Some things are just meant to be. “I’ve been walking on those stars my whole life,” says L.A. native Katey Sagal of the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. Now, to celebrate her 40-plus year career in the business, the actress is getting a star of her own — an honor she calls “humbling.”
“It makes me think of my family, it makes me think of my father,” she says. “What I do is what I was raised around, so there’s something familial about that.” Sagal’s father, Boris, was a TV and film director who gave her a start in the business, along with her SAG card — even though she insisted she had no interest in becoming an actor. “But maybe that’s because I was a very dramatic child,” she jokes.
Back then, she only wanted to play music, and that’s how she made her living. But then she was spotted by some casting agents, and landed a role on a sitcom. “That job led to more jobs, and before I knew it, I was on ‘Married With Children,’” she recalls. “I always look at it as I had some natural ability, but I learned on the job. I’ve trained along the way. It’s taken me a while. But I feel like now, I’m an actor.”
She’s quick to credit some famous teachers she had along the way. “The first sitcom I did was with Mary Tyler Moore, and I didn’t even know how to hit my mark,” says Sagal. “She moved my body around to where I was supposed to be. And I learned a lot from Ed (O’Neill, “Married With Children”). He knew how to be funny in a real way. He didn’t play for the jokes.”
While Sagal has built an impressively long, diverse resume of film and TV roles, she’s created two indelible television characters: Peg Bundy on “Married With Children,” which ran for 11 seasons on Fox, and Gemma Teller Morrow on “Sons of Anarchy,” which wraps after seven seasons this fall on FX.
Playing those women for such long stretches offered some life lessons for Sagal. “I think Peg Bundy was pretty badass — she was kind of irreverent,” she says. “And Gemma is certainly someone who doesn’t mince words and speaks her mind, too.”
Both characters also share a love of family, something they have in common with the woman who portrays them. “I meet a lot of younger actors who are waiting to get their lives started until their careers take off,” she says. “I don’t know that that’s the smartest move. I was really fortunate that I was able to work and have a family. The main lesson I try to maintain is my work is not my life. My work is a piece of it.”
At her side has been her husband of 10 years, Kurt Sutter, “Sons of Anarchy’s” showrunner and executive producer. “I love him as my husband, but I just really love him as an artist, as a writer,” she says. “We’ve had our moments of indulging ourselves too much in the ‘Sons’ talk at home. But we’ve been pretty well balanced with it all.” As “Sons” prepares for its finale, Sagal is torn about saying goodbye to yet another iconic role.
“As a character, it will make sense to me that we’ve told that story. As a world, it will make sense to me that you can’t go on indefinitely telling stories about it,” she says. “But this is the second time with me with one that’s really hit it. It will be hard. I know how rare that is.”
Next on her docket is a movie called “Bleed for This” with Miles Teller and Aaron Eckhart, as well as voicing the narrator for NBC’s romantic comedy “A to Z.” (That voice is very familiar to fans of “Futurama,” where she played Leela on the animated comedy.) She’s also talking to Sutter about his next TV project, “The Bastard Executioner.” And she’s still singing and writing music. “At this point, I’m finally not super-paranoid every time a job ends,” she says. “The fact that I’ve been able to sustain a career for this many years is not lost on me.”