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Sons of Anarchy first aired in 2008, but a lot of the footage from the first version didn’t make it into the final episode. In fact, most of the pilot had to be reshot, and creator Kurt Sutter even recast the character of Clay Morrow. Years later when the spinoff series Mayans MC was filming its pilot, it too needed to be reworked.

Kurt Sutter rewrote the Sons of Anarchy and Mayans MC pilots. Sutter wears a black t-shirt and glasses.
Kurt Sutter | Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb

Kurt Sutter rewrote the ‘Sons of Anarchy’ pilot to include more dark humor

Although Sons of Anarchy ended in 2014, Kurt Sutter has been sneaking in some fun easter eggs and answering fan questions on his Twitter for years. In a post on March 1, he revealed that the cast and crew ended up reshooting the majority of the Sons of Anarchy pilot.

“We shot the SOA pilot twice. Did the same for Mayans interestingly enough,” Sutter wrote. “Almost the same reasons. The first pilot lacked a buoyancy. It was too heavy, took itself too seriously. The thing I loved about hanging with MCs was the reverie. The 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 of darker humor.”

The ‘Sons of Anarchy’ pilot went through significant casting changes

Perhaps the biggest change was that club president Clay Morrow was portrayed by Scott Glen in the first version. “With the changes to the script, the character of Clay morphed into someone else,” Sutter wrote on Twitter. Eventually, Ron Perlman was given the role. However, Sutter revealed that the original warehouse explosion scene was not reshot, and if you look closely, you can tell that the body type of Clay running away from the blast belongs to Scott Glen.

During an episode of the podcast Reaper Reviews, Sons of Anarchy stars Kim Coates and Theo Rossi discussed the original pilot. Rossi revealed that Emilio Rivera was originally cast as a member of the Sons named Hawk. He was Clay’s, right-hand man. Coates character Tig was not a part of the original pilot at all. When the episode was reshot, Rivera was recast as Alvarez, the leader of the Mayans MC, and Coates was brought in to play Tig Trager.


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‘Mayans MC’ also had to be reshot for the pilot

Sons of Anarchy isn’t the only show that went through extensive reshoots for its pilot episode. The same thing happened with the spinoff series Mayans MC. “Ironically, I don’t know why I was surprised,” Sutter told of the decision to reshoot.

“It was the same situation we had on Sons, we had major recast and we reshot 95% of the pilot and that’s gonna happen again. What it does for me is it allows me to watch it and then go what didn’t work, what did work, and really do a big rewrite.”

Unlike Son of Anarchy, however, it doesn’t seem like the Mayans MC pilot reshoot involved recasting such huge main characters. Instead, characters who didn’t work for the show were taken out. Sutter said at the time, “I think the story will be the story, and literally most of the casting changes are elimination, meaning like we realized we were trying to tell too big of a story, so a lot of the casting stuff is losing characters, or introducing characters later on.”