“It feels good to be part of something so successful,” says Liev Schreiber of his role in Showtime’s “Ray Donovan,” which wrapped its second season in September with record ratings. Schreiber plays the leading role, a fixer for a law firm who’s struggling to keep his marriage and family intact, while dealing with the reappearance of his troublemaking father (Jon Voight).
Is the role what you expected?
No, it was much deeper, much heavier, more chaotic. When I read the character, I thought it was an interesting take on contemporary masculinity. When you have that many good actors and that many good writers, it takes on a life of its own. After the first scene I knew I was in trouble — collectively we had something compelling, and I was going to have to figure out how to live in L.A.
Why do you think fans have responded to the show?
Some smart person once said that all TV is about family. I think there’s something true to that. In our case it’s very openly about family — the idea that families are torn by morality. It’s not easy to raise children in this contemporary, celebrity obsessed, anything goes culture. People vibe with that.
Do you like Ray?
He’s a very damaged guy, but I like him. I think ironically Ray is an extremely moral person. I think that’s why he struggles so much. He’s really hard on himself and hard on his family. Family is very important to him, loyalty is very important to him.
Can his marriage be saved?
Ray is the kind of person who would die for his family. I don’t know that his marriage can ever truly be over. As bad as it gets, as bad as he behaves, he’ll never be able to separate himself from it. Whether or not they’re living under the same roof, he’ll always be married to Abby.
What about his friendship with Avi?
Avi was as close a friend as Ray ever had in this world. But Ray’s not the kind of character who forgives easy. He feels really, really betrayed. And he’s a tough guy when it comes to crossing him.
Can he ever forgive his father?
That’s really the question of the show, isn’t it? Personally, I would have forgiven my father long ago. But he’s been through a lot more than I have.
Is he a hard character for you to play?
I have the greatest kids, I have such a happy home environment. If I didn’t have that, I don’t know how I’d do it. It’s hard to play someone who doesn’t have that. It’s hard to play someone who’s so buried in their own pain and loneliness that they can’t let anyone else in. I really love Ray — but I don’t want to be him all the time.
What would you like to see for Ray in the future?
For Liev, I’d like a half-hour comedy. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. I think Ray would probably like a half-hour comedy, too. Wouldn’t that be great for him? Or he should at least watch one.