Prepare yourselves, Sons of Anarchy fans: There's going to come a point in the supersized SoA Season 7 premiere (Sept. 7 on FX) when you'll be watching the TV and a familiar face will appear. "Wait, that looks like … no, that isn't … is that … whoa! That's Theo Huxtable partying with the Sons" will be your reaction when you realize that, yes, the Cosby Show Emmy nominee we all grew up watching as the only Huxtable son, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, is partying with SAMCRO. And not just at any old party… he's hanging with the crew at their new porn studio.
Actually, he's playing a guy named Sticky, the vice president of the Grim Bastards motorcycle club, the one led by T.O. Cross (Michael Beach). We won't spoil any further details, but suffice it to say that Warner turned what was supposed to be a one-episode gig into a multiple-episode role for the show's final season.
Warner, who's also in the middle of a recurring role on TNT's Major Crimes, talked to Yahoo TV about how he landed in Charming, riding his own hog on SoA, the bond he shares with Sons star Katey Sagal, and, yes, what his famous TV dad might have to say about his new TV-land friends.
How did the role on the show come about?
It was an audition, a straight audition. It was a small role, but a really powerful scene. And I really wanted to be on the show. The character was supposed to be in one episode, but they're bringing me back for several episodes.
Was it hard to have to keep it under wraps, not be able to talk about it?
Very hard! Because I love the show so much. I was really happy to be on the show, and I get to ride my own [motorcycle] on the show, but they did not want me to talk about it until I got the word. [Laughs.]
That is your bike Sticky is riding on the show?
Yes, that was one of the added benefits. People were definitely pleasantly surprised, one, that I ride, and also that my bike is cool. Because the [SAMCRO] guys have their style of bikes, but the black motorcycle clubs, they've got cruisers, and they really put a lot into their bikes.
Did the crew do anything to your bike, any adjustments or additions, to customize it for the show?
No, because I had a lot of customization done to the bike when I first got it. I had 22-inch ape hanger handle bars put on it, I had the pipes changed out, I had it painted, so I came to work with an already tricked-out bike.
How long have you been riding?
That bike since 2010. I had my friends over at Top Secret Cycles do the work on it. This is my first Harley, but I've been riding [motorcycles] since I was back in New York, in my early 20s.
We know your character is Sticky and that he's T.O.'s veep. Do you have backstory on him?
They haven't really informed us a whole lot about what's going on. I start working on my third episode tomorrow. But they're pretty tight-lipped about even letting the cast know what's going on.
What is it like being on the SoA set as a guest star? They're such a tight-knit group, and they've been together for six seasons now. Did they appreciate the fact that you knew how to ride already?
Those guys are so cool, and, as you said, because they've been working together for so long, everybody has a really cool rapport. All the guys on the show have been quite welcoming, and yes, actually being a rider definitely helps. And I especially love… I've only had one scene with Katey [Sagal], but I so love her on the show. Especially because she's someone who's come from such a hugely, wildly popular show where she's known as one character, and to see her do something completely different from what she had been known for… I think she and I kind of have a special connection because of that experience, that we both had on big series.
Did the two of you talk about that at all?
It's funny, we haven't. Well, except my gushing over her and her work and the fact that she's been able to do something so drastically different.
Is that part of the fun of doing the show for you, this very different kind of role?
Definitely! That was really the whole attraction. It's so out of the box from what I normally get to do.
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You mentioned you're starting on your third episode tomorrow. Is there a chance you'll be in even more episodes?
I'm here for another couple of weeks… we've talked about getting a few more in before I leave for Boston. I'm going to Boston in a couple of weeks to go do Guess Who's Coming to Dinner at the Huntington Theatre Company. I'm really excited about that. I did it last winter at the Arena Stage in DC, and we got such a great response, incredible reviews, packed houses, and standing ovations after every performance.
And things have also heated up for your character on Major Crimes. Will Lt. Chuck Cooper return again this season?
I'm back in [Monday's] episode. And it's a reeeeally big episode.
Yes, that episode [which also includes The Walking Dead alum Laurie Holden as a guest star] has been the subject of some spinoff talk, which has included buzz that Chuck Cooper could be a part of a new spinoff. What can you say about that?
[Laughs.] Yes, and, of course, I would love it if that would happen. I think once people see this episode ["Two Options"], they're going to be invested in this team even more. I know I was, and I just saw a little bit of it, and I'm excited myself to watch the whole thing.
Bill Cosby is creating a new sitcom, another family sitcom, that he has talked about being focused on an adult family this time. Have you two talked about your being a part of that in any way?
We have talked about [his new show], but we've never talked about that. I don't think that's really come into the realm of either one of our consciousness. When he did Cosby after our show, with Phylicia [Rashad], he worked with Phylicia because he had to, in terms of, there was really no one else who could go toe-to-toe with him. So I think this time around, he's probably going to want to keep [the new show and "The Cosby Show"] as separate as possible.
What do you think he'll say when he sees you on Sons of Anarchy?
[Laughs.] I don't think he'll watch Sons of Anarchy. I can imagine him seeing an episode and calling me and saying, "All right, so you just had to get that out of your system, huh?"
Sons of Anarchy Season 7 premieres with an hour-and-45-minute episode on Sept. 9 at 10 p.m. on FX; Major Crimes airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on TNT.