Ray Donovan, Showtime’s highest-rated series ever, returned to the airwaves last night with a gripping second season premiere. The show stars Liev Schreiber, who was nominated for a Golden Globe in his leading role as Hollywood’s most formidable “fixer,” hired to cover up the indiscretions and twisted pursuits of the rich and famous. Transplanted from South Boston, the Donovan family is haunted by a cache of dark secrets from their past, and their hopes for normalcy are perpetually derailed by the shadowy nature of Ray’s profession. Jon Voight gives a chilling performance as the Donovan brothers’ ex-mobster father who returns to reclaim his family after twenty years in prison.
Dash Mihok plays the youngest Donovan brother, the tortured but lovable Bunchy, who was molested by a priest when he was a boy and is rendered incapacitated as an adult—having become a severe alcoholic and self-described “sexual anorexic.”
DuJour caught up with Mihok to chat about what it’s been like to be a part of the Ray Donovan epic, his thoughts on Boston versus New York and his dream role.
Because you play such a troubled character, you must have worked really hard to toe the line between being melodramatic and comedic. How did you get to a place where you knew how to balance that, and how did you prepare for that role?
First of all, the moment I read the script I was like, wow—what a rich, layered character this could be. And then I did a lot of research on victims of sexual abuse, and I spent a weekend in Boston just trying to get a lay of the land. I had never been to Boston and I’m a New Yorker, so that shows you how much of a Yankees fan I am. But I don’t really know how I prepared to skate that line. I think I just tried to stay honest and keep [Bunchy] tortured and lovable—and in bringing out that lovable side, the humor just naturally flowed. I think that’s what’s been great with everyone; we get into these characters so deeply, and the comedy just kind of falls out of our mouths because we’re in it. And I just have to make sure, like you said, not to be too melodramatic. Sometimes I go really heavy and then realize I need to pull back. So it’s a lot of thinking about what it would be like to have been arrested emotionally at a young age and not to have had any good relationships with women—and on top of that to be a drunk. But it was a joy to play. When you get writing like that and you get a cast like that, you know you’ve got to bring the A-est of your A-game. And when you give Jon Voight lines like that, you just can’t lose.
So true! It makes my skin crawl just watching him sometimes—that creepy puckering thing he does with his mouth. But I really like seeing Bunchy getting his act together at the beginning of the second season. I think the jorts with the tie was a great combo.
The jorts with the tie was a really nice touch. By the way, those shorts are my costume designer’s actual shorts from the eighties. He’s a big fan of those shorts. He was like: ‘You’re going to wear a shirt and tie! And…these long jean shorts.’ And I was like, oh, of course I am.
I know you said you spent that weekend in Boston—were there any elements of the Bostonian spirit that made you think: this is how I want to play a Boston character?
Oh yeah. There were some guys from Dorchester that I based my acting on by listening to dialogue tapes, and there was a particular guy I listened to a lot. The hardest thing for me as a New Yorker was making sure I didn’t fall into the New York accent, because Boston has an East Coast flavor—but it’s really different from the New York accent. So I had to really listen to myself every day to make sure I didn’t do any New York-isms.
Are there promising things on the horizon for Bunchy this season? I know he’s a “sexual anorexic,” but I really want to get him a love interest.
Well, I can’t say for sure… but you may get your wish. They’d kill me if I told you, but it’s definitely possible.
Yay! That’s good enough for me. In regard to your experience generally, you have such a vast repertoire of roles that you’ve played for movies and for TV. Is there a certain type of character that’s your favorite to play?
You know people ask me this, and it’s bad because I really don’t have a favorite. There have been some roles that I’ve done just because I needed to pay my rent that I wasn’t thrilled about, but whether I’m playing the soldier, or doing Shakespeare, or Bunchy—I can get into it. But you know, there have been two particular characters I’ve played that were really rich for me—one being Bunchy, and also another for a short film I did years ago called Johnny Flynton about a troubled boxer— and they were both disturbed, so maybe I do like to play tortured souls. You get that extra dark layer that you don’t get in a guest spot on a network show. I love to get into as many colors as possible. I’ve been fortunate enough over the years to play everything from villains to goofballs, so if I can add that layer of comedy with the drama, with the hardness, with the lightness, with the romance, then I’d be perfect! I guess I’ve always wanted a comic villain leading man role. That’s the dream.
Well I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for you as Benvolio. I loved Romeo and Juliet so much.
Ah yes, well, that was back when I had no hair on my chest. It was a long time ago.
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