EW: Venus and Tig’s heart-to-heart follows Jarry and Chibs’ combative love scene. It made me realize that while I understand Jarry’s and Chibs’ motivations as characters, I don’t want to relate to their volatile relationship. And then you have Venus, who is the most singular person on the show, and yet at this point, she really is the most relatable. What did you see in that conversation between Venus and Tig?
Goggins: I’m just blown away that you said that, and I know Kurt [Sutter] would be blown away as well and very grateful for that comment. I think that there’s something about two people that are looking for love from an honest and truthful place that is extremely appealing. Vulnerability that is not trying to be used in some manipulative way is something that we’re all attracted to and that we aspire to, I think, whenever we’re able to truly let our guards down. And that’s really what that is: It’s not gender specific. It’s more than a man and a woman, or a man and a man, or a woman and a woman. It’s just about two human beings who need to be seen, and that’s what Kurt wrote. He gave both of these people the words to articulate how they feel. When I read it, I just thought I’ve never really seen honesty in that way, with what is a perceived way of life that would be unacceptable to another person. Venus is understanding of that, and in some ways, accepting of the limitations of that kind of commitment from another person. And she is graceful enough to let him out, but she was also vulnerable enough to say, “But I let myself believe in it, and I do believe in it. And I’m not a fool for allowing myself space for that emotion. I’m a better person for it.” Because she was able to say that, Tig came around. I mean, I’m gonna cry right now talking about it. It was so organic and so beautiful, and that comes from the mind and really from the heart of Kurt Sutter.
I assume it was scripted for you to not use Venus’ voice in that scene since Tig, at the end, asks to hear her lilt again. Is that the case?
That was Kurt, and that was in the stage directions. Paris Barclay directed this episode. Paris has been a friend of mine well over 18 years. He did episodes of The Shield. I did a movie for him back when I was like 23 years old called The Cherokee Kid. I did NYPD Blue with Paris. I’ve known Paris for a long time. Obviously I’ve known Kurt for a very long time. And Kim I’ve known for a while. That it was this collaboration between these people who have been in each other’s lives just made it all the sweeter. It was just about creating the space for this to happen. In that moment, Paris said, “Walton, I think you have to even go deeper without Venus’ voice.” Which was so strange for me because I don’t look at it as “Venus’ voice,” that’s just the way she talks. To think about her sounding other than how she sounds, that was hard for me. It was really difficult. It was like, okay, let’s bring it down, and then it just made it even sweeter for me. I think it made it sweeter for Kim as Tig.
When we walked into do it and rehearse it, I’d just gotten back from filming a movie in Canada. I’d been back for not even 24 hours. I got off the plane, went home and slept, woke up six hours later to start the process. By the time we got to start shooting [the conversation], it was like six o’clock at night. We’d done the other stuff beforehand, and Kim really wanted to approach the making love scene in the montage in a very certain way. He was absolutely right, and I thought that was beautiful. And then [Venus] coming out of the shower, I really talked to Tracey [Anderson], our makeup artist, about where we are in the stage—what is right and what’s not right. And we did that scene, and Paris staged it so that Venus was looking in a mirror at herself at the end. For me, all the sudden for the first time, Venus is looking at herself and judging herself. She’s looking at herself for the first time through another person’s eyes, not through her own. And what she sees is not how she sees herself. It’s something less than perfect. And that f–kin’ broke my heart.
So by the time we get to the scene, we walked in and everybody was really quiet. We sat down to rehearse it with Paris, who Kim and I trust implicitly, and it’s all right there. I turned to Paris and said, “Can you shoot this at the same time?” And Paris said, “Absolutely. That’s exactly what we’re gonna do.” Paris set it up so there was a camera on both of these people as they were going through this emotion‚ and I say “these people” in third person because I don’t believe that I was there or Kim was there—it was them. It was their relationship. And Paris just let the camera roll. He came in and tweaked us as needed, and that was it. We did it maybe three times total. It was so pure and so without ego and so not result-oriented. It was just outside of all of us: Just let these two people heal one another, and then let’s walk away. It was one of the most cathartic experiences of my life as an artist.