Is Liev Schreiber Irish Catholic like his character in Showtime’s “Ray Donovan”?
—Meagan Flynn, Newark, N.J.
Schreiber, 45, is Austrian, Swiss, Irish and Scottish on his father’s side—and Protestant—while on his mother’s side, his ancestors hail from Poland, Ukraine and Germany and are Jewish.
“I actually grew up in the Lower East Side of New York City in a predominantly Roman-Catholic neighborhood,” the San Francisco, Calif.-born actor says. “First, mostly Puerto Rican, and then, when I moved to the West Side, it was almost entirely Irish. So they’re fairly familiar as subjects. I’ve always been fascinated with Southies because it’s an incredibly interesting, colorful, complex neighborhood. It wasn’t hard for me. My father’s ScotchIrish, so it’s not an entirely blind spot for me.”
A Tony Award-winning actor, the father of two sons with actress Naomi Watts has turned down a lot of offers to do TV in the past because he was afraid of having to play the same character for a long period of time, but the writing on “Ray Donovan” and the cast, which includes Jon Voight, Katherine Moennig and Steven Bauer, lured him in.
“In theater after three months, I usually go nuts playing the same character, so I was terrified of the possibility of playing the same role for five years. It is intimidating,” says Schreiber, who plays a “fixer” for the rich and famous in the Showtime series.
But he adds, “After seeing the pilot, I got it in my head that this is an interesting way to work, that you can watch something grow alongside of it. In other words, it’s not the same. Unlike the play, where it’s the same material and what you’re doing is improvising new takes on the same language, [in this series] you actually get to grow a character over time. I’m excited about that process. I’m scared, but I’m excited about it.”