Ray of darkness
Movie star Liev Schreiber's TV role is so intense, he can't shake it off when cameras stop rolling
Some actors are unable to shake off intense roles, but Liev Schreiber never took his work home with him.
Until Ray Donovan.
The third season of the crime drama returns with Schreiber reprising the title role as Ray the "fixer", a man hired by the rich and famous to bribe officials, bury evidence - and bodies, if necessary - so their bad behaviour goes unpunished.
He handles his clients' lives admirably, but his own? Not so much.
Ray's family is one of damaged souls - broken brothers, a social-climbing wife and troubled kids - and it seems the sins of his ex-con father (a menacing Jon Voight) have visited upon the family with a vengeance.
A big reveal at the end of the last season gave insight into the taciturn Ray, whose seemingly calm exterior concealed a simmering rage.
This brooding role is perfect for Schreiber, a 47-year-old San Francisco native whose career has been built on serious, intense stage roles and indie films.
These preceded his jump to mainstream fame with the hit horror movie series Scream (1996 to 2000), followed by big-budget Hollywood flicks like X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and Salt (2010).
Schreiber has now followed big-screen success with small-screen recognition, as Ray Donovan has rewarded him with much, including a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination.
STAYING IN CHARACTER
Schreiber - who has two sons aged eight and seven with his girlfriend of 10 years, Australian actress Naomi Watts - told M at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills: "I never really believed until I did a television show that the character stays with you.
"Since I've started playing Ray (in 2013), it's the first time in my life as an actor, when you ratchet up the tension and the despair and the vulnerability as deeply as Ray does, it's very difficult to come down from that.
"If you do it five days a week, 14 hours a day, your body starts to pick up automatic responses to things."
He added: "It's very important to figure out a way to start your work every day and to end your work every day - whether that's a meditation or some sort of ritual that helps you bookend the process - because I don't want to take that energy home to my kids and my family.
"Do I always do that? No, and I should.
"My kids are at the age where they still actually like me. I can't imagine coming home to snotty teenagers after having a Ray day."
In the third season, which is now showing on FX (Singtel TV Ch 310/StarHub TV Ch 507) on Mondays at 10pm, an unhinged Ray starts working for Finney (Ian McShane), the wealthiest man in the country. US actress Katie Holmes plays Finney's daughter, Paige.
Schreiber said of Paige: "She and Ray form a strange alliance to set up a deal that will bring another football team to Los Angeles.
"Ray wants a piece of that action, to become an owner for once in his life and not just be a hired hand, and they partner up to make that happen."
Is it just a business relationship then?
Schreiber laughed and said: "Well, you know, business relationships can be complicated."
Less complicated is celebrity and its impact on Schreiber's family life, to which he adopts a philosophical attitude.
"One of my favourite parts of doing a play on Broadway (back then) was that they'd put up a barricade and people would stand outside for me to sign their playbill. It made me feel like a star and I really enjoyed that.
"Cut to 10 or 15 years later, and Naomi and I are being chased by paparazzi and I want to catch them and beat them," he said, laughing.
"Then you realise that your children pick up on that energy so you have to find a new way to think about it.
"You have to come to peace with it so that your children don't pick up on the rage that you feel, so I'm accustomed to it now."