‘Sons of Anarchy’: Ron Perlman Wasn’t the First Choice for Clay Morrow

by Joe Rutland

It’s hard to believe that an actor like Ron Perlman was not the first choice to play Clay Morrow on Sons of Anarchy. What did happen here?

Perlman has quite a resume’ of top-notch performances over a stellar career. Let us get some information about this with some help from Looper.

Well, the actor who played Clay Morrow first was actually Scott Glenn. Yes, “that” Scott Glenn from movies like The Right Stuff, Backdraft, and The Silence of the Lambs. Dare we leave out HBO’s The Leftovers? He played Clay in the pilot for Sons of Anarchy.

‘Sons of Anarchy’ Ended Up Not Being A Good Fit For Actor Scott Glenn

He was the pick of creator Kurt Sutter for the role. But that didn’t last long. He was in the pilot and then gone. Why? In the end, apparently, Glenn was not as big of a character as the show needed him to be for playing Clay.

Just to let Sons of Anarchy fans know, all is OK between Glenn, Sutter, and Perlman. In a 2015 interview with The A.V. Club, Glenn praised Sutter’s work before admitting he was relieved Sons of Anarchy didn’t work out.

“I think he’s a really good writer [Sutter], so this is no reflection on him,” Glenn said. “It was ultimately probably one of the better things that could’ve happened to me. 

Perlman Had A Lot of Kind Words To Say About Glenn In Wake Of Role

“Because of how long the series ran, and because, you know, if you’re going to be in a series and it has commercial breaks…people say, ‘Oh, there’s a difference between cable and network,'” he says. “And my response to that is, ‘No, there’s a difference between sponsored and not sponsored.’ Non-sponsored is a degree of free air that you’re breathing that sponsored doesn’t give you. They don’t take a break every 15 minutes to try and sell you Tylenol.”

Also, Perlman addressed the Sons of Anarchy cast shakeup to NPR’s Terry Gross the same year. The actor appreciated Glenn and admitted that he might have had an inside route to the role. At least, how Sutter wanted Clay to be played.

“The original actor is a brilliant actor,” Perlman said. “I’m a huge fan of his. But he’s a very subtle guy. And he has a very kind of a quiet, understated presence about him, which, in terms of this particular guy, Clay Morrow, they were looking for way more dynamic.

“They were looking for higher highs and lower lows […],” Perlman said. “So I understood going into it that, you know — that they were looking for a more operatic version of this guy.”