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Liev Schreiber explores Hollywood’s shadows in ‘Ray Donovan’ on Showtime

Liev Schreiber stars as Hollywood fixer Ray Donovan 'Ray Donovan' Sundays Showtime.

Liev Schreiber stars as Hollywood fixer Ray Donovan in "Ray Donovan" Sundays on Showtime.

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Updated: July 30, 2013 8:44AM

Ray Donovan is a man of few words, and many complexities.

In Showtime’s “Ray Donovan” (9 p.m. Sundays), Liev Schreiber plays a South Boston-native-turned-Hollywood-fixer who’s an enforcer with a values system and a man who loves his family but reviles his father.

“He says and does some horrible things, but seems to have a pretty intact moral epicenter, which is one of the things I find intriguing and likable about him,” Schreiber says.

Ray toils in the darker corners of Hollywood, working for Ezra Goldman (Elliott Gould), one of the town’s most powerful lawyers, with assistance from Avi (Steven Bauer) and Lena (Katherine Moennig).

He’s resettled his family in Southern California, but tries to keep them at a distance from his work. His wife Abby (Paula Malcomson) hates the suburbs. His brother Terry (Eddie Marsan) runs a boxing club, while another brother, Bunchy (Dash Mihok), still suffers from a priest’s sexual abuse that he endured as a youth.

Ray has a sensibility forged by his Irish-Catholic roots, Schreiber says. “It’s a very tough community, but it’s also a very loving and close-knit community. That old-fashioned morality that Ray seems to have is also a product of his upbringing.”

Ray’s world is shaken when his mobster father, Mickey (Jon Voight), gets out of prison and comes to Hollywood, believing Ray set him up for the jail sentence.

“Mickey is a mess,” Voight says. “He’s dangerous and exciting, and he can be very charming. He can have a lot of self-pity, a lot of self-righteousness..”

And naturally, Ray and Mickey clash, as Ray threatens his father against going near his family.

While Ray operates in contemporary Hollywood, he is a product of a bygone era.

“He’s just an amalgam of things that interest me about men,” says “Donovan” creator Ann Biderman. “I wanted an iconic male hero who didn’t have a certain vanity, who was rough and ready [like] all the men that I thought were interesting when I was a kid, those noir heroes like Robert Mitchum.”

Biderman, an NYPD Blue writer and Southland creator, saw Donovan as a chance to combine two disparate subjects that interested her: Hollywood’s shadowy side, and the Catholic Church’s sexual-abuse scandal.

“I didn’t just want to do a show about Hollywood fixers,” which would have been “much more of a procedural,” she says. “I’m very interested in this family and very interested in themes of abuse and class and all of that. What it allowed me to do was attach it to deeper themes that I care about.”

Gannett News Service

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