifically to get this character right?
Mo McRae You know, I really wanted to humanize him, and incorporate all the tools that Kurt Sutter gave me in the writing. Watching a friend get killed in front of me, which happened to the previous leader. Kind of being adjacent to Charlie Hunnam's character Jax, and watching all of his turmoil. Seeing the sadistic nature of Damon Pope. I just wanted to take him and play him like a real young man, in that circumstance, and not this cliche gang member who is not phased by anything. I definitely like to play Tyler as honest as I can for the circumstances, considering what he's up against, and what he's exposed to.
Do you think Tyler always has something up his sleeve? You said this alliance will probably last for a bit, but do you think he's also making plans down the line, just to safeguard his own crew?
Mo McRae Absolutely, absolutely. I have to, at least in my mind. I don't know what Kurt is thinking right now, but I trust that he has secrets for every character he writes. I'm sure he has an exit strategy in mind. For me as an actor, I have secrets and plans and strategies that I would like to implement. He's looking for allies.
You're in this upcoming episode "Ablation" as well. Is there anything you can tease about what goes down in the whole scheme of things?
Mo McRae Well, that episode is heavy. I mean, every episode is heavy, in its own way. If I could tease anything about that... teasing is always such a tricky thing, but I'd say it's a journey. That whole relationship between SAMCRO and the Niners has been an interesting journey. It's going to take a dangerous stop along the journey. I'm not saying I know what the destination is, but I think they're going to make a dangerous stop.
Can you talk a bit about working with Kurt in general, as opposed to other showrunners or creators you've worked with?
Mo McRae You know, for me, Kurt Sutter has been like Oz, because he's not been on set the days I've been there, but his presence is there. He calls to check in with certain lines and everything. He's so busy, so he's not on set, often. He's kind of like Oz, this omniscient figure that's there.
That's awesome. Are you lined up for any more episodes of Sons of Anarchy this season?
Mo McRae As of right now... I didn't die (Laughs). As of right now, I'm alive, and as long as you're still alive, you can always come back.
Is there anything else you're working on right now?
Mo McRae Yeah, I'm actually developing a television show myself. Cory Hardrict produced a television pilot presentation. We have a wonderful cast, Omari Hardwick, Aisha Hinds, and some other really talented actors. I'm pushing that.
What would you like to say to any SOA fans about why they should check out this new episode "Ablation" next week?
Mo McRae You have to keep tuning in, so you can keep getting knocked flat on your back, like every other episode does. Right when you think you know what's happening, you don't. Kurt Sutter is going to keep that thing going, and keeping it organic, and real, and keeping you on the edge of your seat wanting more. "Ablation", if I could describe that in one word, I would say powerful. It's a really powerful episode.
Great. That's about all I have. It was great talking to you, Mo.
Mo McRae Thank you. Have a great day.