To his clients, Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) is the man. He’s a sort of Harvey Specter-meets-Vic Mackey in “fixing” others’ problems, but his personal life is another story. Debashine Thangevelo |looks at how season two unveils as Ray is fast losing his greatest asset – control…
LIEV Schreiber has been in enough Hollywood blockbusters to have gained admiration and respect the world over.
And he has certainly explored the full gamut of roles and genres with lauded exploits in The Sum of All Fears, The Manchurian Candidate, The Omen, The Painted Veil, Love in the Time of Cholera, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Salt and The Butler.
But when it comes to TV, he has certainly been something of a dark horse, as we discovered with M-Net’s Ray Donovan.
It isn’t so much about him being attractive in a Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy) or Jon Hamm (Mad Men) light – he is the stylish and enigmatic type, who exudes an irresistible bad-boy vibe.
To quickly encapsulate things: Ray Donovan is a hotshot “fixer” to a string of celebrities. While his composed demeanour and quick thinking often quashes the career-crushing problem on his hands, he doesn’t seem to have as firm a grip on things on the home front.
His hatred for his father Mickey caused him much consternation last season. That was amid dealing with a rebellious teenage daughter, a drug-addicted brother and a distrustful wife. Protective to a fault, one his biggest drawbacks is not communicating his feelings.
And now he is back for another season, no doubt fashioned in its trademark dark and dramatic style.
Schreiber says: “It’s interesting, you know, I didn’t know what to expect, particularly in the second season. It’s great to see the cast, great to see everybody again. It was odd getting back into Ray. It felt a little too easy in the beginning. It felt like it was just – it felt automatic. It felt like, I guess, the thing is you do a play, and when you do a play every night you go on, there’s a certain pressure from the audience, there’s a certain anxiety that comes with it that doesn’t happen on television. You put the jacket on and there is the guy and then the camera is rolling and you go. It’s been great. I guess for me the challenge has been to resist falling back into the same place where we were last season, which is to figure out how these characters have grown, how they have changed, how they have progressed.”
One of the big things this season is how Ray and James Cochran (Hank Azaria) of the FBI deal with the Patrick “Sully” Sullivan situation, ie explaining his death.
“Ray’s still got the Sully thing dangling. That was quite a caper on the dock getting rid of him and covering that up and dealing with the FBI. I think emotionally and personally, Ray’s thing is shifting with his father. Something is starting to happen there that’s interesting and I’m not sure yet what it is and I kind of like that.
“I think coming to terms with what was revealed about Ray’s abuse and what he went through as a young man is going to be interesting to see how that takes shape in season two. At the moment, he’s got his hands full with the FBI and Cochran.”
What’s really going to pique the curiosity of fans is the shift in Mickey and Ray’s relationship.
Schreiber offers: “You know, any time I think things have softened between Ray and Mickey… once you bring the whole Father O’Connor bit back into the picture, it hardens up pretty quickly. I think Ray holds Mickey responsible for a lot of that. But I also think that the Father O’Connor thing is fairly complex for Ray because I think that Father O’Connor was, in many ways, a role model for Ray and someone who really gave him a lot of positive encouragement and endorsement when he was a young man, and I think that has probably profoundly affected Ray’s ability to trust people, particularly people who are kind to him. And I think he holds his father responsible for that. But it will be interesting to see how they work it out because now they are in this symbiotic relationship where they need each other – or certainly Ray needs Mickey – for the time being.”
As for where things now stand with Abby (Ray’s wife), he offers: “I think the revelation about his abuse in the past is very difficult for Ray, and it’s probably most difficult on those who are close to him or love him. For the reasons that I mentioned before, the complexity of his relationship with Father O’Connor makes him particularly distrustful of people very close to him. And the person whom that’s impacted the most is probably Abby. So, it seems like their relationship is struggling.
“Abby has decided to get help and they go to a therapist, but I don’t know if Ray is really the type of guy who thrives in those sort of situations. He’s not a particularly talkative character or expressive character. So, I don’t know how well he’s going to do with a Freudian therapist, but it’s an interesting exercise.”
Wanting a better perspective on the new season, he admits he chatted to creator Ann Biderman about the “overall arc” for the characters this season.
Let’s just say the lengths the damaged characters go to in their desperate state exceeds any cliché we may have attached to them.
As for Ray’s biggest challenge this time, he says: “He’s got to do battle with these demons, this abuse that is eating away at him and his desire to be known is pretty dangerous. And it’s tough; it’s a tough situation he’s in. He’s a very volatile character; and he’s not particularly safe to be around.
“So I think if we follow that general luck of wanting to be known, it’s going to be interesting, because as the secret starts to come out – and there are still a lot of secrets that aren’t out – it gets hairy for everybody.”
Amid all these troubling moments, he still watches over Ezra, who is obsessed about the memorial for his wife.
And then Cochran, in his vendetta against Ray, decides to hit him a little too close to home. Big mistake, as hell hath no fury like Ray seriously pissed off!
• Ray Donovan season two starts on M-Net (DStv channel 101) at 21.30pm.