Liev Schreiber was a little startled to learn what made him the perfect choice to play the title role on Ray Donovan, a dark drama about an L.A.-based professional fixer to the stars: his sheer, unadulterated masculinity. ”I was in a restaurant with [creator Ann Biderman] and she said really loud, ‘I need a man!’ ” recalls the actor. ”It was really embarrassing.” (”He was so mortified,” Biderman tells EW. ”But it’s true. There’s nothing metrosexual about him.”) We asked Schreiber to discuss the testosterone-fueled series, which also stars Deadwood’s Paula Malcomson as Ray’s wife, Abby, and Oscar winner Jon Voight as his sinister dad, Mickey, who plans to reenter Ray’s life whether he likes it or not.
Was your arc on CSI in 2007 so magical that it made you want to return to TV?
It didn’t hurt that it was a very good experience. I saw how these things could function successfully and I met a lot of really talented people who kind of changed my mind about TV. But I never anticipated doing a series because it just didn’t work for my life or my family.
What was it about this script that changed your mind?
It examines the issue of what it is to be a man in contemporary society. Every social group in this country has had an upgrade to their software except for the average white male. I think they are still playing off an antiquated rule book. Men had a clearer role in society in the earlier part of the last century. Men knew their place and were valued as soldiers, workers, husbands, caretakers, and protectors.
What does that have to do with Ray?
He is a protector. For whatever series of circumstances that created him, he’s taken on the role of protector whether it’s healthy or not.
In the pilot, we see Ray succumb to a sexy young lady. What’s that about?
There’s a history to Ray. We’ll reveal why there is so much complexity around his psychosexual relationships.
Do these fixers actually exist in Hollywood?
In the ’40s they were really prevalent. Then they became lawyers as time went by.