I spoke with Jacob Vargas about his role as Montez on Sons of Anarchy. He talked about the final episodes, Bobby’s death, Tig and Venus, Hunter, his new projects, and so much more. Jacob was so much fun to speak with and one of his first television credits was a role on Hunter. Now that is how you conquer television, Sons of Anarchy and Hunter. They have to be my favorite two television shows ever. Don’t miss the final episodes of Sons of Anarchy, Tuesday nights on FX. I still can’t believe the series is almost over.
Lena: You were in Hunter in the 80s, so you are instantly my TV hero. [Laughing] I loved Hunter.
Jacob Vargas: Oh wow, Hunter. That was a long time ago. I think I was like twelve or thirteen. Hunter was great. Fred Dryer was great—very giving. I was a new actor and he was very patient. I had no idea what the hell I was doing and he let me take my time. He told me not to worry and just hit my mark and say my line. As long as I believed what I was saying, I was going to be okay. Good acting advice from Fred Dryer.
Lena: Congratulations on still being alive on Sons of Anarchy.
Jacob Vargas: That’s an amazing feat, to still be alive. It’s funny because that’s kind of the game that we all play. We all knew that it was the final season so Kurt at the table read would say, “Look, it’s the final season so heads are going to role. It’s all a matter of when.” We would all just look at the scripts to see if we were alive in the end. If we were alive then we would celebrate and if not, hey, it’s the end of the road.
Lena: Montez did get hit in the head.
Jacob Vargas: He did get hit in the head with a crowbar. He will learn next time not to trust anybody.
Lena: What do you think about being referred to as “the littlest outlaw?”
Jacob Vargas: I laughed. I thought it was funny. I guess it has now taken off. Everybody is calling him the littlest outlaw. Paris Barclay, our director, loved it. He loved calling me that. I think he got the biggest kick out of it than anyone. He just laughed every time he said, “Hey, let’s get the littlest outlaw out here. Let’s do the littlest outlaw’s close-up now.” I think it’s cool. I think it’s a term of endearment. It’s like welcome to the club guys. You get a crap nickname and you are going to hate it. I guess that’s part of initiating somebody into the family.
Lena: As expected, the final season has been intense.
Jacob Vargas: You have to go out with a bang. It’s nice to hear the fans really excited about the show. People just can’t wait until the next episode. I think it’s great—the writing and the acting. I just love watching the guys take the words and do some beautiful things with them—just bring them to life.
Lena: They killed off Bobby (Mark Boone Junior) and Montez had to help dig his grave.
Jacob Vargas: That was tough. I was probably the closet to Bobby. Not only did his character bring me into the group when I was a NOMAD, he also kind of took me under his wing. He always took time to say “hello” and “how are you doing?” It was kind of tough coming into a show six seasons in. I did five episodes last season sporadically and he was always very generous. He took the time to talk to me and bring me into the group and bring me into the conversation. That will never be lost. It was very sad when I read that they were killing him off. It was a very emotional table read.
Lena: It was brutal to watch.
Jacob Vargas: Yes. That’s what is so beautiful about him. When we did the table read he got a standing ovation and everybody had good things to say about him. He was a mentor to a lot of actors. One thing that I remember is that everybody said thank you to him for taking the time to help them with their acting. People would go to him for his wisdom. That was a beautiful thing to see.
Lena: That is so sweet. I’m sure there were real tears because Mark Boone Jr. deserves real tears.
Jacob Vargas: There were real tears. It was a tough episode to shoot.
Lena: What was it like on set after all of that went down?
Jacob Vargas: It was tough. I loved hanging out with him and just talking shop. I miss that. I did miss him on set.
Lena: He is a great guy. All of the cast members that I’ve ever met have been fantastic. They really treat their fans like gold.
Jacob Vargas: They are all a lot of fun. You always get a good laugh on set. It’s like they assembled a bunch of crazy guys to do the show, and they really are nuts—most of them are certifiable, but in a great way. [Laughing] They love their fans. On set location there would always be about twenty or thirty people that would sit out there every day and on their way home they would get off their motorcycles and say hello and take pictures. They were very grateful and appreciated their fans.
Lena: So much went down in that last episode and that opening scene had to be one of the best in the show’s history.
Jacob Vargas: Yeah, I’ve been hearing about how much I missed out. Montez didn’t get any that night. Can’t Montez just get a little, Kurt? [Laughing]
Lena: Well, if they did that with everyone that would take a whole hour on its own. [DVD special feature? Whom would they pair Unser up with?]
Jacob Vargas: That’s true but who wouldn’t want to see the littlest outlaw getting it on?
Lena: [Laughing] Tig (Kim Coates) and Venus (Walton Goggins), now that’s the ultimate love story.
Jacob Vargas: I love that storyline. In that episode when they had the kiss, Kim played it so beautifully—so touching and so real that I was rooting for them. I really wanted them to work out. It’s great seeing it. It’s pretty groundbreaking. SAMCRO breaks a lot of barriers on the show. There are a lot of firsts. There will be many other moments in the show where people are going to go whoa.
Lena: Can you talk about that last episode and what you would do if you were in Jax’s position?
Jacob Vargas: That’s a tough one. He’s caught between a rock and a hard place. I’ll tell you one thing, things are going to get really ugly and are going to unravel. You have to really feel for him and some of the decisions that have to be made. It’s tough and gut wrenching. It’s going to bring tears and tons of surprises. I can’t say too much, obviously, but the last three episodes are going to be killer.
Lena: Gemma (Katey Sagal) definitely needs to pay.
Jacob Vargas: It’s funny because I’ll go to Ralph’s and the guy that cuts the deli meat goes, “You’re the dude from Sons of Anarchy. I have to know, does Gemma get it? She’s got to get it.” They just hate her with passion. I think that’s a nod to what a good actress Katey is. She’s really making people just feel the hatred.
Lena: Just look at how much death and destruction just one of her lies has caused.
Jacob Vargas: Isn’t that amazing?
Lena: Hopefully, Montez will not be in charge of keeping an eye on Gemma again because he failed the last time.
Jacob Vargas: I know. I remember when I read that and thinking okay, that’s it, I’m done. In the next episode, I’m getting killed. I’m going to wind up in a ditch somewhere but luckily, I’m still alive. That’s the thing—you just never know. Kurt writes these things to throw you off. Rusty and I would always say, “Dude, I think we are going to die this week.” Even in episode nine when Jax tells Grant to go to the cabin and he’ll have two of his guys watch him. Rusty called me and said, “Dude, do you know what that means? You and I are going to go and watch over them and they are going to come after us and we are going to die.” [Laughing] There has been a lot of that going on all season.
Lena: We really don’t know a lot about Montez.
Jacob Vargas: No, he’s very mysterious, which I think is kind of cool. He’s not a big talker but he’s very loyal. He gets whatever job that he’s asked done.
Lena: What do you think is going on in his mind?
Jacob Vargas: I think Montez wants more action. He wants a sex scene in the opening of the next episode. That would be great. [Laughing]
Lena: [Laughing] So, with everything that is going down, like people dying, he just wants to have some sex. [Laughing]
Jacob Vargas: Yeah, he wants to have sex. [Laughing] He just wants to be loved. I’m just joking. Montez kind of came in through Bobby because SAMCRO had to regroup in season six so he’s fairly new to all of this. He’s just kind of going, “Holy shit, what did I get myself into?” I think that’s where he’s going. He’s loyal to his club and his President, but holy crap. I learned a lot about motorcycle clubs from Rusty Coones. He’s really been my encyclopedia of motorcycle clubs.
Lena: What is it like being part of the final season of such an iconic series?
Jacob Vargas: I don’t think it really hit me until maybe episode three. I just saw the fans and how involved they are. People have been involved in the show for like seven years and they look forward to it every Tuesday night. Now I’m finally seeing the scope of it. It’s great and an honor to be part of the show.
Lena: There are going to be some huge holes left in FX because not only is Sons of Anarchy ending but Justified is as well.
Jacob Vargas: I think they are going to have to come up with some big shows to fill those holes. I always thought it would be great to do a Mayan spinoff, or something, but who knows what they have planned.
Lena: Did you get to keep anything from the set?
Jacob Vargas: I got to keep my cut. It’s great. It’s hanging in my office right now. That’s the one thing that I wanted to keep. You wear it everyday and it has your blood, sweat, and tears on it so I think it’s only fitting that the actor that wore it everyday gets to keep that piece of history. I really appreciate that the producers let me keep it.
Lena: I really can’t wait to see how it ends.
Jacob Vargas: It’s going to be great. It’s going to be super-emotional. When we shot that thing it was heavy. I remember coming home and being so exhausted—just emotional. I’m pretty sure that it’s going to live up to the fans expectations. I think the audience really has to listen to what the actors are saying because a lot of things kind of come back in the final episodes. Things that people talked about in certain episodes, if you go back and listen to some of the dialog, it will all make sense in the end.
Lena: You have a bunch of other projects coming up like The 33.
Jacob Vargas: Yes, I do. I actually just shot a pilot for Carlton Cuse, the producer of Lost. I got to work with some really good actors—Josh Holloway from Lost and Sarah Wayne Callies from The Walking Dead. We are doing this futuristic story of Los Angles colonized by space aliens. It’s a very interesting take on an alien invasion.
Lena: That’s very different from Sons of Anarchy.
Jacob Vargas: Very different. I have The 33 coming out next year. It’s about the true story of the 33 Chilean miners who spent 69 days trapped in a mine. That was an intense film to work on. I got to work with more great actors: Antonio Banderas, Oscar Nuñez and an international cast of actors. I got to play this great character, a really fascination guy named Edison Peña. Not only was he a Chilean miner, but he was also an Elvis impersonator. Also, while he was trapped he trained for the New York Marathon. It’s amazing. Unfortunately, I never got to meet him. A lot of the actors got to meet the real people that they were playing when we were in Chile, but unfortunately my character had checked into a facility because he was having issues. A lot of these guys are still really affected by their time down there. We shot in the mines, but luckily we were able to come out. We shot all day in real mines in Colombia and we got to come out for an hour for lunch. Just coming out for that one hour, breathing in that fresh air and seeing the sunshine, was so refreshing. I couldn’t imagine just not seeing that for 69 days. I think it’s going to be a beautiful film. It’s a humbling thing as well because these guys banded together and they survived.
Sons of Anarchy airs Tuesday nights at 10 on FX.
Photo: Ben Miller