Playing the unforgettable Peggy Bundy in the Fox comedy Married…with Children brought Katey Sagal into the national spotlight, but that was only the beginning for her. She voiced Leela in the cartoon Futurama, and then led the cast of 8 Simple Rules, even after John Ritter's death.
She has found new success playing Gemma Teller Morrow in the FX drama Sons of Anarchy, and has won a Golden Globe for the role.
We talked to Sagal right before she hit the road on tour with the cast bringing her singing voice to the forefront.
Windy City Times: Hi, Kateygreat to finally talk to you on the phone.
Katey Sagal: Great talking to you. Where are you?
WCT: Chicago. You are out singing on this Sons of Anarchy tour. Many of the mainstream public may not know you sing.
WCT: Did you sing in musicals or just from the back-up singing before?
KS: Well, I did musicals in high school. When I got out of high school my first professional job was touring with Two Gentleman of Verona, which was a musical. So I did a little bit of that but really my in was that I was a singer/songwriter. I don't know what the vein was… sort of a bluesy and soul music. So that was really what I was doing. After my twenties I worked as a background singer basically. I made a few records on my own but nobody really heard them. [Laughs]
WCT: How was working with Bette Midler?
KS: I worked with her for about five years. It was awesome. I even joke with her now that it was the hardest job I ever had because it was really challenging. I sang and danced. Obviously you have seen her show but the Harlettes were a huge part of her show back in the '70s and '80s. It was more singing than it was dancing so it was just all around very challenging but awesome, really, really great. I went all over the world with her.
WCT: Do you still keep in touch with her?
KS: We get our hair done by the same guy, so the last few times I have seen her was at the beauty parlor.
WCT: Speaking of hair, were you ready to get rid of the drag wig after Married With Children?
KS: I was always very appreciative of that job. That job came to me and really changed my life. So I was never really like, "Woo, I need to get out of here!" But after 11 years it was time to move on from that.
WCT: Were you worried you would be typecast from playing the part too well?
KS: There was a period of time when you are a part of American culture that way where you are just in people's living rooms every week that it does take a minute for that to loosen up so that you can go on to do other things. I continued to work but I was really looking to do something other than comedy and that took a little bit of doing.
I worked on Lost and got a recurring role on that, and it was a big turning point on being viewed as a dramatic actress. I had to go in and audition for that job and really show people that I could do that.
Certainly, Songs of Anarchy has come along and broadened things. As an actor you want to do different things but it did take a minute.
WCT: After being nominated many times for Emmys with Married With Children, to win for Sons of Anarchy must be rewarding.
KS: Yeah, it was really fun and great.
WCT: What is it like working with your husband on "Anarchy?"
KS: Awesome. He's such a good writer and such a great storyteller. I always know I am going to have interesting things to do. We work really well together. Our jobs on the show are so different. He's already started and I don't even go back until May. He is already in there writing. It's not like we punch in every day and see each other. We both love doing it so it is a good thing for us to share.
WCT: Are there similarities with your character on "Anarchy?"
KS: Gemma is very loyal to her family and as a person. They have created their own little universe. They live outside the box and on the fringe. The people that come to this world have abandoned the world that they come from so they create their little insular family.
She is extremely loyal, and I imagine you would say that about me in terms of my childrennot to the point where I am going to carry a gun, but Gemma would. She has those very strong maternal qualities that I share as well.
WCT: What will the singing be like on this tour?
KS: Here is the evening: We tried to combine my new record that is just about to come out in September with songs that I sing on the show. I sing a song every season. We wanted to bring a whole element to the show for the whole night. It will start with a few songs from the show then I will do five or six songs off of my record. Curtis Stigers is coming out with us and he will sing the theme song then do a few songs. We will then have a Q&A with Ryan Hurst, who plays Opie, and Theo Rossi, who plays Juice. That will be like a 40-minute Q&A; then we will do some more music. That will be the evening.
WCT: What a fun night!
KS: It should be really fun. It is our first time doing it so we hope people will show up for it and we can keep doing it.
WCT: Are you signing "Ruby Tuesday?"
KS: Oh, I don't know if we will sing "Ruby Tuesday." I will have to check the set list. For sure I am going to sing "Bird on a Wire." I will probably sing "To Sir, with Love."
WCT: This will all be with the Forest Rangers?
KS: They will be the band. Curtis will sing "This Life" and "John the Revelator." I think they are going to do "Sunday Never Comes." Probably half the songs will be from the show and half will be off my new record.
WCT: What is the new record shaping up to be?
KS: Unlike past records, on this one I have really written nothing. It is more covers that Bob and I arranged. Bob Thiele is the music supervisor from Sons of Anarchy. It is not just nostalgic. It is not a bunch of songs that I listened to growing up, it is more contemporary songs that I really like. There are a few songs that are older songs. It is kind of rootsy and paired down. It is not a super slick record but it is good. I really like it. We are mixing now.
WCT: Futurama has a big cult following. Is there more coming out?
KS: They are about to start airing a new season on Comedy Central that we have already recorded so it might be on really soon. I don't have the airdates for that but it should be coming in the summer.
Futurama is always the job that I never know if it is going to last or not. [Laughs] It just goes season by season. It has such a strong fan base that we end up doing more so I would imagine that will still happen.
The planned Evening of Music and the Cast of Sons of Anarchy at the Vic Theater on Sunday, April 21 at 7 p.m. has been cancelled.
Don't miss Katey Sagal playing Artie's mother on Glee in May!