Ryan Hurst of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ cuts his beard as a final goodbye to Opie Winston
If you’re like me, you probably found the death of Harry ‘Opie’ Winston in this season’s ‘Sons of Anarchy’ to be a brutal, gruesome and intensely emotion scene (my face mirrored that gif to your left if you need reference material). I’ve already vowed to never watch it again (much like I did when Xander lost his eye in the seventh season of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’), because not only was it a horrible, bloody death scene, but Opie Winston was one of my favorite characters on the show. I mean, I named my car after the character, so you can understand why I might take the death of Opie a bit personal.
But when a beloved character is killed off, what does that really mean for the actor? I don’t know that I’ve ever really spent much time thinking about what it must mean to the person who no longer has a job to go to every day. And though I’d like to pretend that I would be concerned as a fellow human being, I’m not. I’m selfish. I usually only think how this development affects my life or my relationship with the show. The video posted on Entertainment Weekly’s website today shows what ‘SOA’ fans really probably already knew deep down: the onscreen death of Opie Winston was real.
The show is built around the idea that the men of SAMCRO are a brotherhood and it makes sense that the men who portray those characters would feel a deeply emotional attachment not only to their characters, but to their fellow actors who make up the rest of the brotherhood. When Opie was murdered in prison, that didn’t necessarily mean that Opie was dead inside Ryan Hurst or inside his brothers on set.
I cannot think of a more perfect way for Ryan to say goodbye to this beloved character than to cut his beard. So much of who these characters are is built upon how they look and how they’re presented on screen. Ryan’s long hair and beard were signature to the character’s style and the person who was Opie Winston. And I think it’s more than fitting that Boone and Charlie were there to do the actual deed. As for the samurai sword, well, I guess they just didn’t think regular scissors would have the same emotional impact. You have to click over to EW to watch the video, but you can read about the cathartic event below.
From Entertainment Weekly:
“What Hurst didn’t expect was how hard it was going to be to let go of Opie. Recalls Hunnam, “This is the first experience he’s ever had where the character will not die. Opie was alive and well inside him and had unfinished business. And he didn’t know how to kill Opie. In an act of desperation, he found himself online at 4 in the morning. He said there were a thousand books to help actors with character development but not one on how to kill the f—er when you are done. So, I said, ‘Why don’t you come to my house, man, and we’ll do this really right. I’ll get a few of the boys there and we’ll cut your beard off as that’s ultimately going to be the final farewell.'”
Hunnam gave Hurst a parting gift of a samurai sword that he and Boone were going to use to remove Hurst’s scruffy beard. “I started crying, and then Boone started crying,” Hunnam said. “By the end of it, it was the catharsis that we’d all hoped it would be.”
Note: Photo courtesy of FX. Gifs courtesy of Herman/Scheer Productions.