As a huge fan of Sons of Anarchy, it was a dream-come-true for Ashley Tisdale when creator Kurt Sutter came knocking at her door. Not only did she receive the best welcome I could ever imagine (Hello! Getting your butt whooped by Gemma [Katey Sagal] is the ultimate experience!), but in previews we see her riding with Jax (Charlie Hunnam) on the back of his motorcycle.
Yes this 27-year-old is known for playing “good girl” roles but as Emma Jean, Tisdale is looking to change up her image. As I mentioned in opening, Tisdale’s opportunity came with a knock on her door, literally. She never had to audition for the role. Her father Mike has known both Kurt and Katey for a long time but was too embarrassed to reach out to them when Ashley mentioned she’d like to be on the show.
But when Kurt was writing the role of Emma Jean, he thought to ask Mike if Ashley would be interested in playing a high-price prostitute with a sweet exterior. And the rest, as they say, is television history.
Last week during what I call, the most shocking episode of the series, we briefly met Emma Jean. As one of Nero’s (Jimmy Smits) highest paid gals, she was hand-picked by Clay (Ron Perlman) to help him forget that his ol’ lady was moving on to tanner pastures. Gemma bursts through the door seemingly before anything has happened and lays the smack down on that unsuspecting girl! No one apparently warned little Emma Jean about Hurricane Gemma. Stay out of her path or there will be destruction to be had!
Even though Ashley did make her first appearance in “Laying Pipe,” her scenes were shot at a different time than the Opie scenes. So for those of you wondering what it was like for her to be on set during such an emotional time, you should know she wasn’t there.
So without further ado, here are the highlights from our chat with Ashley, who is currently in Atlanta shooting Scary Movie 5.
On shedding her “good girl” reputation on Sons of Anarchy:
I am one of the biggest fans of Sons of Anarchy, exclaimed Ashley. ” I was so excited to be able to be on the show. Obviously with my background with Disney I have a lot of young fans but I do have fans who have grown with me as well.
I was excited to do something else for a change. I want to grow as an actress and this was definitely outside of my comfort zone. But I thought that it was super exciting to do something that I haven’t done and have people see me in a different light. I had a great time doing it.
On her first motorcycle ride (ever!) with Charlie Hunnam and working with the cast:
This was my first time ever being on a motorcycle and Charlie Hunnam was the first person to give me a ride,” she said excitedly! “I thought that was amazing since I’m such a big fan of his. We had such a great time!
I don’t get star-struck normally but for some reason because I watch the show religiously I felt so star-struck every single time [I was on set]. The worst was when I had to do the table read for the second episode because everyone from the show was there, I was so nervous!
On Kurt Sutter giving her the chance to grow as an actress:
I’m so grateful for what Disney gave me and the experiences that I had, but at the end of the day there is so much more that I can do [as an actress] than what I did on the channel and in those movies and it takes just one person to give you that chance.
For me it was Kurt Sutter who gave me that chance to do something different.
This is a big transition for me in my life. Before [Sons of Anarchy] I made sure that every project that I did I felt comfortable. But when you are growing as a person you kind of just have to do it and get out there. The only way to grow is to challenge yourself.”
On what it was like to work with the cast of Sons of Anarchy:
“Every single moment I was there I was excited to be with a cast that is so talented, extremely grounded, and so nice,” she said. “I learned so much just from being around them. They are really a tight-knit group, and it was so great to see that [offscreen] they really are “the boys”. All the guys had gone on a camping trip one weekend and I thought that was so cool.”
On Emma Jean’s connection to Jax:
“Emma Jean is just there to do her job and get out of there. Due to what happened in the last episode [Laying Pipe], we don’t know yet who told on the club but she is definitely a candidate,” Ashley recalled.
“She doesn’t trust anyone but Jax really comes through for her.”
On the fight scene with Katey Sagal:
“They just threw us in there! We had a stunt choreographer that went over exactly what we were going to do,” she explained. “I was really freaked out wondering if she was going to hit me for real!
She is such a nice person and we had a lot of fun doing it.”
On whether or not Emma Jean will be bonding with any of the characters:
I’m sure she’s more than bonded to all of them! (laughs) Yes she bonds with Charlie’s character and I hope she does more bonding in the future! She doesn’t die. So I think that maybe there could be a chance that I do come back. I think that that’s definitely a possibility.”
Don’t forget to tune in to an all new episode of Sons of Anarchy, Tuesday nights at 10pm only on FX.