Gird your loins, Sheerios, and get ready to see Ed Sheeran like you’ve never seen him before. EW has obtained an exclusive first look at the singer-songwriter in his guest-starring role as the lethal right hand of a high-ranking church elder in The Bastard Executioner, FX’s much-anticipated new drama debuting Sept. 15 from Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy).
While on location in Cardiff, Wales, Sheeran sat down with EW to talk about how he scored the gig – and how he feels about wearing tights on TV.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you first meet Kurt Sutter?
ED SHEERAN: Through the magic of Twitter. I was watching SOA and it was mind blowing. I tweeted, “Whoever does the music on Sons of Anarchy, I want to buy him a pint.” And then Kurt tweeted me back to say his name is Bob and I should do a song for it. So I did. We kept in touch from there. And then I was having dinner at his house and I was talking about Marilyn Manson being in Sons of Anarchy, and just saying, if you ever have another show, can you stick me in it? Just like a bit part? And here I am.
Have you ever acted before?
At this level, no. I did like school plays, national youth theater when I was younger. I have played myself in Home and Away. I didUndateable. I usually play myself. But I’m not really playing myself in this.
Wait, aren’t you touring right now?
I’m midway through a world tour. Kurt has been really good with my schedule.
So did you have any special requests from Kurt for your role?
I find that I have reputation of being a smiley approachable guy, so I wanted the opposite. I said to Kurt, make sure that I’m not typecast at all. Write me as a complete d—head in it. I feel like I need that.
Is this a role for your young fans?
Oh, no no. My grandmother, the other day – she’s 91 and Irish and really sweet – was like, “Ah, I’d love to watch it.” And I said, “I don’t think you’re going to want to watch this, grams.” I do so much in my own lane. I feel like that satisfies my fan base. It’s nice to step out every now and then to challenge yourself. It doesn’t necessarily mean everyone who likes me for my music is going to like this. It means that I’m doing something different and interesting, rather than doing some rom-com, which is what I think people would expect me to do.
Are you going to promote your guest-starring role to your nearly 15 million Twitter followers?
I’m going to promote I’m in the show but I want people to watch from the beginning. Otherwise they’ll just watch this episode and be like, what the f— is going on. Don’t just skim through to find scenes I’m in!
So how does it feel, acting for TV?
I feel very out of place. I feel like I need a few more days to sink in to the idea of acting. I’m very good with a guitar in my hand, but I feel a bit lost without it. I think I just need more practice with acting. I’m glad no one is telling me I’m not good yet. I’m doing stuff and no one is saying, ‘bad sh–. That’s either them being polite which I don’t think they would be on this show, or it’s going well.
Did costume and makeup want to change your look for the drama?
When I walked into makeup they were like, we are going to have to cut your fringe and give you a bowl haircut, and I was like, “Ah that’s not happening.” This hat [he’s wears in the show] is a sign of faith. With these hats, you instantly know I’m someone who is in a religious sect.
So let’s talk about the rest of your costume.
I’m wearing tights, which is interesting. It’s quite hard to pee in this. I haven’t even tried to go No. 2. That’s going to be quite hard. I did think it was going to be a lot hotter under the lights but I’m good.
For more on Sheeran and his appearance on The Bastard Executioner, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly on newsstands Thursday.