Check out the snippet below of Walton’s interview and be sure to check out the interview in its entirety (which is definitely worth the read) over at 411Mania.com!
Al Norton: I’ve got two quick stories I want to share with you to start, both of which relate to your work. First, my 25 year high school reunion was in November and I had a bet with my wife about how long it would take before someone started talking about TV with me, which was about 20 minutes, but the second TV conversation I had was when a very old friend of mine, a Boston cop I’ve known since 1st grade, came up to me and, after asking me how my family was, volunteered “Walton Goggins is the best actor I’ve ever seen.”
Walton Goggins: I paid him to say that. I knew exactly where you’re reunion was going to be (laughing)…Man, that makes me blush. I don’t know if that’s the case but I sure am glad I spoke to somebody. The sure does feel good.
Al Norton: The second story is that I had a reader of mine email me and say he had never met anyone who was transgender and had some pretty clear cut and not positive thoughts in his head about who “those” people were but that after watching you as Venus on Sons, he know feels and thinks completely differently.
Walton Goggins: Now you’re gonna make me cry…I don’t know, I think that’s one of the best compliments I’ve ever been given in my entire life. That’s very powerful and very gratifying and I really, really appreciate you sharing that with me. Thank you very much.
Al Norton: Did you have any idea when you got the call and said, “sure I’ll do that episode of Sons and play this interesting character”, who Venus would become? People throw the word “groundbreaking” around but in this instance it’s accurate in that I think she’s maybe the single most groundbreaking character TV has seen in the last decade.
Walton Goggins: Kurt (Sutter, Sons of Anarchy creator) is a dear friend of mine and he is a bold human being and I am lucky to be friends with people who fall into that category, people who not only push themselves but push the people around them. It was an opportunity to, almost selfishly, explore this person that I didn’t really even look at as a transgender. I looked at her as a very confident, three dimensional, funny human being that I wanted to get to know. It was only going to be for one episode and we thought it might get a reaction because people wouldn’t expect it, which is why we didn’t tell anyone about it. That was on purpose; we didn’t talk to anyone about it and when FX sent it out to writers and media, it was with the condition that no one really say anything so they could let the audience experience it on their own.
From that perspective I thought it was a unique opportunity to say something, to be honest and vulnerable and forthcoming and truthful, a way to get into the Sons of Anarchy world in a way that was unexpected and surprising, and to not to portray that community as the butt of a joke or reducing them to an experience that we had all seen in other forms of entertainment. I was very, very surprised when the next day it was on the cover of Variety. It was a very pleasant surprise because what it gave Kurt and me the opportunity to do is see what else there was to her. I suppose I had a little something to do with it in terms of my interpretation of the material but it all came from his heart and his imagination.
Al Norton: The last full scene you did on Sons, with Venus and Tig talking about their relationship and the shadows and the light, is breathtakingly honest and just amazing to watch, to the point where I’ve kept the episode on my DVR for future viewings. How much rehearsing did you and Kim (Coates) do, how did you two and the direct approach it?
Walton Goggins: I was doing a movie up in Canada when Kurt sent that script and like everybody else who read it, which was not a lot of people, I was so amazed. It was one of those things that was outside of Kurt, where he let himself go and let himself be the vehicle for those words to come into the world, to express that person’s point of view to the world, and that just happens in those times when you’re in the pocket, and that can happen to you in whatever discipline you’re in. It could be you writing a review or a plumber solving a problem, we all have those moments in our respective lives and that was one of those for Kurt.
Kim Coates and I talked a couple of times and he had a very specific way he wanted Tig to make love to Venus, which I thought was really appropriate and very loving, and it was the first time they had been intimate in that way. We did that in two takes. The next scene, where Venus is coming out of the shower, I had a deep conversation with the hair and makeup people because we are seeing her in her true state, when no one is looking, and we found that. The way she is walking out of the bath and the way she looks, you get to see behind the curtain and see who she is in that moment, and in that moment in front of the mirror she sees herself the way Tig sees her.
We walked through everything once and we all knew it was all we needed. The only thing I asked of Paris Barclay, who was the director and is a very dear old friend of mine – the first thing I did with Paris was a movie called The Cherokee Kid 18 years ago – is that we do two cameras at once and just have this experience and take it out of the realm of “cut” and “action.” Kim agreed and Paris said “absolutely, that’s the way I was going to do it.” He set up two cameras and we did it maybe four times and that was it.
Each one presented its own truth. It was one of those moments in your life as an artist that you get down on your knees at the end of the day and put your hands together in whatever faith you believe in and express as much gratitude as you can. You don’t get those opportunities every day, even though that’s what you strive for, and this is as close as I can get to this women’s truth and her experience. It forever changed me. The whole experience on Sons of Anarchy changed me. It’s weird, Al, but I truly mean this; I don’t feel like Walton Goggins ever did an episode of Sons of Anarchy. I’ve never seen any of the episodes with Venus, it’s too personal, and I was there. I never talked to those guys as Walton, only as Venus, although I know all of them outside of that world and we talk and hang out. In their world, I was no one other than Venus so I personally, Walton Goggins, have no stories from the show. It’s pure and undiluted and I am so grateful for it.