Liev Schreiber Is Back As Showtime's 'Ray Donovan,' The Fixer You Love To Hate

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Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan in RAY DONOVAN (Season 4, Episode 02). (Photo/Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME)
Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan in RAY DONOVAN (Season 4, Episode 02). (Photo/Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME)

This Sunday is the season four premiere of the Showtime series “Ray Donovan.” Liev Schreiber stars as Donovan, a Hollywood fixer with a troubled past and an often violent present. Schreiber talks to Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson about the role and his career.

Interview Highlights: Liev Schreiber

On how it feels to be returning to the show for a fourth season:

"It feels older, it's you know, it's an evolution for me as an actor. I'm someone who started in the theater and really couldn't stand repeating the show. My favorite part of acting is the five or six weeks of rehearsal that you get. I like doing previews, I like the opening week because my friends and family come, and then after that I don't want to do it anymore."

On the workload of the show:

"As an actor I'm not particularly suited to hard work and this is very, very, very hard work. I've never worked so hard in my life… Because our show is so cinematic we're essentially producing half of a feature film in 10 to 13 days so we're always hustling. It’s also a very emotional show, it’s a character who internalizes pain and not only does he internalize pain, but he's not verbal. So unlike Shakespeare where you get to express through language, with Ray — and it's part of why noir is so great and so cinematic — you're not allowed language. So, what you tend to do it amp up a lot of tension, build a lot of tension and then not express it. That can be really taxing on the body and the mind."

On his character, Ray:

"Ironically, for a show that is essentially a noir, and fraught with sex and violence, one of the things that I love about the character that Ann created is the idea that violent people are only violent because they are vulnerable. And that violence is a symptom of vulnerability and fear. And Ray having suffered some pretty horrible abuse at a very early age is carrying this around with him, carrying this kind of deep insecurity and vulnerability around with him that I think he has learned to repress and sit on which has made him sort of a very hard character I think.

It also makes violence a natural behavior for him because there's a lot of anger and a lot of rage. In terms of dealing with people in the sort of perverse world of the entertainment business, he has a very solid grip on both perversity and violence and dominance."

On his acting methods and if he draws from his difficult early childhood:

"I've never been a heavy practitioner of the method or at least with any specific intent, I'm kind of an impulse-based person. Like, I'm sort of waiting for something to happen that I'm not expecting and I kind of want to jump on that train of emotion, whatever it is, both from myself or from the other actor.

Usually it happens in the interchange between actors or when you start playing with the rhythms of the scene or mixing it up or moving it around in ways that you're not anticipating it then emotional things happen and those emotional things that happen that don't have specific narrative attached to them. I think they are always the most interesting ones. Now, of course, those emotions probably come from some history but I can't remember or connect them. I just know they exist in my body and when I work with another good actor they come out."


Liev Schreiber, star in “Ray Donovan." He tweets @LievSchreiber.

This segment aired on June 23, 2016.


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