Ahead of his appearance at An Evening Of Mayhem at the Astor Theatre this Sunday, March 30, alongside fellow Sons Of Anarchy cast members Mark Boone Junior and Theo Rossi, we spoke to Kim “Tig” Coates about his role in the hit biker melodrama.
“I just blew off Melbourne just for you. I just blew them right off. I said, ‘There’s Perth on the other line – go fuck yourself. You’re done, get outta here.’”
Take note, future interviewees: that’s a textbook way to get your interrogator onside, as demonstrated by the canny and charismatic Kim Coates. A regular supporting player on both big screen and small, Coates has spent a good chunk of his career dying for his art. In fact, there’s a supercut floating around the ‘net of Coates’ various onscreen deaths that puts Sean Bean’s to shame.
“When I was a young actor in New York,” he recalls. “On Broadway, Warner Brothers come a-calling and I started doing a few films here and there. I started to die early a lot and one of my early agents said, ‘You should make a death reel.’ and I went, ‘Not happening!’ 25 years later, some guy or girl has made this reel of, like, 30 of my deaths or something. Yeah, I’ve seen it. It’s very funny. It’s great.”
Of course, being part of a television ensemble means it’s been a long time between deaths for Coates. As Alexander “Tig” Trager, the murderous but loyal Sergeant At Arms in Sons Of Anarchy, he’s an integral part of a cast that boasts some of the best character actors currently working. Such a recurring role was a new experience for Coates.
“I’ve never been a regular on a television program before,” he tells us. “I just never have. I’ve done all my movies and the odd arc here and there, but I wasn’t really looking and all of a sudden this script came up. It was amazing and I read it and I love to ride – I’ve been riding my whole life – so I auditioned. I was too young for Clay and I wasn’t right for Bobby, so there wasn’t really anything for me so I walked away – I wished them all the best, though. Then three months later they were gonna reshoot the pilot and at the time they didn’t have Tig – they didn’t have a Sergeant At Arms, they didn’t have that guy. So (Showrunner Kurt) Sutter called me at the 11th hour and said, ‘Would you please do this?’ and I had trepidations like crazy. I said, ‘You know, I have no interest in playing a sociopath. there’s gotta be something there.’ And he wasn’t really sure what was gonna be there for Tig but he promised me that he’d be a whole character. He’d be funny, he’d be hysterical, yes he’d be tough, yes he’d be psychotic – he’d be all those things, but he’d be a brother and be funny and cry and laugh.”
To be honest, though, there hasn’t been a lot of laughter in the increasingly grim series, which has mounted atrocity upon murder of late. “Where’s the humour gone? Where’s the comedy gone? It’s a changed show. In fact, I gotta say, people need to keep reminding themselves that this is fiction. This is a television show. this is not reality. We’d all be so in jail by the third show of the first season! In fact, the bikers that I know – I mean, I’m a family man, I got two girls, I don’t do that side, but I’ve been in circles where they’ve been around and I’m telling you, some of these guys tell us, ‘You know what’s wrong with the show occasionally? First of all, you guys do way too much killing and shit and the other thing is – where’s all the fun?’”