| BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., July 23
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., July 23 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.
Q: Did you have any reservations about doing a television
series at this stage in your career?
A: 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.'
(Editing by Mary Milliken and Mohammad Zargham)