The Showtime drama series Ray Donovan is back for Season 3, with the ultra-complicated Ray (Liev Schreiber) still the man to call, if you’re a celebrity, superstar athlete or business mogul in a situation that you want to go away. As he’s pulling away from his family, a billionaire media mogul (Ian McShane) who needs Ray’s help managing his dysfunctional children – a cut-throat daughter (Katie Holmes) and black sheep son (Guy Burnet)– while they jockey for control over their family affairs.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Dash Mihok (who plays Bunchy, the Donovan brother currently managing the Fite Club while Terry is serving time) talked about the evolution of his character, his most challenging storylines, the transition of having a new showrunner, Bunchy’s journey this season, the type of woman that might make a good match for him, how impressed he was with Liev Schreiber, as a director, and how he’d love to take on an episode himself. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: When you think back to who this character was when you first signed on to play him, how different is the Bunchy you’re playing now is from who you thought he might be?
DASH MIHOK: I think that I thought he would be the way that I’m playing him, to this day. I just didn’t know the depths and the layers that I was going to get to peel away at and discover. I knew that he had to be very complex, tortured, conflicted and confused, and struggling with different voices in his head pulling him in different ways. But when I really started to dig in, and thanks to the great writing, I just kept finding another level of pain or humor. He’s naturally funny, just because of who he is. So, I think I had a sense of him, and then I just got in there. And of course, acting opposite a lot of incredible people makes you bring you’re A-game. We all lift each other up, in that way.
Did you ever find it difficult to adjust to playing a character that isn’t very verbal, in a family of characters who aren’t very verbal, or have you enjoyed learning to rely on other aspects of yourself to communicate?
MIHOK: The greatest acting really is spoken without words, or at least I like to think that. There’s so much played, with a rainbow of emotions and things going on, in that one look with each of these characters. I just feel like a kid in a candy store. I’ve been doing this a long time, and it doesn’t come along that often that you get to play with these kinds of characters with this kind of talent. It’s been fun.
Has there been a storyline that you’ve found the most surprising or the most challenging for you to play?
MIHOK: Gosh, it’s all been challenging. I come home and I feel like I’ve been worked. I feel like I went to the gym for hours and hours and hours, having to do that for take after take after take. But, I don’t know if it’s anything in particular. It killed me to throw that kid down, last year. That was painful. Although, when we were in it, funnily enough, I didn’t feel like I threw him down hard enough. While we were shooting, I threw him into a stunt person that was holding him and there was a mattress there, but it was more of a drop. They said, “No, it looks really good.” And I was like, “Really?! I feel like I should have freaked out harder.” I’m a bad person, but that was tough. And then, there was the priest in the first season, when I basically put it all out. That was a tough one, but fun to get into.
Your original showrunner, Ann Biderman, stepped away this season, and you have a new showrunner with David Hollander. Has that transition been pretty seamless, since it is someone who was already there and who’s familiar with the show, or was there any adjustment to that?
MIHOK: I think there’s always an adjustment when somebody new is runnings things, from the top down. So, it was an adjustment, but I knew David. He had written a bunch for the show before, and I always respected his writing, and I knew that he understood this world and the darkness within everybody and the richness of all the characters. It wasn’t that hard to adjust. As a whole – as a cast and as a company – it took a episode or two to get our legs. I don’t think that’s going to show up, on screen, but just getting the machine moving and the parts clicking always takes a minute or two. But, I think it’s going to easily be as good.
When Season 3 starts, Ray has pulled away from pretty much everyone, Terry is behind bars, and no one ever really knows exactly what Mickey is up to. How is Bunchy feeling about his family and his place in it, at this point?
MIHOK: That’s the fun of playing Bunchy. I’m always skating some line between being a mess, loving my family, hating my family, desperate for them to recognize him as an adult, desperate to be visible, and fighting with his own invisibility and self-loathing. When this season picks up, you’re going to see Bunchy evolve within his family. He’s been so arrested that you’re going to get a little more color, a little more of him putting his foot down, and making sure that he is seen. That’s about as much as I can say.
It seems like Bunchy wants to find more confidence, but he’s just not quite there yet.
MIHOK: Yeah. He’s trying, but it’s been 40 years of one thing, so it’s not going to happen overnight. I think as the season progresses, you will see him emerge and at least flirt with it. He flirts with a lot of things, and there will be more flirting with him being his own man this year, for sure.
Bunchy’s interest and curiosity in the female in the troupe of Luchadores using the gym. Will we see more of that interaction?
MIHOK: Yeah, you’ll definitely get to see a little bit more of Bunchy’s intrigue with the female Luchador. I can’t tell you any more than that.
We also see Bunchy trying to navigate a dating site. What type of woman do you think would make a good match for him?
MIHOK: I think somebody who’s firm, but has a soft side to her. She has to be either so comfortable in her own skin, or comfortable with her uncomfortability. She would definitely have to be somebody who won’t put up with him being a mess and won’t allow any pity party to happen, and holds him to being a responsible adult. I think that would be a good match for him.
As the actor who’s lived in this guy’s shoes for three seasons now, what would you like to see happen for him? Would you like to see him get to his healthiest place, or do you prefer, when you’re playing him, that he stay a little screwed up?
MIHOK: I find that I want him to get his act together. And then, if he has his act together, I want him to fall apart again because that is a lot more fun. But, it’s always fun to switch it up and flirt back and forth with it. If it stays either way – just drunk and tortured, or sober and healthy – I’d get bored. My preference would be for him to go back and forth. If I had my druthers, I would say to let him keep falling off the wagon and exploring new depths of what that would mean.
You talked about how this show takes a lot out of you when you work on it. Because all of the relationships are so intense, is this a character where, when the season is finished, you like to step away from him and go on vacation for a bit?
MIHOK: I try to take a vacation from him, as soon as we wrap, during the day. There is the occasional night where I need to go and decompress and get it out of me, but for the most part, it doesn’t take that long and I can get out of him fairly quickly. But when the season has wrapped, I totally want to go do something else. I want to go play a villain or an action hero or a nice, light romantic comedy, or something. That would be good.
How did working with Liev Schreiber, as a director, compare to your working relationship, as actors?
MIHOK: Of course, they gave him a very difficult episode. Showtime said they were going to give him an easy one, and then they gave him one that had every character at a party. Those scenes are the longest to shoot and you have to shoot coverage on everybody. That was no walk in the park, and I thought he handled himself really deftly. He knows this world. He knows it so well that he wants what’s best and richest for each character. That part of it was great. He’s a good director. He’s very prepared. And I think he wanted to take it to another level. We have all these horses in the stable and we want to let them run, as fast as we can, but you can’t always do that. You have to find when you can release or giddy-up one or the other, and I think he did that with precision.
When you see him direct an episode so successfully, does it make you want to take one on, yourself?
MIHOK: Yes, 150%. I’ve directed a couple of pilots this year, that I’ve been shopping myself, so I’m all about it. I love it. I want to do it. But, that would be a conversation with Showtime’s business affairs. If they offered it to me, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I love to direct, and I love this cast. I’d be honored.
Ray Donovan airs on Sunday nights on Showtime.