Kim Coates Interview: "Sons of Anarchy" Star Talks "Texas Jack," Shakespeare and Kevin James
Image attributed to Kim Coates
Canadian-American actor Kim Coates starred as Alexander “Tig” Trager in the FX series Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014). Other television appearances include Miami Vice, The Outer Limits, Prison Break, Smallville, Entourage and Crossing Lines. Coates has worked on Broadway portraying Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire and in the lead role of Macbeth performed at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.
Film roles include Last Man Standing, The Last Boy Scout, Waterworld, Carpool, Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down, Open Range, Assault on Precinct 13, Silent Hill, Goon, Officer Downe and Goon: Last of the Enforcers, to name a few.
"I work very hard, but you’re not going to see me in a club dancing on a naked chick. It’s just not going to happen. I really realized you just need to calm down a little bit and focus on less and still be the guy you are. If you do that, I think you’re going to succeed instead of being all over the map. Sometimes, I feel that I still fail at it today, but I think I’m getting better at it."
Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story, starring Coates, Grammy winner Trace Adkins and Judd Nelson, is released November 4, 2016, in top markets, Video on Demand and Digital HD. The film is loosely based on the real-life exploits of 19th century American outlaw Nathaniel Reed.
Kim Coates: Melissa, is that you?
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Hi Kim, how are you today?
Kim Coates: You know how important you are? Let me tell you. I’m going to put you on a pedestal right now. This is how important you are. I am halfway through my dinner, and I’ve got 29,000 interviews to do tonight, and I’ve got 24 hours at home. But, that’s how important you are. I put my fork down, and I’m coming back to talk to you.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Wow. 29,000. I wish you a lot of luck (laughs). I enjoyed your performance in Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story. You’ve done maybe a handful of westerns in your career?
Kim Coates: I think Texas Jack is about my 8th western. But, the only other one that people really saw was Open Range with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall. I played one of the lead bad guys with Michael Gambon. I come riding in, and my arm’s in a sling, and I get shot between the eyes by Costner. It’s kind of a funny way to go. I love westerns.
My first one was with the late great Chris Reeve. I think it was the last film he did before his tragic accident. Chris was a gazelle on a horse. He was the smoothest rider I’ve ever been with, truly. Tragically, how he fell off the horse, though, is another story now. I learned a lot from Chris about riding horses. The only bad thing about Texas Jack is that there’s not a lot of riding.
Do you know, Melissa, that we shot that whole film in 14 or 15 days? Isn’t that crazy? I don’t know how old you are, darling, but I’ve been around the block. I remember back in the 90s, and this movie, Texas Jack, would be shot in 35, 38 days. Now, it’s 14, 15, and that’s what you get. Some are big. Some are small.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How did you become involved in the film?
Kim Coates: Jack Nasser, the producer, had offered me Marshal Calhoun three years ago, but I couldn’t do it because of Sons of Anarchy. He held on to it because he really wanted me to play this guy. I read it and really liked it. There were some issues, but I worked out those issues with Terry Miles, the director, and we made the script even better.
There’s still a couple of storylines that we couldn’t quite grasp at the level I wanted, but we made it better. Trace Adkins is amazing, and Judd Nelson is completely out of his mind crazy and kooky. But, we had a lot of fun in a very short period of time, and I was very proud as to how it turned out.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Marshal Calhoun is a little quirky, or did you add your special “off-the-cuff” comedy relief to the role?
Kim Coates: (laughs) I did. I did bring off-the-cuff to him because it’s based on a true story. We all know that, or people will know that when they get a chance to see the film. There really was this guy, Nathaniel Reed, and he became the biggest stagecoach robber. My guy, who’s not a Marshal yet, gets shot in the eye the first scene in the movie. It takes my eye right out.
I become this incredible bad-to-the-bone marshal, and of course, Reed wants to give up the life of crime and hide in a ranch with his beautiful wife, Laura Lee, and never go back to it. But, as you saw, unforeseen circumstances bring him back into the fray in a big, big way. Then I show up with my sidekick, Bonnie Mudd, played beautifully by Helena Marie.
I love the story of how I was sort of so good and then turned into a bad-to-the-bone sheriff. It was great fun to play him. I always love bringing humor to my parts. Sometimes, you can’t and it’s not right. This is a drama, right? If you don’t have humor in certain dramas, they’re not as good. God, I had fun! I just had fun with Calhoun. I really did.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did wearing an eye patch bother you while filming?
Kim Coates: Well, Melissa, it kind of did. It was weird, but you have to get used to it because that’s the story, right? The props guy did a great job in getting me this really comfortable eye patch, but I’ve been told that sometimes you can see through an eye patch. I couldn’t see through this one worth a shit. So, I was one-eyed. It was super comfortable, but it was really kind of weird. My internal way of working was kind of fun for me.
I’ve never worn a patch like that, one you couldn’t see through. I played a pirate in a play way back in college, but it’s not like wearing a patch while you’re riding a horse and shooting guns. We had some long, long scenes. But, I used it. I think I used it. It was a fun challenge for me.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You’ve said that you took drama “by chance” in college?
Kim Coates: I did, Melissa, yeah. I stumbled upon it. I was going to be a history teacher. History was my major, and I took an acting class for fun. I thought I’d certainly meet girls, for sure. I was kind of a redneck in high school and had a muscle car, a ’58 Chevy Impala and a ’68 Galaxie 500. I was captain of the football team and played hockey my whole life. That was my life.
Taking a drama class changed everything. Everything. I discovered Shakespeare, Bernard Shaw and Tennessee Williams, and it blew my mind. I ended up doing 24 or 25 plays in a four-year period, including summer stock, and it became evident, when we won first at the Edinburgh Drama Festival that I needed to do this for my life. I needed to be an actor.
I took it very seriously and moved to Toronto. I’m Canadian first and an American also. I’m proud of both, but I’m a Canadian first. I went on to Toronto, got a big agent, and he said, “Okay. So, tough guy. Yeah. Let’s go. Movies.” I went, “No. More stage. More theater.” I was the youngest Macbeth at Stratford. I was 26 when I played Macbeth. We toured around the States.
A New York agent saw my work and said, “You’ve got to come to New York.” I did and signed with SAG. I did a Miami Vice with Don Johnson, took over for Aidan Quinn on Broadway in A Streetcar Names Desire, and it was on. Hollywood discovered me then and I haven’t stopped.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you miss being on the stage?
Kim Coates: I do. The last play I did was 1990, if you can believe it. I’ve been offered many stage roles, but I said “No” because I was doing a TV thing or a film thing. But, now, it’s time to go back. My kids are older. They’ve never seen their father on stage. It’s time. And, I will. Soon. There’s something brewing, but I can’t tell you what it is. I’m pretty excited about it. I can’t tell you now, Melissa. But, I’ll talk to you again.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you satisfied with your career path these last couple of years after Sons of Anarchy?
Kim Coates: I am, baby. I’ve always trusted my gut, and I’m glad I trusted my gut, with my wife’s insistence, in saying “Yes” to Sons when they offered me Tig Trager. I never wanted to play a regular on a television show. I just wanted to keep doing my films and my guest roles. I’m really glad I said “Yes” because I had no idea of the power of television, when people watch you on a massive hit show every Tuesday night for seven years. That was 92 performances. They can’t get over how the series ended or the moments. They get so attached, right?
I am thrilled that we did Sons and that it’s over. I’ll never forget it. But now, I’m working on my 9th project in Montreal. Last one of the year. Epic. Just massive. I’m #1 on the call sheet. It’s a true story, well, I can’t say anything more. The deal is, “Yes. I’m happy.” I’m always desiring more and I’m producing now. I love what I do. I’m just rally blessed to be able to be offered all of this incredible stuff.
It’s all different now, right? Sons is over. This will be my 9th completely different character, which is what I’ve always done, and I’m back doing it now. I wasn’t when I was doing Sons and that was fine. That was the way it was. I was lucky to be in that show, and they were lucky to have me. Now, I’m doing little movies like Texas Jack that we made for a nickel and a half, and it’s getting a major release on November 4 in ten cities in America plus Video on Demand. I couldn’t be happier for a little film we shot in 14, 15 days.
I’ve also finished starring in a massive Netflix six-part, six-month shoot. Scott Frank write and directed and it’s called Godless. That’s a $90 million project, you know what I mean? It’s great to be on a very diverse, beautiful path right now.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You also have a film coming up for Netflix with Kevin James called True Memoirs of an International Assassin.
Kim Coates: I do, yeah. It’s funny, honey. Make sure you see it. I play a good guy. I’m a very misunderstood president of a certain country that has a really bad mustache. He’s really from San Diego and he misses his pet dolphin. He hates soccer and he’s running a South American country.
I’ll leave it at that, but it’s freaking funny! Kevin’s hysterical. I worked with him before. Andy Garcia, my good pal, is in it with me. Oh, my God! We had fun filming that. So, yeah, it comes out November 11 on Netflix. Netflix is just sort of dominating everything now. They’re kind of monsters in the streaming TV world.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I think you have a great sense of comedic timing and should do a TV sitcom.
Kim Coates: I do, too, actually! I really do. I’ve got to tell you. Kevin James is such a good pal. He wants me to do his show that he’s doing right now on CBS, but I just don’t have any time. I’d love to work with him again. But, thank you, my darling, for understanding humor and comedy!
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Your Twitter quote is, “I can’t tell you how to succeed … but I can tell you how to fail, by trying to please everyone.” Is that from personal experience?
Kim Coates: Yeah. Yeah, it is. I worked really hard in my younger years in all those plays I mentioned and trying to figure out, “Oh, my God, an actor? Really? That’s what I’m going to do?” I tried so hard to organize this and do this and help this person. What I was finding was that early, it was harming my craft, and I’m a good guy. I’m a family guy. I love my buddies. I love it all.
I work very hard, but you’re not going to see me in a club dancing on a naked chick. It’s just not going to happen. I really realized you just need to calm down a little bit and focus on less and still be the guy you are. If you do that, I think you’re going to succeed instead of being all over the map. Sometimes, I feel that I still fail at it today, but I think I’m getting better at it.
The only thing is, Melissa, I really am so proud. I have a huge movie opening called Officer Downe. It’s going to be in select theaters plus VOD on November 18. It’s a heavy, hard, R-rated film, based on the Officer Downe comic book. I play Officer Downe. I can’t wait for people to see that. The Land opened this past summer. It got sold right away. I’ve got a beautiful film with Holly Hunter called Strange Weather that opened at the Toronto Film Festival, and Goon: Last of the Enforcers is opening year year. Godless, which I mentioned, is coming out.
I’ve got The Adventure Club, which opened at the Cavalry Film Festival. It’s opening in theaters, and it’s a kids’ movie, which I don’t do a lot of. I’ve maybe done two. The diversity in the parts is what’s really exciting me. I just can’t wait for people to see Kim Coates post Sons of Anarchy, and that’s the truth.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Thanks for taking the time, Kim. I’ll let you get to those other 28,999 interviews!
Kim Coates: Thank you so much, Melissa! I hope we can talk again. Have a beautiful fall, sweetheart.
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