Sons of Anarchy, Henry Rollins and a few good musician-actors

Last night, FX aired the “Sons of Anarchy” season finale to the largest audience in the show’s history. And it was a doozy of a show, and no doubt will draw more people into the show’s Hamlet-inspired tale of a California biker gang caught in the eye of an ideological storm when the third series debut’s next fall.

Until then, fans will have to ponder the fate of every character on the show and remember some of the odd twists and turns the series took this year. One of the great things I’ll remember from this season is the appearance of one Henry Rollins. The punk icon played A.J. Weston, a white supremacist and right hand man to the villainous Ethan Zobelle, and Rollins looked practically enraged in every scene he was in this season. Though Rollins himself is far from racist (after all, the man grew up idolizing Bad Brains, D.C.’s all-black punk band), it’s the kind of role he’s perfect at playing, as Rollins practically evokes images of punk rawk anger with every tattoo and squinted stare. The show’s producers must have consulted Rollins’s past as the confrontational frontman for L.A. hardcore act Black Flag when they cast him in this role.

Though Weston remained a minor character on “Sons,” Rollins’s portrayal of the practically insane Weston cemented a certain image of “eveeeil” for the biker gang’s newfound enemies. Rollins hardly spoke as much as he shot nasty looks and stood around menacingly, and that was enough to fill up every scene Rollins was in.

Rollins’s A.J. Weston brings to mind some other musicians who have tried their hand at acting. Here are a few musicians who’s acting roles certainly relied on the history of the individuals performing them. These three characters were relatively minor, yet, just as A.J. Weston brought an iconic sense of red-blooded anger to “Sons” (as if the show needed any more of it), these three roles did add a bit of weight to their stories.

Iggy Pop – James Mecklenberg, “The Adventures of Pete & Pete”:

Though Pop cropped up in just a few episodes of the beloved Nickelodeon television show, his brief role as Nona’s (a very young Michelle Trachtenberg) father said more about Nona’s home life than an entire season’s worth of dialogue ever could. Pop’s lanky frame and foreboding stare provided a bit of an explanation for those odd little quirks that popped up in Nona’s personality. Though, in the Pete & Pete universe, quirkiness was just plain normal.

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Mark Kozelek – Larry Fellows, Almost Famous:

Kozelek’s Larry Fellows was the oft-reserve bass player in Stillwater, the fictional ’70s rock band at the center focus of young William Miller’s attention in Almost Famous. Aside from a funny little line about high school girls and starting a to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” Kozelek mostly sunk into the background. And yet, that’s exactly what he was brought to do: the former Red House Painters frontman (and currently the sole musician in Sun Kil Moon) brought a sense of real-world blues authenticity to a fake band obsessed with the electrified version of the blues. What’s more appealing about a band that talks about all the tales of blues and rock than having someone who’s lived that life out and seems to bear that joy and pain in every tired-eyed look. And the long hair doesn’t hurt either.

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Mos Def – Big Blak Afrika, Bamboozled:

Def’s Bamboozled role is slightly larger than those played by the other musicians on this list, but considering the large cast in Spike Lee’s lukewarmly received film, it’s easy to forget Def was ever in the movie. Def practically chewed up the scenery as leader of the faux underground hip-hop collective, the Mau Maus: Lee no doubt knew a little something about Def’s illustrious hip-hop career and kept it in mind when he cast Def as leader of the Mau Maus. If only some of the other actors in the movie had the same vibrant and tenacious take on their characters as Def was with the small chunk of time Big Blak Afrika was onscreen.

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6 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Michael Roston #

    May I propose another? I thought Tricky’s turn as Gary Oldman’s tremendously ineffectual lackey in ‘The Fifth Element’ was awesome. He was kind of a terrible actor, and that was pretty much the point.

  2. Leor Galil #

    So true! And that was on my list that I (quite unfortunately) did not write down, and that was the exact one that I forgot. Thanks for that Michael!

    Also, Courtney Love as Gretchen in Sid and Nancy, but she was hardly in that movie to begin with… But anyway, nice one with Tricky! ‘Fifth Element,’ what a movie!

  3. Colin Horgan #

    would like to give a shout-out to mediocre, yet timeless, acting by Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, and Jeff Ament as the other members of Citizen Dick in another Cameron Crowe joint, ‘Singles’…

  4. Colin Horgan #

    Sorry, had to add this: Kurt Cobain reveals why Nirvana wasn’t in ‘Singles’: “I said no before even asking you guys. That’s because I’m the leader of the band.” Hilarious.
    That is all. I’ll show myself out.

  5. Leor Galil #

    You know, I never got around the seeing ‘Singles,’ despite my curiosity and the large cast of grunge characters (Chris Cornell’s in it too I believe), which is part of the reason I didn’t include those guys on the list. But, they seem to be holding it down ok in that scene (though all they really needed to do was look unkempt!)

    And that Nirvana interview about ‘Singles’ is pretty hilarious. I wonder if Cobain would’ve changed his tune about rock movies considering the wave of docs about bands he loved that have come out in the past decade-and-a-half. It’s also a bit funny considering Krist’s response and he was recently in “World’s Greatest Dad” (though a really, really minor bit role.)

  6. andygeiger #

    Courtney Love as Althea Flynt, couldn’t have been better cast.

    Also, shouts out to Jack White in Cold Mountain.

    And no list like this would be complete without mentioning the richest cheese ever cultured, Sting’s performance in Dune.

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