Sons of Anarchy Season 5: Donal Logue On Playing Lee Toric, Reading Artaud

Sons of Anarchy Season 5 Donal Logue

The 90-minute Season 5 finale of Sons of Anarchy airs December 4, and TV Equals was able to hear from Donal Logue, who plays Lee Toric, a Harvard-educated rogue U.S. Marshal. During the conference call, Logue talked about working on the show, getting into character and the mystery behind the book Lee was reading.

How Logue got the part

Logue said he wanted to be a part of Sons of Anarchy for a long time. “I’ve been kind of talking to [executive producer] Kurt [Sutter] about doing something on the show for the last three years,” he said. “What had happened was invariably he would always have a conversation with me like 42 seconds after I had committed to doing another pilot. Two years ago it was Hallelujah, this thing for ABC. Then last year I had done a western called Tin Star for TNT, neither of which ended up going. I was like, oh my God, I really, I would love to join the show…I just basically couldn’t join, and not for lack of Kurt trying to get me on. Then this year finally we had a meeting, and he was like I think I have an idea for this guy. It has been something we have been trying to do for a while.”

What it’s acting on Sons of Anarchy

Logue said his sister, actress Karina Logue, warmed him up to the show. “My sister obviously had worked on the show for the couple of episodes prior, and a lot of the crew on the show were people I had worked with before on both Terriers and … and different shows. What Karina said to me when she started working was, ‘Oh my God, everybody is just so nice and so cool.'”

Logue said the nice set environment is one of the best things about working on Sons of Anarchy.

“I’d have to say my favorite thing about working on the show, and something that might be intriguing to other people is…it’s just such an amazingly welcoming environment to work on that set. You know, it’s not too cool for school and alienating. It’s totally the opposite,” he said. “I think my favorite thing has been to have known all those guys a little bit. We kind of see each other around the block over the years, but to finally get to jump in there and work with them has been like a complete and utter treat. I just think the show is really good.”

Being a part of a show he’s followed extensively is also exciting for Logue. “I’m a fan of the show. It’s really the first time I’ve jumped on something that I was kind of actively engaged, and just following myself so I could get excited about it in that way,” he said. “I’d have to say overall just, I don’t know, just from cast to crew, and certainly from Kurt and [executive producer] Paris Barclay and on down like everybody has just been so great that it was just a really, I don’t know, it sounds so absurd to go with such a kind of fun experience, but you know what I mean. They’re serious about the work. Look, I have a small, small thumbprint on a big moving mural that’s been in play for years and years. It was just kind of a really thrilling little ride on this big world of Sons of Anarchy.”

The intensity of Lee Toric

Logue discussed what makes Lee tick as a character. “Everybody is like, this guy is so bad, this guy’s sister was brutally murdered by an outlaw organization that engages in illegal activities. I get it. I root for the underdog and I root for the bad, you know, I understand where the anti-hero stuff comes,” he said. I think Lee Toric’s game is that…in our world these things happen and this is part of the game and there’s collateral damage. [Lee is] going to bring a shocking level of violence to you to show you that you’re perspective and perception of what is right and wrong is wrong. I think it’s a kind of a really powerful moral stance.”

Is Lee crazy?

“He’s not crazy. You know it’s so interesting, I don’t know the full story,” said Logue when talking about Lee’s level of mental stability. “He might be dealing with some kind of pain and stuff. I don’t think he’s crazy…”

Logue spoke more on how he identifies with his characters. “I had this interesting conversation with David Kelley years ago because I was on The Practice for a little bit. [My character] was mad at their law firm because I was an assistant district attorney, and this guy that we had been chasing for a long time that had $300,000 worth of cocaine on him was basically successfully defended by their law firm, and sent back into public,” he said. “Everyone kept referring to my character as ‘the dick’ because it was my name, but it was a joke that I’m a dick. I was like, hold on. They wanted me to go to a party dressed as a penis from Ally McBeal or something because they had this prop. I’m like, look, I’m just an attorney who’s trying to keep cocaine off the streets…You guys, I get it; you’re slimy. You’re good defense lawyers. The country needs it, and I respect it, but I’m not a jerk. I’m not a jerk for being intense about someone smuggling a murder weapon in to kill my sister. I would probably be a jerk if I was nonplussed about it. What happened was, it’s kind of Outlaw Josie Wales’ style. You picked the wrong person. You just weren’t aware of who you messed with when you ─ if you mess with someone you’re always taking that risk that they have a family, and that they have people who are vengefully minded. My characters are always utterly sympathetic to me, if that makes any sense.”

The significance of Watchfiends and Rack Screams

Many fans are wondering what was the reason for Lee to read Watchfiends and Rack Screams by Antonin Artaud. Logue has the background information on the importance of the book to Lee.

“Artaud was this French writer…and I think that…he spent a lot of time in mental institutions. He walked that thin line…He was a genius, and he was mentally ill probably. What was fascinating about him ─ I’m no scholar of Artaud, and I have read some in the past, but I will tell you that how it plays with Sons of Anarchy in a weird way too, is that he didn’t believe that there was much of a difference between art and life,” he said. “He thought that art’s duty was to be as real as life, and to be just basically shocking and brutal. To hit you in your face so hard that it broke the kind of comfortable veneer with which you perceive reality. In a weird way, the way that Sons of Anarchy does that and comes at you with this brutality…[T]he way I saw it in terms of Lee Toric was Artaud basically would say, ‘Okay, you kind of like violence? You like war?…Let me take you down to the morgue and just shove your face into a dead body just so you can see…do you like what this is?'”

Logue didn’t tease much of the finale for fear of spoiling. He did insist that fans watch it. So, with that order in mind, make sure to catch the finale of Sons of Anarchy December 4 at 10/9c on FX.