Exclusive Interview: Mo McRae Talks Playing Tyler on Sons of Anarchy, Working On The Butler and Glee

Mo McRae Tyler Sons Of Anarchy

Mo McRae has shaken up the world of Sons of Anarchy as Tyler, the new leader of the One-Niners. TV Equals had the chance to speak with McRae about his role, fan reaction and his other film and television projects. McRae’s last appearance on Sons of Anarchy airs Tuesday at 10/9c on FX.

What’s it like to be a part of a show like Sons of Anarchy?

Mo McRae: It’s interesting because when you watch the show you have all these tough guys doing these crazy, shameless acts left and right, but they’re all artists and there’s a bunch of really good creative people that come together. It’s not like there’s this big testosterone pissing contest all day. There’s a lot of comradery and the levity on set–we have a good time there.

So far, you’ve appeared on three episodes. Have you received any fan feedback so far?

Mo McRae: Yes, I’m amazed by all the fan feedback so far. There’s like a slow development of my character, so I’m not getting a ton of stuff to do, but the moments that I do have, the fans are responding. They’re really kind of connecting to the character’s position and his plight and the choices that I’m making and the way I’m playing it, because those fans don’t miss anything. They’re really in tune with the whole world that Kurt Sutter and FX have created.

And this show is one that’s made both critics and audiences happy, which seems pretty hard in the world of television. What do you think makes this show so popular with everyone?

Mo McRae: I just think it has all the key elements–the characters are interesting, they’re not just quintessential cookie-cutter, bunch of beautiful people having drama. There’s some grit there, but at the same time, with that grit, there’s some appeal [that] the women can connect to, there are beautiful women on there that the guys like. That whole subculture is interesting. America’s always had an affinity of gangsterism on every level. Whether people fell in love with Scarface or The Untouchables and that whole renegade lifestyle…so this show has all of those elements that people kind of latch on to.

I’ve also read that you’re on some other projects, like The Butler. Can you tell me about your role in that film?

Mo McRae: In The Butler, I play Eldridge Huggins, who is a fictional character. A lot of characters in the film are based on real people, but mine is kind of like a combination of different people that were involved in the Black Panther Party, so I’m a leader at this particular location in Oakland, because a large part of the film has to do with the Civil Rights Movement and the fight for equality and on that journey in the film, my character is introduced and I’m the leader of the Black Panther Party.

Cool. How was it working on that film because I’ve heard that that’s one of the most anticipated films coming out soon. 

Mo McRae: Yes it is. It was really humbling. I’m still kind of in awe of the fact that I had an opportunity to be a part of something of that magnitude, working with Lee Daniels and everybody that I’ve looked up to for years–Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, John Cusack, Jane Fonda–it’s an incredible cast, and the best thing about that is that when you hear all those names, you expect it to be a situation where you expect a ton of ego, right? But everybody was really about putting the project first. The art was really at the forefront of everybody’s minds, so it was beautiful to just come in and collaborate with those people in that way. It was an amazing process. I know it’s going to be one of those things that stick with me throughout the course of my career–just having that time there.

Great. You’ve also completed the pilot for Ray Donovan.

Mo McRae: Yes.

What’s that about?

Mo McRae: Ray Donovan is set in L.A. and the lead character is played by Liev Schreiber [who is also in The Butler] who plays Ray Donovan. And in short, it’s about a guy who’s a Hollywood “fixer.” So whenever some rich celebrity or socialite or athlete ever has an issue that needs to be fixed and they can’t to their publicist or regular attorney or something like that, they call this guy and he comes and does whatever needs to be done to take care of it. So I play a professional basketball player and I just wake up one morning in a hotel in a terrible situation. Terrible. So I have to call him, and he comes and does his thing. But it might just be a temporary fix. That’s the thing about it–you just don’t know if that fix is going to really fix the problem forever.

That sounds really interesting. I can’t wait to see that. My final question is if you could guest star on any other television show, which one would it be?

Mo McRae: That is a great question, Monique! I only get to pick one?

You can list several, if you want. 

Mo McRae: I’m only going to list two or three, I don’t know. I think it would be really fun to be on “Girls.” I think I could bring something interesting, I think it would be a nice marriage. Girls, Breaking Bad, and…I’m just going to throw everybody off and say Glee.

Oh! Okay. 

Mo McRae: (laughs)

I’m curious–why Glee?

Mo McRae: Well, Glee has a really specific tone, and it’s not a kind of tone that I’ve really had a chance to participate in. So I just think it’ll be fun.