Interview with actor Kim CoatesMay 22, 2016
For someone who did not start out wanting to be an actor, Kim Coates has carved out quite a career for himself. With over 132 acting credits that include films such as Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor and his brutally honest performance as Alexander ‘Tig’ Trader in the hit television series Sons of Anarchy, Kim Coates has come a long way from his early days in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Recently, we had the chance to talk to Kim about his new movie Officer Downe, life during and after Sons of Anarchy and his experiences as an actor.
So how did you get into the acting business? Was this something that always interested you or was it more like a happy accident?
Kim: No, it was a total fluke. I didn’t know I had an elective in my first year of University, the University of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan where I’m from, and the elective meant I could choose whatever I wanted and honestly, I put my finger on the catalogue of classes, leafed through it very quickly and came to rest on D and under D was drama. I thought drama, wow, I guess I could take that, I know I could pass it for sure and so that’s how it all started, man. I took no theater in high school, nothing, zero, I was the captain of the hockey team, played football, baseball the whole deal and I took one drama class when I was eighteen, my first year of college and thing I was in twenty four plays in a four year period, which is pretty unheard of, that was including Summer Stock, we won a Fringe first over in Edenborough Drama Festival and I knew I was going to be a professional actor after that. I changed my major to drama from history and that’s how it all started brother, I was such a little redneck, a big redneck actually, and I get to college and I started meeting gay people, straight people, liberal arts and jocks and Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams and it was the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me. That led to tons of theater, youngest Macbeth ever at Stratford, I went right from there to Broadway, I played Stanley Kowalski on Broadway for five months in 1989 and then the movies started right after that and the rest is history.
You’ve worked in theater, television and movies. Do you have a favorite medium in terms of acting or do you like to mix it up if you can?
Kim: Yeah, I don’t really, Jeff. I can only say that I haven’t been on stage since 1990 and it’s time to get back on the stage. I’ve got something I can’t really talk about but if things go the way they might, next year I’ll be getting back on the boards. Neither one of my kids has seen me on stage, my wife has obviously, we’ve been married thirty one years so, she’s an old hat with me on stage, has been for a long time. Yeah so, I love theater, I love TV, I think right now has never been stronger, especially on cable. These writers on television, especially for woman which is so exciting, they can write stuff that they don’t do in movies almost anymore, and I do it all. It’s always been and always will be about the script with me, always. Sons of Anarchy was magic in a bottle and that was a seven year gig and now we’re back to movies full time. I just finished my seventh movie in the last fourteen months so it’s a pretty exciting time for me.
Now the movie Officer Downe, above all else, looks like a hell of a lot of fun. What was your reaction when you read the script?
Kim: That’s great, make sure you use that, ‘above all else it looks like a lot of fun’, because it’s true. Yeah, Sons of Anarchy ended in the fall of 2014 and I turned down four pretty big TV gigs right away, I didn’t want to do any TV and a couple of movies too, I don’t remember what they were now. Office Downe came my way and they wanted me to read the graphic novel first by Joe Casey and the artwork done by Chris Burham and I did and honestly Jeff, holy fuck, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. This guy’s a cop and he’s a good cop, he’s by the badge, by the book and he dies, they put him on ice for twenty years and when he comes back LA, he’s an LA cop, LA has gone to shit, its Gotham City gone so wrong. It’s all run by the most evil bad guys on the planet and they find out a way to bring him back, I can’t tell you how but he comes back. So for me, to look at the graphic novel and then read the script, to figure out this guy, obviously he’s real, so he’s part Frankenstein, part Robocop, like what the hell? It was so fun and I’m naked for a lot of this film I mean honestly, I had to hit the gym pretty hard, my stunt guys were great but I still did about ninety five percent of my stunts so I’m pretty proud of that, Jeff. I’ve seen the movie and the movies crazy and it’s a game changer. It’s restricted, it’s not for young kids at all, trust me, and there’s many reason for it. Deadpool did so well and while this isn’t Deadpool, it’s on that same line of graphic novel/comic book restricted movies that we don’t have enough of and I cannot wait for people to see it.
What is it about graphic novels and comics now that provide such great material for movies and television to work with?
Kim: Yeah, I don’t know, Mark Neveldine, Joe Casey and Skip Williamson who produced Officer Downe and of course Sean Crahan, clown number six from Slipnot who directed it, they were all over the rights to this graphic novel right away. I think what it is and again, I don’t want to sound negative at all because I think films are really hard to do these days, but Marvel and DC Comics and Warner Brothers, I mean there’s so many PG-13 types I can’t keep up. I don’t know who’s fighting who, I really can’t. This is different, this is a one off, and I’m not saying if this is successful we can’t do another one but seriously, no one even knows who Officer Downe is and the bad guys, who they are, and LA, this is about Los Angeles in the future and we’re opening at the LA Film Festival Jeff, which is so exciting because the film festival there said you have to open this movie here, you filmed it here, Coates is unbelievable in this film, as are all my co-stars, I’m so proud of everybody, I just can’t wait for people to see it, it’s an absolute crazy ride.
It’s now been almost been a year and a half since Sons of Anarchy ended. Can you tell me what that experience was like, what it meant to you and how hard was it to say goodbye to your character Tig as well as the show itself?
Kim: How was it? Well, it was my first foray as a regular on a television show that I wanted to do and I’m glad I said yes, I’m glad I trusted Kurt Sutter and I’m glad I took that ride. Mark Boone Jr. and I were the only two leads that new how to ride motorcycles before the show started, the rest were just fucking knuckleheads. How we got away without anyone getting seriously hurt is a miracle. I’ll never forget doing that show, ever. It will have a special place in my heart as an actor forever but I have to say, that last season was hard, I had some pretty neat stuff to do but it was so violent man, it just go so crazy violent. Charlie and I looked at each other on the fifth episode in the last season and I went ‘We’re killing these people why, and who are they?’ like we didn’t even know anymore. I really do believe that it ended when it should have and I think that it’s going to go down as one of those iconic television series for many reasons. I think we were all tired by the end, not in a bad way but it was an exhausting last couple of years on that show. We should be so lucky to be exhausted, it means we’re working hard, right? But you know what, life is good post Sons and I am so, as are all my cast mates, open one hundred percent to everything again, changing it up, I’ve done seven movies, seven completely different parts for me, like really out there different roles. This is why I became and actor in the first place and I’m just so glad to get back into movies, it’s been great.
Was there ever a time that you thought acting might not work out as a career and did you have any back up plans?
Kim: I never ever thought that no, I knew it was what I had to do, I really mean that. I knew it was going to be tough, I knew I’d have to work hard, I knew opportunity meets hard work meets luck, I knew it would be a mix of all of those three and I was so naïve and so unafraid to fail. I didn’t marry an American, I married a beautiful Canadian girl, both of my girls were born in Toronto, happily and Broadway came along and New York came along and I got my SAG card and Warner Brothers, I did all of those movies and oh my God, it never stopped so no, I never had a backup plan because I knew I was exactly where I had to be.
The look of your character in Officer Downe is fantastic. Did you have any input into all the different parts that made up that unique individual?
Kim: Oh thanks and yeah, of course I did. In fact, that’s a great question Jeff because last February, March and half of April when I was hitting the gym pretty hard getting ready to play this guy, we only shot I think twenty eight days on this film which is kind of miracle seeing as what we actually got. It looks like a fifty million dollar movie and trust me, we had nowhere near that kind of money. But the look for Officer Downe, we had a costume designer who got released from the show early and they realized that had to get this woman Dawn Ritz, she’s the real deal, she had worked with Clown before on many things that Clown has done and she and Joe Casey and Chris Burnham, who did the graphic art work for the novel, I’m telling you bro, we got right back to basics. Me picking out my shades and my mustache and my hat and these pants that allowed me to squat and bend and kick and boots that were light enough that I could use them in the right way and my Answer Man, which was my gun, which was sixteen fucking pounds, imagining lugging that around every day, cocking the trigger back and firing it, it was pretty tough to do. But boy the look, all the bad guys and me hanging upside down for well over an hour, not all at once but it was green blood and blue blood, oh my god, I just can’t wait for people to see it so yeah, the look was very pivotal and Dawn Ritz did an unbelievable job with the wardrobe.
As an actor growing up, did you find any difference between working in Canada and the USA?
Kim: Yeah I did, not for any bad reasons though, just bigger. Broadway was big and off Broadway was big. Hollywood was wow, I’ll never forget walking on the lot in 1991 and meeting Tony Scott who’s now gone, so sadly, Joel Silver and getting the Bruce Willis picture, my whole career changed. Waterworld, going to Hawaii, it’s just bigger, you know? I’ve got so many issues with America these days but it’s still the biggest game in town and that doesn’t mean I won’t go to Thunder Bay tomorrow if the script is right and the director is someone I want to work with because they’re doing some amazing things in Canada and I want to be part of wherever filming is going on as an actor so really, it’s just the game is a bit bigger down here, for sure.
You mentioned all the work you’ve done recently. Can you tell about some of the other projects you have coming up?
Kim: You bet I can, brother. So we talked about Officer Downe, it’s opening June 3rd, it’s been sold out for a while at the LA Film Festival and I’m sure we’ll do a few other festivals and then in a perfect world we’ll open it wide and some people will see it before they know it hopefully. On July 29th I have this beautiful little film called The Land, Steven Capel Jr. wrote it and directed it, a USC graduate and an unbelievable filmmaker. This young kid actor, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. watch out, he’s going to be a movie star this kid. He and four other boys are the leads, it takes place in Cleveland and is based on a true story. I play Uncle Steve, his uncle, his mother died in my arms years ago and he’s always blamed me for that, so we have some sparks flying between he and I. It opened at Sundance and got great reviews, got sold right away so it’s opening everywhere July 29th. There’s Goon 2, where I get to reprise my character Coach Ronnie Hortense, we shot that last summer in Toronto and Jay Baruchel directed this time around and he wrote it and all the usual suspects are back, it’ll be opening at the Toronto Film Festival, that will be huge. I’ve got this big movie with Kevin James and Andy Garcia and Yul Vazquez called The True Memories of an International Assassin. I actually play the president of Venezuela, if you can fucking believe that. A really bad porn mustache, I hate soccer, I love baseball, I miss San Diego, I miss my pet dolphin, I don’t want to be president, I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s a really dark comedy and it was fun to do. I have this beautiful little film called Strange Weather where my mom will be so proud. She can’t believe I’m playing the sweetest guy I’ve ever played in my life, Holly Hunter’s boyfriend, based on a true story. That will be out sometime this fall, I haven’t seen it yet but I’ve heard some great things about it. I did a big western in Vancouver a couple of months ago with Trace Atkins and Judd Nelson, I played Marshal Calhoun and it’s called Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story and that was fun to be back on a horse. I also did a little kids movie in my own province of Saskatchewan, they didn’t think I’d do it but yeah, the scripts great, I’m coming. I played Uncle Ozzie, with these four little kids, it’ll be out on Halloween and it’s called The Adventure Club and that was so much fun so there you go, right? A total different arena for all seven parts.
I want to thank Kim Coates for taking the time to talk with us