Sons of Anarchy continues Season 4 with Episode 4.06: With an X airing Tuesday, October 11 at 10 PM ET on FX. Actresses Winter Ave Zoli, who portrays Lyla, and Kristen Renton, who plays Ima, recently held a conference call to discuss the upcoming episode of this hit biker gang series. Here's what they had to say below.
Kristen, have you had conversations with Kurt Sutter that your character somehow will have some sort of a redemptive moment? She's always been the bad girl, will she ever see the light, or is she being run off, if you can elaborate on where your character is going for the fans.
Kristen Renton: Good question. I have not spoken to Kurt about what will be transpiring later on in the coming seasons or anything like that. I feel like she's the main bad girl of this show and I don't think that he's going to change that. I think he's going to keep her there stirring the pot, causing chaos, and it makes for a more interesting character, in my opinion. I love playing the bad girl. I think she's a lot more fun to play than a character like Tara, where she's nice and you're rooting for her. Everybody loves to hate Ima, so I think we're going to keep it on that path and see what other trouble she can get into.
Winter, can you give us any indication around where you're going to take Lyla? she is obviously at crisis.
Winter Ave Zoli: Lyla is basically dealing with this new relationship, this new married life, and sort of jumping into a relationship that went really fast. And I think both her and the Opie character are like, "now what". Obviously she has this secret that she's been holding on to, which is the abortion she had last season, so that comes to a head in this season and then it's just basically then dealing with how they're dealing with the relationship at this point. Yes, they have a lot to sort out this season.
My question is to both of you, what do you guys like most about the season both in the storyline and in your character in particular?
Winter Ave Zoli: What I like a lot about this season is that it's dealing more on a personal level with all of the characters and delving into relationships and the history of the relationships and the past of the club, and a lot of things come to a head. So it reveals a lot of information this season about the characters and the club. About my character in particular, I like that things are coming to a head for her and Opie and it's showing more of Lyla's character in this season and situations come up that force her and Opie to deal with the things in their life.
Kristen Renton: I agree with what Winter says. This season is a very relationship driven season and being able to look back into the past of how the club started and where everybody came from and the different relationships and dynamics that come into play with the history of the club, where everybody is now, even seeing the relationship between Gemma and Clay start to, I don't want to say deteriorate, but start to be really tested and all the lying and deceit, I think is a very interesting, juicy creative path that they're going down. For my character in particular I just like that she just doesn't give up. She's coming back and she won't take no for an answer and she's I think gone a little over to the dark side. She's now carrying a gun and she's gone a little batty. But she's determined and you've got to appreciate a girl with determination for sure.
This show is all about tough people and people that are undeterred and conflicts come and conflicts go, but nothing affects them quite as much as women, the Achilles heel of so many of these characters, and it's so interesting the complexity that those relationships kind of spark up, especially when the two of you guys are involved. So I wanted to find out how you do your part to help showcase the fallibility that those people have and how to enhance that. Because people tune into the show to watch motorcycle action superficially, but why they stay is a lot of the stuff that you're involved with and I want to see how you guys help build those dynamics and make it even more explosive than the action sequences.
Kristen Renton: Well, I was just going to say that it's hard not to be as explosive as an action sequence when you're playing a no-nonsense porn star. The stuff that's written for both my character, and I don't want to speak on her behalf but I feel it's the same for Winter's character, Lyla as well, we're given such juicy, amazing material by the writers and by Kurt that it would be hard to muck it up. And when you're given something like that the choices that you can make behind the character come so easily, there are so many different ways you can take it, so many different things that you can do, and we have amazing directors on this show that really help with the creative process, so it's fairly easy to just take it and run with it and really make it something that the fans want to tune in, watch, and stick around and see. What do you think, Winter?
Winter Ave Zoli: Yes. I think that was perfectly said. To reiterate, yes, we're running around in our underwear and it's hard not to draw attention and not to draw interest, let alone the storylines, which are so crazy, and they're crazy because we're in this different wild world of the bike gang, of the porn life. So, yes, it writes itself, it's such interesting material to work with, and we have great writers that, like Kristen said, give us great scenes to work with. So yes it's kind of easy to compete with the rest of the explosive action scenes.
Kristen Renton: Which there have been quite a few this year, and I'm enjoying them.
Winter Ave Zoli: There have, yes.
Regarding both of your characters, how are their personalities similar to your reality? How are your characters, how are their personalities similar to you and how are they different?
Winter Ave Zoli: We're both actresses, acting out different kinds of movies.
Kristen Renton: That's a good one.
Winter Ave Zoli: I think it's important to somehow relate to your character. It brings it more to life and makes it more realistic. I've always tried, from the beginning to make Lyla real and relate her to myself as much as I can. Obviously there are big differences but I'd say the similarities are that she's just a person and she's a girl who's in love trying to cope with life and problems and good times and bad times. The differences are also pretty obvious. She is a tough cookie porn star and I'd say that's where our biggest differences lie.
Kristen Renton: For me, her character is so far removed from my reality, with what she not only does for a living but the way she acts, the way she presents herself, the attitude that she has, but we've all known people that have come into our lives that are, whether it be negative or disruptive or just flat out bad people and unfortunately I've had quite a few of those in my life, and so I had a lot to draw on when I was introduced to "Ima." She's based off of bits and pieces of different people that have come into my life that I've had to deal with, if you will. And you know what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so I've found myself in a much better place having met these people. So for Ima she's a hodge-podge of things that I have seen and gone through and people that I've met, and the one thing that I think is the most relatable between me and Ima is that we're both very determined young women. We both will not accept no for an answer and are very driven and determined and no-nonsense. But that's where the similarities end. I'm much nicer than Ima. I would never steal another woman's man. I give her a lot of credit for being strong enough to do the whole porn thing and I think that any woman that is willing to take control of their life and do what they want to do to make their living, I have a lot of respect for women like that. I personally couldn't do it, but that doesn't mean that I look down upon it, and I don't. Ima and Lyla I think are very strong women and I think that both Winter and I are similar in that way.
Before the season starts, does Kurt give you guys any idea what's going to happen to your character, or do you basically find out as you get the scripts?
Winter Ave Zoli: We are in the dark until we get the scripts. You get hints of what's to come, sort of the general arc of the season, but even that can change depending on what Kurt decides, which direction Kurt decides to take the story on a given moment. Yes, so you get the scripts and you're like, okay, what's happening this time, what's going to happen to Lyla? So it keeps you on your toes.
Kristen Renton: Kurt does play his cards very close to his vest. He likes to keep it quiet until we actually put the script out there. And it's amazing how much information can get leaked nowadays. It just takes one person and then it's a whole spoiler. So he keeps things pretty quiet.
The show's such an emotional roller coaster and you really have to get yourself worked up I think to play these characters. They're just so rich. I just wondered, is it ever hard to leave that on the set for the rest of your day, or does it affect you, just the things that you've done or seen on the set?
Winter Ave Zoli: If I may, actually it takes me about 20 minutes to leave Lyla, and that's probably the process of taking off the hair and the makeup. Sometimes things do get, especially when they're highly emotional that can linger with you for a while, but I always actually just feel so happy when I leave set because I just feel so fortunate to be working on such a great show with such great people. So that's the only feeling that's left afterwards is just a sense of joy that I get to go to set and do this job and have this opportunity. I just feel so fortunate.
Kristen Renton: I completely agree. It's an interesting process when you have a character like Lyla or Ima that so much goes into making her physically, the fake hair, the fake eyelashes, all the makeup, all the little chicken cutlets we put in our bras to make our boobs look bigger, all of it, and so when you're done for the day and you go back to your trailer it's almost like a cathartic, taking all of that off you're peeling off that character. And you know what you're left with is really a bare bones of who you are, as a person you're sitting there and everything's gone and you're like, okay, and that actually helps to leave the character on set because I think Winter will agree that our characters are so far removed from our reality of even just how we dress in day to day life, that it does help for us to be able to take that off and leave that there. But I also agree with, you leave set and I have a huge smile on my face because I just got to work with the coolest people on the coolest show on television.
If there was one thing for these characters that you've learned or that you're going to take away with you, what would that be, if anything?
Kristen Renton: I think that I'm the girl that everybody loves to hate, but I feel like every person has a story and I definitely don't judge people overtly the way that - I don't ever think I was fully guilty of that, but you look at somebody like a porn star and you're like, oh, they must have gotten molested as a child, or they must have had a tough upbringing. How could they do that for a living? But everybody has a story and everybody has a reason to be there. I think that that's one thing that my character has taught me is you don't know what that story is, you don't know what that history is, and how dare you judge until you know.
Winter Ave Zoli: Yes, I'd have to agree. I think working on the show definitely opened my eyes to this lifestyle of a porn actress, especially since we do have some actual porn actresses who are extras on the show and you get to know them after working with them for so many seasons. And these girls are, they're just normal girls. Yes, they're doing something that is not perceived as something normal or it's a very different kind of lifestyle and job to have, and I don't know them that well, I just know their backgrounds, but to sit there and judge them would be completely unfair. These girls are completely normal, nice girls who are just living their life and I'd say it's taught me, I would leave Lyla knowing that I respect her survival so much, the strength that she has, and what she did to take care of herself and take care of her son, and it's like she makes it work and I really admire that. I admire the strength of Lyla and the courage.