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‘Liev got a tremendous power’ Jon Voight returns to smaller screen

BEVERLY HILLS, California, July 23, (RTRS): When Jon Voight joined the growing list of top-flight film actors on television last year as a small-time Boston gangster on drama “Ray Donovan,” he felt the role of the aging family patriarch take him back to his early days as a character actor.

The 75-year-old’s return to his acting roots as Mickey Donovan, the cynical father of a Hollywood fixer in the series now in its second season on the premium cable network Showtime, has also given him a chance to join the rare club of actors who have an Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy awards.
The star of films “Midnight Cowboy” and “Coming Home” earned an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor for the role this month. He spoke to Reuters about the benefits of television, what makes a good lead actor and how he always wanted to work with Liev Schreiber, a reluctant leading man.
 
Question: Did you have any reservations about doing a television series at this stage in your career?
Answer: Here’s the deal: What does an actor really want? An actor really wants a good job. If you can get a good character, a job where you can come to work and explore a character, that lasts over a period of several months and maybe several years, it should be a wonderful thing.
Q: Would you have done this earlier in your film career?
A: There was a time when television was television, and there were television actors and there were film actors. Now that line has been blurred, especially in the dramatic arena.
We’re getting more opportunities to express ourselves in dramatic material in television than we are in films. There are only a very few films every year that are taken seriously in the dramatic arena and there are many, many pieces now where actors and writers and directors can express themselves on television.
Q: What are some of the benefits?
A: Talent that perhaps would not have had the opportunity is now getting the opportunity to express themselves. There are so many wonderful actors, so many wonderful directors and writers. You have these writers who aren’t writing one script every five years, they’re writing several hours of film every month and because of it their craft has been benefited by it.
Q: What got you interested in ‘Ray Donovan’ to begin with?
A: One of the things that attracted me was that Liev Schreiber was going to be doing it. I had spent a lot of time admiring Liev’s work as an artist and actor. I craved to see him be the leading man because he had quite a strong career in films and was always the second or third player.
Q: What makes Schreiber a lead actor?
A: He’s got that danger that you associate with them. ... It means that you know that something can erupt at any moment. He’s got a tremendous power.
Q: How would you assess his transition?
A: Last year, I noticed that when he saw these wonderful character actors that he had around him ... he wasn’t comfortable having to be the leading man. He wanted to get some bad teeth, have a limp, an accent and do all those things that the others of us are doing.
I sat him down at one point because it’s the first time he’s really committed to television and he’s carrying this thing and everybody is talking about how it’s going to be well-received and it looks good and he didn’t know if this was for him in some sense. He still was in a questioning stage.
Q: What advice did you offer?
A: I said to him: ‘Would you rather be Humphrey Bogart or Sydney Greenstreet? You’re Humphrey Bogart here. We’re doing the other things. We’re Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, but you’re Humphrey, and that’s a great thing to be. We’re grateful to have you, so feel all the joy of it.’
 
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LOS ANGELES: “Sons of Anarchy” is the highest-rated TV show in FX’s history, but leading into its seventh and final season, the motorcycle gang drama has never been nominated for an Outstanding Drama Emmy. That’s been a point of contention over the years with creator Kurt Sutter. Try as he might to avoid it, Sutter was somewhat sucked in to calling out the TV Academy once more on Monday.
But first, his colleagues weighed in on the subject when prompted by a journalist at the FX Television Critics Association panel. “If you don’t get into ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ you can’t get into it,” executive producer Paris Barclay offered. “I think the package of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ isn’t the package that appeals to most Emmy voters. They just don’t watch the show. I really don’t think they do.”
“Sons” star Charlie Hunnam took it a step further. “Lest we not forget: It doesn’t matter, like at all,” Hunnam said. “There’s this perception as though we’re kind of upset about this. I really don’t give a shit. I make this for the people who watch the show.”
 
When the beginning of the final ride of “Sons” revs up on Sept. 9, 10 days will have passed since Tara’s (Maggie Siff) death by fork at the hands of Gemma (Katey Sagal).
Sutter talked about that particularly gruesome murder and his dedication to continuing to push the boundaries all the way to the end. “I don’t have that filter, and I sort of rely on [FX CEO] John Landgraf for that filter,” he said, adding, “The reason why it was a fork is because it was there.”
In terms of the upcoming — but not yet written — series finale, Sutter admitted that it could still “all change,” though he’s had an idea and blueprint in mind for a while for how to conclude his baby. The showrunner said they’re “heading in that direction,” but the way they get there continues to change, plan as he might.
 
Sutter also spoke to this season’s buzzy additions to the cast, Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson — two people he knows from the music scene. Sutter explained that he likes to hire from “outside the box,” as evidenced by the show’s previous inclusion of David Hasselhoff, among other unlikely choices.
Finally, Sutter discussed his show’s penchant for regularly breaking the 60-minute mark. When Sutter found that he couldn’t keep his stories within the hour timeslot, FX’s advertising department gave the OK to extend its run time. That more light-handed approach to editing has worked out both in ad sales and ratings, Sutter boasted.
It’s also lended itself to creating an environment of procrastination, though. “As a result, I don’t think I’ve turned an episode in on time in the last three and a half seasons,” Sutter admitted.
But creatively, he says, it’s much better: “On a script level, I can really write the episodes I want to write and on an editorial level, I’m only cutting the things that make it a better episode.”

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