Catherine participated in a conference call with the talented
Rockmond Dunbar, Charming's new lawman "Eli
Roosevelt" on Sons of Anarchy, which
airs Tuesdays at 10 PM on FX.
Dunbar, who may be relatively new to Charming, is no stranger
to the world of acting and was more than willing to share
about his role on SOA, his insight into writing, his previous
works and much more! Read below to discover everything he
had to share!
Do you think 'Eli's' going along with 'Linc' now because
he has no choice or do you think he believes it's the right
thing to do to take on the club?
I think we just wrapped the full season so I kind of know
where it's going and where it ends and I can't tell you,
unfortunately, but, it's going to be a really interesting
twist. Everyone thinks that they know exactly what's going
on but Kurt is so genius with his writing and storytelling
that you'll never be able to figure it out.
Is it more fun for you to play a cop or a bad guy?
It's fun to work … on most characters that are three dimensional.
I love characters that basically have something to say and
a lot to do. I love characters that are conflicted, characters
that are not just surface presentational models basically,
so this character's definitely a job.
I loved the last character that I played, 'Mark Gustafson,'
with FX - another great character that Sean Ryan created.
So yes, I don't think it's an either/or thing…it's more
the basis of the character and if the character's three
dimensional or not, and then I get to play and have fun.
Why do you think 'Eli' would have become a police officer
originally when he left …?
A little back story is he comes from a long line of police
officers. He actually grew up within the neighborhood. Grew
up within the area, loves the area, loves the Bay area,
and went to school outside of the area, and then came back
home, so he loves the area just as much as the bikers do.
He's probably at the end of the day I'm not sure how many
generations down the line but he comes from a decent lineage
of police officers.
Are we going to see more of his wife and that side of
the story as the season goes on?
It's really interesting and that's probably a question
for Kurt or the writers. I have no idea. When we were actually
filming the show you didn't know what was going to happen
until you sat down in the read through and started to read
the script. You had no idea what was going to happen.
How would you compare playing 'Detective Mark' on Terriers
to 'Sheriff Eli' on Sons of Anarchy?
Two totally different characters. Two totally different
personalities and hopefully I'm portraying that and they
don't look exactly the same. I think FX gave me the opportunity
to play a different character and knew that I could play
it, and hopefully that's shining through.
But they're both two totally different ways of policing,
and I couldn't even choose like a favorite to tell you the
truth because I actually loved playing 'Mark Gustafson'
and I love playing 'Eli' now.
Now, Peter Weller's directing an incredible episode
so what was it like working with him again?
Peter is great. I absolutely love working with Peter. I
love working with actors that turn directors and really
know the language and how to speak to an actor to get an
actor to a certain point. I think actors make wonderful
directors period so it's really great working with Peter.
I love his sensibility. I love his way of storytelling
and his eye. He has a really great eye for pulling the story
together and actually getting an actor to a space where
playing the field is really comfortable, and he brings out
the best work in you.
It seems to me that 'Eli's' position on SAMCRO seems
to have softened and he's become more disapproving of 'Potter's'
antics. You know we see him stand up but his thoughts about
how he sees the Sons are not really shared. Can you share
with us what is going on in 'Eli's' mind and has his views
on the … has changed based on the resent events?
I think it's going to be very clear towards the end of
the season. Those thoughts will actually be verbalized and
played into action. But to give you where he is right now
he doesn't like to be manipulated or bend to do things that
are unnecessary. He does like to be fair but at the same
time his life of criminal activity is really harsh.
So what's going on in his mind right now is he's being
manipulated and he doesn't like it, and he's trying to figure
out how to get out of this situation but also how to police
his town. It's very, very difficult when you are under the
strong hold of another government official and can be put
in the position where you might not be able to do the things
that you love, and so he's trying to figure that out. He's
very, very conflicted.
Have his views on the Sons changed at all?
I don't think his views on the Sons have changed. It might
look like his views on the Sons have changed because of
where the line is being softened but if he wasn't being
manipulated it would still be the same thing.
If the Sons … doing drugs, there's no drugs in his town.
The Sons are trafficking guns and he knows about it. He'll
police that way. But I don't think his view of the Sons
is changing. I think his view of the situation is changing
because he's being manipulated.
We've seen mention of how 'Eli' is experienced with
dealing with gangs and we all know what happened in the
last year in Charming, so can you tell us what do you, in
your opinion, think he's trying to do differently not to
fall into the same situation?
don't think he's doing anything differently. He's being
himself. He's absolutely just doing what he does best and
trying to put it into place in the situation where everyone
is treated the same, but, again, that manipulation is being
turned over. But outside of that I can tell you this; I
started off when I came into the office to speak to Kurt
about the character and what he wanted to do with the character.
Initially our first conversation was, "Hey, look
man, we're going to bring you in for a ten episode arc.
You're going to die. It's going to be great. I don't know
what your demise is going to be but of course it's going
to be brutal because you know our show." And that was
my contract. That's what I knew my contract to be.
I signed up for it at the very beginning. But once the
tenth episode came then that changed so I don't know what's
going to happen with the character. I have no idea if-well,
the way it's being set up now there will be some type of
continuation but I don't die so that's one good thing. But
It says that you've also written, produced, and directed
numerous projects. I was wondering what attributes or what
do you admire about the writers and the staff for Sons of
The challenges that they put themselves in. I love writers
that paint themselves into a corner and don't know where
they're going to go next. It's easy to do a procedural show
and say, "Okay. Well, we're going to tackle this criminal
activity and we already know what the scenario's going to
But when you paint yourself into a corner, and you don't
know where you're going to go, you don't know how you're
going to get out of it but you know you have to because
you have to have another episode because you've been picked
up for 13 or 22 or whatever the case may be, that's the
type of challenges that I love.
And I think these writers do a really great job of that,
of challenging themselves to take it to the next level and
the dialog is crisp and the characters all speak differently,
but the words are easy enough on the tongue. Because sometimes
a writer … so much and try to get all the exposition out
where it becomes boring and the actors feel like models
but you never feel like that on this show.
You're telling a story but also you're not just saying
it with the words you're actually showing people what's
going on and what's happening. And I think that's good writing
when you can show and not tell. But that's one of the attributes
of the writer and the staff and Kurt that I absolutely love.
They paint themselves into a corner, you don't know how
they're going to get out of it, but you know they have to.
Since portraying 'Eli' on the show, how have your perceptions
changed or even possibly cultivated about motorcycle gangs?
I have family members that were in the first Black Harley
motorcycle gang, The East Bay Dragons, so I grew up with
a healthy perception of motorcycle gangs. And I'm from Oakland,
California so that says it all right there.
It's family. It's strong hardcore family, so my perception
has never changed. I have two huge dragons tattooed on my
forearms for a reason and I've always had an affinity for
the family aspect of motorcycle organizations and I always