Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter has revealed the reason why Ron Perlman replaced actor Scott Glenn (Daredevil, Castle Rock) as Clay Morrow in the series. Glen had been initially cast in the role and shot a pilot episode. Later, a second pilot was shot with Perlman, who ended up playing the iconic character. In a fan Q-and-A on social media, Sutter has explained how it all came to be.
"We shot the SOA pilot twice. Did the same for Mayans interestingly enough. Almost the same reasons. Scott Glen is a powerhouse of an actor. His take on Clay was potent and compelling. But the first pilot lacked a buoyancy. It was too heavy, took itself too seriously. The thing I loved about hanging with MC's was the reverie. These guys laughed and had fun. You have to find a release when you live in such a dangerous world. So I rewrote the script. Added a lot darker humor. With those changes, the character of Clay morphed into someone else. That's when we decided to recast. John Landgraf and I each put together a list of who we thought was the best actor for this new incarnation. Ron Perlman was at the top of both of our lists."
Question from Wendi Gee MacAllister on Facebook: Why did you change the actor playing Clay from Scott Glenn to @perlmutations? What didn’t you like about the first pilot? #SutterThinks #soa pic.twitter.com/kkQu9Fdphf— kurt sutter (@sutterink) July 14, 2020
After his exit from Sons of Anarchy, Perlman did an interview with NPR's Fresh Air and spoke about his time on the show. Throughout the conversation, Perlman revealed that he did know how to ride a motorcycle before taking on the role of Clay, after first learning "to ride...for a movie that never happened." He continued: "So just as I was getting my sea legs under me, it got pulled out from under me. And I never rode any more than that until Sons of Anarchy came around. And depending on who you ask, I never did much riding after the fact, either." Perlman then confessed, "Me and the bike - we - let's put it this way - I'd rather be eating Haagen-Dazs."
Perlman later opened up about whether he and the other stars of the show met with any real motorcycle gang members ahead of the series being picked up. "That was all done for us. You know, Kurt Sutter created the show. He spent a lot of time in Northern Cali, hanging out with the real deal guys," Perlman admitted. "What you see in a lot of movies - you see a lot of movies about motorcycle gangs, and everybody's scratching, and everybody's fat and everybody's hairy. And, you know, it's kind of like - it's almost like a caricature version."