Kim Coates is one of the most memorable supporting actors in television, and he's now stepping into the spotlight as the lead actor on CityTV's mobster drama, Bad Blood.
Bad Blood is the latest in a long line of crowdpleasing projects Coates has been apart of. He can be seen in Netflix's Godless, the Seann William Scott hockey comedy Goon and, of course, the beloved FX drama Sons of Anarchy.
But before Coates portrayed the S.O.A. biker Tig Traeger or the Bad Blood mobster Declan Gardiner, he was just a young Canadian guy trying to make it through his tenure at the University of Saskatchewan.
"I stumbled into this. Right? I never saw a play in high school, didn't know what a soliloquy was. I had no clue about anything other than hockey. Being a proud Canadian boy, I knew sports," Coates told PopCulture.com Wednesday in a phone interview. "I did OK at school, but I stumbled into acting in college. I took an acting class for fun, to meet girls, to just have fun. I was going to be a history teacher."
That simple elective drama course seemed to change the course of Coates' life. From there, Coates performed in several plays with the university's troupe. He and his fellow actors took their production of David Freeman's Creeps, a play about cerebral palsy, to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe during his sophomore year. Coates and company ended up taking home a Fringe First, the festival's top prize.
After a brush with success at a competition, the now-star says he knew the path he had to follow.
"I knew then that, when we won the Fringe First, we were first place, this little Canadian University won the whole thing. I knew that on the plane coming home back to Canada that I was going to be a professional actor," Coates said. "I just knew then that this is what I need to do. Here we are talking to you. I guess it's all worked out."
From there, Coates did not make the typical move to Los Angeles or New York City, as many aspiring actors do. He instead stayed in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and cut his chops in 25 productions while still an undergrad. He then moved to Toronto and joined several more productions, including a starring role in Macbeth at the Stratford Festival.
New York agents then came calling, landing him work on Broadway before making the jump to Los Angeles.
"I just kept working so hard and making good decisions on the parts I would take and the people I met," Coates said. "With all the ups and downs, that's what led me to ... Now, I live everywhere, and now I can pretty much do what I want. It's a great position to be in."
Throughout his Hollywood career, Coates has been involved in all kinds of projects, from blockbusters like Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down to TV series such as Prison Break, Smallville and CSI: Miami. Fans will often note that Coates plays "tough guys," whether they're brutal criminals or no-nonsense law enforcement agents. While he recognizes he is somewhat typecast in that role, he strives to give the audience far more than a one-note portrayal.
"I am who I am. Robert De Niro said, 'Everyone gets typecast. It's just what you do with that kind of casting, and what kind of types you play.' But everyone's typecast," Coates said. "For me, I've always looked at it as being lucky. I guess I'm a tough guy. You know? I give good creep. I love comedy. But I love finding out the truths of these bad boys I play. Trust me when I say this, since the end of Sons of Anarchy, even before, I turn down 70 percent of the offers that are offered to me. The guys that don't interest me at all."
Coates notes Godlesss character Ed Logan and Bad Blood's Declan as notable instances where there was high quality and depth to push the characters to another level. He also points out that he tried to turn down his S.O.A role due to not seeing the long-game the show's creator, Kurt Sutter, had in mind.
"I said, 'Nope. Not doing it. It's too violent,'" Coates reveals. "[Kurt] couldn't show me much. ... Kurt looked at me and said, 'Please come for this ride, because this guy, yep, he's tough. He's psychotic. Yeah. He's a bullet ready to be fired all the time. But he's loyal, and he's a dog, and he will protect people. He will be funny, and he will cry. He will end up being one of the moral compasses of this club.'"
Coates continues, "You know what? Kurt was right. He didn't lie to me. That's exactly what happened over seven years. You need to take a leap of faith. If you say yes to a series and it ends up being a hit, you just hope that that character will go — maybe not even where you saw it go — but to a place where you're comfortable in playing, or at least stretching you as a character. That's what Tig did with me. I really got to stretch with that guy."
In Bad Blood, Coates is stepping into another ruthless character. The mob series, which is based on the real-life exploits of the Rizzuto crime family, put Coates in the role of the organization's enforcer. Season 1 sets him up as the outsider sharing his view of the underworld with the audience.
"Declan Gardiner, he's a perfect example of this guy was born to be a mobster," Coates said. "But there's always someone darker, or worse, or more ruthless. That's what makes you want to watch these characters. ... Some of the scenes I had in the first season, I didn't say a word, but it was all seen through my eyes. In other scenes, I couldn't stop talking. He was a powder keg that didn't explode very often, because he kept all his emotions in."
The second season shifts gears, putting Declan as the mob's leader after some twists and upheavals at the end of season 1. It also breaks away from season 1's source material, Antonio Nicaso and Peter Edwards' book Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto's Last War. This new direction is taking the show on a bold new path, one that Coates could not be more excited about.
"I'm still finding stuff out about Declan," Coates said. "For me, it's always in the writing. It's always in the storytelling. We got real lucky with casting and editing it, and the music. It's powerful stuff. I'm really proud of it."0comments
Bad Blood season 2's Canadian premiere is Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on CityTV. Details on a U.S. release for the series are expected later in 2018.
Photo Credit: CityTV