Liev Schreiber ( Ray Donovan ) shares insights on his life and career
Liev Schreiber ( Ray Donovan ) – For actor Liev Schreiber, he said that there is one common denominator with the many roles he has played in his career on the stage, motion pictures and television: “Every character I did had a piece of my grandfather in it.”
“I was raised by my grandfather, and yet I didn’t know him; I never talked to him about himself. He was a tough guy from Brownsville (New York) who was a bodyguard for the Communist Party, a boxer and delivered meat to restaurants. And yet he taught me what it’s like to be a man and how to treat other people.”
Schreiber, 50, best known for such movies as “Goon”, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and the Oscar-winning “Spotlight”, as well as the hit Showtime series “Ray Donovan”, was in Montreal on November 20 to participate in a one-on-one conversation with CTV News Montreal’s Tarah Schwartz as part of the gala closing program for Federation CJA’s centennial year fundraising campaign, which raised nearly $52 million for Combined Jewish Appeal during its three month-long campaign.
The actor touched on many subjects during his engaging conversation with Ms. Schwartz. One of them was why he decided to work on the “Ray Donovan” TV series, which had a more personal reason to it, especially with his family life with wife Naomi Watts and his two children. “Naomi lived in L.A. with the kids, and I was on the road all the time, and that’s not a good life for my kids, which was why I took a job on a TV show,” he said. “And working on a TV series, as opposed to a film, is that there is a time component. You get to continue to do the life of a character, as well as continue to live with it and explore it even further.”
And he even admitted that portraying an intense character like Ray Donovan has its physical hazards. “When you’re being angry for 14 hours a day, and don’t talk very much, it ratchets up the tension, and has physical effects to the body, which is why I am now looking to do a light parlour comedy.”
Schreiber even admits that his performance in the Holocaust drama “Defiance” (about the Bielski anti-Nazi partisans in Poland) helped him to define his Jewish identity. “It’s an ongoing process that I am proud of,” he said. “They can say what they want, but they can’t say we don’t take care of our own,” he said, in praise of the work Federation CJA does for the benefit of the Montreal Jewish community.
Citing Basil Rathbone, Peter Sellers, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman and Meryl Streep as his key influences as an actor, Schreiber also shared some other interesting insights, such as why the original “Star Wars” was the first colour movie he ever saw (he admitted that his mother only let him watch black & white classic films for years), and about his “Ray Donovan” co-star Jon Voight: “Jon is out of his mind, but he is so much fun to work with.”