Joel McHale Talks Sons of Anarchy, Community
Joel McHale's Sons of Anarchy character doesn't have a last name. There are a few possible explanations for this, according to the Community star, who starts a two-episode arc on Sons tonight: "That's either some serious arrogance, or he's delusional. Or he's a wrestler." McHale pauses for dramatic effect. "He's not a wrestler." In fact, he's con-man Warren, who blows into Charming and starts spending time with Gemma (Katey Sagal). Neither Gemma's son — and SAMCRO president — Jax (Charlie Hunnam), nor her lover Nero (Jimmy Smits), take kindly to McHale's charmer. "You've seen the show," McHale says. "Not many people survive."
McHale called up TV Guide Magazine a couple weeks ago — before NBC benched Community — for a long, occasionally silly talk about Sons, Community, and why he's hungry all the time.
TV Guide Magazine: So, you just finished shooting the Sons arc not too long ago, and... Actually, what episode of Community are you guys shooting?
Joel McHale: We'll start shooting episode six of our 13-episode order next week. I can't believe we're nearly halfway done. I would kill to get that back nine [episodes].
TV Guide Magazine: Who would you kill?
McHale: Oh! I would be some sort of burnt sacrifice. A virgin... But it doesn't have to be a human virgin. It could be like a cockroach. No, I would love for them to give us the back nine. I know the cast is up for it.
TV Guide Magazine: How are the new guys treating you?
McHale: Well, there's no new cast members.
TV Guide Magazine: No, no, but the head wri—
McHale: Oh, well I guess there's Malcolm McDowell, playing our professor. I'm really looking forward to when he comes back. Not that he wasn't involved, but it was one of those things where it was like, that was the appetizer, and I would like the main course of Malcolm McDowell. And then James Brolin [playing Jeff Winger's dad]. I met him very briefly last year, and he is more of a man than men can dream of. He's a pilot and a race car driver. And I don't think people know this, but he can be really goofy. So yeah, in that sense it's been really exciting. I was glad that as far as the approach and the spirit of the show, all the new people want to keep that intact and keep that going. 'Cause I think our uniqueness and ambition have really carried us a long way. I know the cast cares deeply about the product it's part of.
TV Guide Magazine: You can tell, listening to you guys talk about the show, that you guys love it almost on par with your children.
McHale: Well, I see those people more than I do my children. That's not a joke. That's the other thing: It's the best job in the world, believe me, but it does get kind of crazy, to the point where you don't have clean clothes. I've worked very hard on this thing, and so has the entire cast and crew, so that's why I want to see it go to, uh, six seasons and a movie. Or! Twelve seasons and a theme park.
TV Guide Magazine: I would buy a ticket to that. Okay: Sons of Anarchy. What brings Warren to Charming? Is Gemma his mark? Because that's a terrible idea.
McHale: I will say that he has a lot of interaction with her.
TV Guide Magazine: Is he white-trash-y like the MC, or a little slicker?
McHale: He's a little slicker. But he's not necessarily brave. He's a true con man in that he will try to get out of everything. On a scale of thieves, Warren would be way on the douchebag side. Whereas Robin Hood would be on the "Eh, I can bring that guy home and meet the parents" end.
TV Guide Magazine: You said you got to work with Katey Sagal a lot?
McHale: Katey is a queen. I don't understand why Sons of Anarchy doesn't get recognized more. I just don't get why some shows seem to be some sort of automatic shoo-in, and some others just cannot even get into the lobby.
TV Guide Magazine: Yeah, during the Emmys, in the drama montage I didn't see anything from Sons or Justified, which...
McHale: Was Timothy Olyphant nominated?
TV Guide Magazine: Not this year.
McHale: Unbelievable. I just can't imagine, when you put things like Justified — which is tremendous, and Timothy Olyphant puts on a tour de force every week — and something like Sons of Anarchy, where you have tremendous performances going on constantly.... I dunno. It's doing all the right things. It seems like it's pushing all the buttons Emmy voters have.... You know, these are all very high-class problems. If you're having these problems, then, A) congrats, and B) I hope your problems don't ever get any worse than that.
TV Guide Magazine: I imagine Warren is going to have some serious problems. The odds are probably not in his favor in terms of surv—
McHale: Oh no, they are not.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you take a lot of hits?
McHale: I got to do all sorts of great stuff. I got to shoot guns and drive cars very aggressively. The fact that they get to do that every day is just really awesome. It's just so much fun to make.
TV Guide Magazine: One of my favorite little celebrity tidbits is that you were a walk-on for the University of Washington's football team.
McHale: Wow. Yes.
TV Guide Magazine: Did that help you in any way with the stunts?
McHale: Well, if you're in halfway decent shape, that's really going to help in doing stunts. I got to do a bunch of stuff. I love being physical like that, as evidenced by the cuts all over my body from my 4- and 7-year-olds, who I wrestle almost daily. In graduate school I took stunts and got my sword-fighting certification, which totally comes in handy.
TV Guide Magazine: Sword-fighting certification?
McHale: Oh yeah. You have to be certified for fighting. It's one of those things where, like, when I was in graduate school they taught me dance. I didn't really take it that seriously, because I was like, "Oh come on, when am I going to be dancing?" And then my first job here was dancing in a Dockers ad directed by Christopher Guest. And then with fighting, on Community I got in a huge fistfight with Anthony Michael Hall. But with this, this was serious fighting and beating. And Kurt [Sutter] writes some dark-ass s---.
TV Guide Magazine: He really does. Have you seen the premiere?
McHale: No, I haven't. I spend most of my time at Community and working on The Soup, so it's usually on Sunday nights that I watch like four or five episodes. I mean, I'm still on episode nine of Homeland.
TV Guide Magazine: You should really rectify that.
McHale: I know. For a while my wife was mainlining Downton Abbey and Homeland, so I bought all the Blu-rays. I don't know why Community isn't on Blu-ray. It's crazy. I ask those questions all the time: "How come we're not on Blu-ray?!"
TV Guide Magazine: How did the Sons part come up?
McHale: [Creator] Kurt [Sutter] asked me long ago whether I would be on the show, after he had appeared on [The Soup]... Huh, I don't know why he asked. Of course, I said, "I'll do it for free, I'll donate the funds, you let me know." I think people can be like, "Is it really hard to do drama?" I'm like, "I love doing it!" As an actor, you want to do everything you can. And like, everyone says, "It seems like you're Jeff Winger. Isn't it just you?" And I'm like, "I have children and a wife, so in essence, no." He's very different. We have the same voice and we look the same, he just wears more makeup and spray tans a lot.
TV Guide Magazine: Tighter shirts.
McHale: A lot tighter. Yeah. Jeff is pre-tty vain.
TV Guide Magazine: Speaking for some of the female contingent, we appreciate the costuming choices.
McHale: Well, just so you know, I am starving. I mean, all the time. Even after I eat, I am starving.
TV Guide Magazine: Okay, it's not worth you starving. Please go eat a cheeseburger after this.
McHale: Well, I can eat a cheeseburger, but without the cheese, bun... Just have it protein style, with lettuce.
TV Guide Magazine: That's incredibly depressing.
McHale: Yeah, pretty bad. Welcome to my world.
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