On tonight's Sons of Anarchy, the show lays to rest one of its most popular characters, biker with a soul Opie, after his shocking prison murder. Winter Ave Zoli, who plays Opie's wife, Lyla, tells us what to expect on Tuesday night's episode and previews the direction her character will take.
Winter, whose porn star character Lyla married Opie (Ryan Hurst) in the season four premiere, but later separated from him when he discovered she'd secretly been taking birth control pills, says of Tuesday's episode, "[It's] about mourning Opie -- how the club and family deals with it, and in particular Lyla, how she deals with it."
The actress, who says she found out about Opie's death when she ran into Ryan Hurst at an audition, says that she was floored to hear that Opie would meet an untimely end. "It was definitely shocking because I feel like he brings… such an interesting character [to] the show, he brought so much to it, and I know they have reasons for doing things, and I totally respect that, but it was disappointing, it was upsetting, [also] because I like Ryan so much," she says.
Opie's uber-violent prison death set the Twitterverse afire with its brutality, and Winter sheds light on what it was like for the cast to film the sobering death scene: "On a normal day, where there's not really any heavy scenes, the guys are joking around and sort of goofy and fun. … I wasn't shooting the episode that Ryan was killed but I had a costume fitting, so when I went on set I could just feel this tension, it was so quiet and so serious, so I went to the costume department and was like, ‘What's going on?' and they're like, ‘They're shooting Ryan's death right now.'"
Opie's death will impact Lyla greatly, as Winter says that Lyla never fell out of love with Opie. "She wasn't finished with the relationship, and I think she was really hopeful about working things out. When they were separated I don't think there was finality, … there was always hope, and [since she had taken] his kids [before he went to jail], I think that she kind of [felt] like there could be some reconciliation there. So this news hits her really hard, and she goes down such a dark path," she explains.
Now that Opie isn't coming back, Lyla will go in a new direction. "She has to step up to the plate, and she's gotta get her life in order. She's got three kids she's trying to take care of, trying to support and be there for and so … she has a bit of a career change, but is still involved with the club, a different business venture that they go on," Winter reveals, adding that her character will be focused on "making a better life" for herself and the kids.
Opie's death will also have long-lasting implications for the Sons, particularly for new leader Jax, Winter says, "It's definitely affecting Jax in the sense that it hit home really hard, and it's making him kinda stop and reevaluate the club and the path that they've been on and where they're headed. And [it will be] sort of a wakeup call for Jax."
Winter predicts, "[Jax is] trying to go more towards the legitimate side as much as he possibly can. … It's not that he wants to transform the club completely, but I think the club stood for something else a long time ago, and they kind of have lost their way, and I think Jax's mission now is to bring it back to its roots."
Tune in to Sons of Anarchy on Tuesday night at 10 p.m. on FX. You can also catch Winter with Kenneth Branagh in the short film Prodigal, in theaters now and available On Demand on October 9.