Screenwriter, director, producer and actor
M.F.A. Theatre, '97
Raised in the suburbs of central New Jersey, Kurt Sutter spent most of his childhood indoors, avoiding people, and three feet from a television screen.
That’s where he learned the essentials of storytelling and observed that extreme violence, if performed by animated, slightly absurd characters, could be fun and informative.
After graduating from Rutgers University with a B.A. in mass media and film, Sutter spent several years as an actor in New York City, performing in off-Broadway theaters, meatpacking warehouses, indiscriminate lofts, and NYPD holding cells. His theater training led to teaching and directing, and in the mid-1990s he joined the faculty of The Gately/Poole Acting Conservatory on Theatre Row, teaching the Sanford Meisner Technique and directing productions at The Nat Horne Theatre.
In 1997, Sutter was awarded an M.F.A. Fellowship to attend Northern Illinois University. In Chicago, his exposure to the dramatic masters – Strindberg, O’Neill, Genet – inspired him, and he began writing un-producible plays and cultivating ideas for the screen. After graduating with a master of fine arts degree, Sutter moved to Los Angeles, where he began writing. In 2001, he landed a gig on FX’s The Shield. Starting as a staff writer on the first episode, he stayed on The Shield until the end of the series, finishing up the last two seasons as an executive producer.
In 2008, Sutter created the critically acclaimed drama series Sons of Anarchy. Its seven-year run is the most successful episodic series in the history of the network.
In 2015, Sutter made his feature debut with Southpaw, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams. Written by Sutter and directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film was released in July 2015. Also in 2015, Sutter created the FX medieval drama The Bastard Executioner, starring Katey Sagal, Lee Jones, and Stephen Moyer.
Previously, Sutter also ventured into reality programming with a documentary series on the Discovery Channel, Kurt Sutter’s Outlaw Empires. Sutter was the recipient of the NIU Alumni Association’s 2016 Outstanding College of Visual and Performing Arts Alumni Award.