‘Sons of Anarchy’ Spinoff Could Feature Familiar Faces

11 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

FX’s ‘The Bastard Executioner’ Is a Medieval Epic With Mystical Touches.

To play the title character in the FX series “The Bastard Executioner,” a bloody drama set in 14th-century Wales, actor Lee Jones had to learn how to wield a sword and ride a horse. Sutter was chatting with Deadline while promoting his upcoming FX series The Bastard Executioner when he was asked about the new project, which EW first reported last month.As a natural follow-up to a long-running series about a motorcycle gang, Kurt Sutter has focused his attention on 14th century Wales where the locals are fighting against the oppressive rule of the English monarch as represented by feudal barons.Though Sutter has been branching out from the world of motorcycle gangs in his recent projects – Southpaw and Bastard Executioner – he’ll be returning to it for the Mayans Sons spinoff. All that’s been confirmed by FX so far is that Sutter is developing a spin-off to his hit biker gang series that chronicles the Mayans motorcycle club.

Since Sutter plans to keep the new series in the present, he doesn’t see why some more familiar characters wouldn’t make an appearance. “It’s the same [biker] subculture, but it’d be interesting to see the influences of [Hispanic] culture and how it impacts the subculture we already understand,” Sutter told Deadline. “I would do a contemporary piece, not a prequel, and place it far enough away from Northern California that it wouldn’t step on the mythology that’s already been told.” “It doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be some cool, ironic crossovers with familiar characters as the series progressed,” Sutter continued. “I wouldn’t want to set it too close to the world we already know, and step on that … My intent is, over the hiatus I’ll initiate a script for the pilot and take it from there.” The Sons spinoff focusing on the Mexican-American biker gang is still in the early stages of development. The series, premiering Tuesday, Sept. 15, on FX, becomes the Fall season’s official tough act to follow. “Executioner” focuses on a gifted warrior named Wilkin Brattle (Lee Jones) gets a visit on a bloody battlefield from a divine messenger who urges him to lay down his sword. Once the ball gets rolling in earnest on the Mayans project, it’s expected to jump to the front of the development pipeline, THR reported last month.

Jones, 32, had primarily been a theater actor in Australia before he landed “Executioner,” a grimy medieval swords-and-intrigue spectacle from Kurt Sutter, the creator of “Sons of Anarchy.” Mr. But it was one thing to fight for Edward I, and quite another to endure the oppression of his heir, Edward II, especially as carried out by the local baron, Erik Ventris (Brian F. Jones had been splitting his time between Sydney and Los Angeles, trying to get a screen career going without much success, until he auditioned for Mr. Sutter and his partners at FX and the Fox 21 television studio are taking as the writer, actor and producer trades in a story about a California motorcycle gang—one of the most-watched series ever on FX, averaging 11.7 million total viewers in its final season—for a medieval epic with mystical touches. That story is envisioned as a limited series that would follow Jax’ father John Teller and a young Piney (played by William Lucking in SoA) as they meet during the Vietnam War, return home and then establish SAMCRO.

Wilkin tries to remain on the sidelines, but an especially brutal attack on his village when he and other men are off ambushing the English motivates him to pick up his sword again and seek vengeance on Ventris. On sets in and around Cardiff, Wales, the production team needed to make period costumes and weapons, build a castle set and populate a village. “Horses are a lot more expensive than motorcycles,” Mr. But when tragedy strikes, he takes up arms again, vowing vengeance while pretending to be — and in the process inevitably becoming — a punisher, a professional executioner and all-around-hurting-others kind of guy.

Wilkin is a retired warrior driven by tragedy to dust off his sword in pursuit of revenge for himself and his countrymen. “People are going to expect the battles, the blood, the guts,” Mr. His chief advisor-mentor is a witch, Annora of the Alders (“Sons” stalwart Katey Sagal, Sutter’s wife), who obviously has some master plan in mind. Brattle infiltrates the royal world of Baroness Lady Love Ventris (Flora Spencer Longhurst), a noblewoman who wants peace with the common man, despite recent troubles with rebels. Jones plays Wilkin Brattle, a former knight in the service of King Edward I who suffers from a sort of post-traumatic stress disorder as he tries to settle into domestic life in the countryside. But “Kurt also developed a greater mythology behind the show that’s going to keep expanding.” His stage experience, which has included plenty of Shakespeare as well as an acclaimed turn as the creature in a 2013 production of “Frankenstein,” prepared him for the show’s florid dialogue and grueling physicality.

But while he had done some television in Australia, the scale of “Executioner,” which includes an ersatz village and castle on the show’s set, just outside Cardiff, Wales, was overwhelming, he said. All this intrigue is somewhat enhanced by the aura of mysticism that pervades the story, primarily in the person of Anorra and a mysterious figure known as the Dark Mute (Kurt Sutter).

Sutter, who got his start as a writer 14 years ago on FX’s first breakout series, “The Shield,” ran with the concept, in part to get away from the familiar trappings of a contemporary crime drama. He found his historical window for the story in 1300s Britain. “Pre-Renaissance, post-Crusades,” he says. “Everybody was having Catholicism jammed down their throats, and we were basically half a generation from believing trolls lived under the bridge. The violence quotient here is unrelenting, and far more disturbing than your basic zombie show since real, often wholly innocent people are being gutted, not zombies. It was an interesting place for humanity because we weren’t quite there yet in terms of art and music.” He says FX chief executive John Landgraf had concerns that the violence in the show would get repetitive, a scenario that Mr.

Sutter describes as “a head in a basket each week.” Still, viewers should know to expect a certain level of bloodshed from a cable series with the word “executioner” in the title. “It’s not called ‘The Coronation of the Rose,’ ” Mr. Ghosts and heavenly messengers bathed in artificially golden light begin to nip at the edges of the credibility Sutter has built as the show’s foundation. Employing a kind of Bela Lugosi accent, her angular face framed by a curtain of gray hair, Sagal once again demonstrates her extraordinary versatility as an actor.

Sagal is wickedly effective, as always, and her role certainly echoes the matriarchal menace she brought to “Sons,” while Moyer seems delighted with the villainous sheen he gets to don here. Jones is commanding as Wilkin, fully and grippingly probing the character’s moral conflict, and Spencer-Longhurst more than holds her own as one of Sutter’s trademark strong female characters. The biker gets stabbed in the eye, bites off his own tongue rather than testify against his brethren, suffers rapes in prison, and ultimately gets shot to death. Sutter infuses “Executioner” with many of the elements that have made “Game of Thrones” a success for HBO, including internecine conflict and scenes of excruciating violence– the series is not for the squeamish. Unlike feature films, which typically take a month or two to shoot, a hit TV series can last seven years or more, making the initial casting process seem like arranging a mass marriage.

Spencer-Longhurst, fresh from a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, on the first day of casting in London and quickly recognized what they needed in the baroness character, including a mix of strength and intelligence contradicted by a diminutive look. Sutter says he wanted to avoid “the typical 5-foot-9 Hollywood guy with the big head,” but he didn’t find his man in London, either. “I don’t know if it was a cultural thing or the training,” he says, “but all those actors had a little too much [Benedict] Cumberbatch—not to disrespect Mr.

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