Katey Sagal Compares Playing ABC's Rebel To Sons Of Anarchy's Gemma Teller

katel sagal's annie bello wearing leather jacket in abc's rebel
(Image credit: abc press)

Despite also enjoying a recurring role on the sitcom The Conners, actress Katey Sagal is now front and center for the network legal drama Rebel, which recently premiered on ABC. The show is based on the life and experiences of legal advocate and activist Erin Brockovich, with Segal taking on the role of Annie "Rebel" Bello. Unsurprisingly, Rebel is as badass as her name indicates, with Sagal's performance selling it in full. But how does this new character stack up to the actress' prior run as Gemma Teller on Sons of Anarchy?

During the Television Critics Association's virtual winter press tour, Rebel co-creator and Grey's Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff led a panel populated by the new drama's ensemble cast and Erin Brockovich herself, which CinemaBlend attended along with other press outlets. I posed a question to Katey Sagal asking how her new role as Rebel compared to her iconic portrayal of Gemma on Sons of Anarchy, and whether or not she'd be calling anyone a "gash" on the ABC series. (A term that Gemma swung around as a barbed insult on more than a few occasions.) Here's how the Golden Globe-winning star answered:

I haven't done that yet. Haven't hit anybody with a skateboard yet either. But, you know, Gemma was an outlaw. Gemma was an outlaw, and an illegal outlaw. And she would literally shoot you. So did it help me, but Gemma was a quieter, sort of the "woman behind the man" kind of character. Rebel is not standing behind anybody. She is not the power behind the man. And so, in those ways, it's a very different role. In terms of being dynamic and somebody that is loyal and believes in what they believe in, they're similar in those ways. I do not believe Rebel's going to put a bullet through anybody, but Gemma would have. So, yeah, there's some similarity but not as much as I would have thought. They're a different kind of energy, for sure. Gemma didn't speak a lot; Rebel talks constantly.

At that point, several of Katey Sagal's Rebel co-stars hilariously chimed in by loudly agreeing that the character "doesn't shut up." But Sagal said she is definitely having fun with her new role, regardless of how much or how little she speaks.

Just from watching the pilot episode and watching previews, viewers will also note that Rebel is keen on rocking a leather jacket, which is obviously something Katey Sagal was used to wearing during her time as Gemma Teller on Sons of Anarchy. If someone out there wanted to digitally add a SAMCRO logo on the back of Rebel's jacket, that would be awesome and outside my skill set.

Though both Rebel and Gemma are well-spoken characters with rigid backbones and a taste for causing trouble, their motivations and approaches to situations are clearly very different. Gemma's method of solving a problem usually involved bashing its face into a desk or making burial plans for it. On the flip side, Rebel is obviously a more lawful and rule-following character, even though she'll also get her hands dirty to a certain extent. Not so much dirty with an enemy's bloody entrails.

Is it time to start hoping for Katey Sagal's former Sons of Anarchy co-star Charlie Hunnam to make a guest-starring appearance on Rebel in the future? You'd have to be a total gash not to, amirite?

Rebel airs Thursday nights on ABC at 10:00 p.m. ET, right after new episodes of what might be Grey's Anatomy's final season.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.