I’m not a screenwriter but I like to think I can tell a good story and have written enough partial screenplays to compose the weirdest collection of stories ever. Last Friday, Cinemax’s Banshee ended its four year run with a soulful send-off. Every story line was treated deliberately and carefully. There weren’t any real cliffhangers while a few plot threads did linger. Today is the first Friday fanshees know they will forever be without this wonderful show(until the producers decide to make that movie in 2-4 years).
In order to provide a coping mechanism, I am going to break down what happened next along with a few possible plot threads. Why not? These folks are just resting in make believe outer space without any need to move so let me move them.
What happened after the series finale? Let’s roll on down the page.
Lucas rode out of town and decided to not meet Job in New York. While the disgruntled and exhausted super hacker settled in up East, Hood had other plans. He rode that bike back to the house that he built for Carrie/Ana and himself, or what was left of it. A few pieces of wood and burnt flesh removed and Hood is going to rebuild. The truth is unicorns may not exist but damn it, home insurance still does and Hood paid his taxes.
Instead of going back to a big city where some trace of the Ukrainian mob is waiting for him to arrive or stir trouble in(thief is a thief), Hood can basically resume what he was doing before Brock pulled him back into action(and getting punched). Only this time, instead of a spooky Proctor camping retreat, it’s the place where he told Carrie he’d take them. It’s a place where he can find peace, buy an old truck like the one he borrowed from Sugar, and drive it around. (more…)
Tonight, Cinemax’s golden goose of a series, Banshee, is wrapping up its four season run and I’m a sad sack of shit. Tears aren’t going to be shed. I’ll need steak, whiskey, and a boxing bag. It’s more than just a great series. For me, the show has been a reexamination of why I love great television and where the future needs to go for creators and producers looking to give fans another awesome show. Banshee delivered on so many fronts that the absence of it in 2017 is going to sting like one of Ivana Milicevic’s punches as Carrie Hopewell.
This show had it all. Violence served in a special “whatever fucking happens happens” package. Romance that dug deep. Drama that wasn’t skipped over. Sex like someone would expect on a series living on a network that made its name with porn. If you are going to fuck on Cinemax, you better make it so hot that the remote falls out of your goddamn hand. What Banshee did best was thrill the shit out of you. (more…)
Cinemax’s hit series, Banshee, is deep into its fourth season and over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had a chance to spin the random question dial with Hoon Lee, who plays the show’s most popular character in Job, the cross-dressing stylistic computer hacking criminal. Job may look like a sidekick to central protagonist Lucas Hood(Antony Starr), but he is a one man wrecking crew. He can break a man down with a wise crack, hack his computer and dish him a kick to the face or slowly form a death stare.
Instead of engaging Lee in the usual interview where scribes and actors volley routine questions and answers at each other, I went the other direction. I asked him quick random questions. Banshee addicts and normal entertainment junkies can dig these answers.
Buffa:If you weren’t an actor, you’d be….
Hoon Lee: Unemployed.
Buffa: Which is more challenging? Theater or TV/Film?
Lee: Trick question. Completely dependent on the project and the team. Strong material and good people make for short, satisfying days. Weak material and jerks can make an 8 hour day feel like a week in detention.
Buffa: Favorite movie of all time?
Lee: Oh come on!
Buffa: If you can’t get your coffee at _____, you will go insane.
Lee: Partial to Not Just Coffee in Charlotte with a nod to upcoming Hex Coffee. In New York, I like Birch Coffee. In Pittsburgh I liked Zeke’s, Constellation and Espresso a Mano – there was a lot of good coffee in Pittsburgh.
Buffa: Better food, Charlotte or Pittsburgh?
Lee: Charlotte. Good Food on Montford is tough to beat.
Buffa: Favorite episode of Banshee(most proud or likely to watch as a fan)?
Lee: I loved The Truth About Unicorns. It took courage to put that episode out there and let the show be more than it had been. I also really enjoyed the season finale for S1 as it’s one of the few times I got to play with a lot of the rest of the cast.
Buffa: When you are drinking, you are having a ______.
Lee: cookie as well.
Buffa: Best part about playing Job?
Lee: The excitement and support of the fans. They embraced this character in a way I couldn’t have anticipated and it carried me for the entire run of the show. It could have gone a completely different way and made for a rough four seasons.
Buffa: One character on Banshee you won’t want to mess with?
Lee: Hood. Dude fights with everything he’s got.
Buffa: You are on a plane and can go anywhere. Where do you direct the pilot?
Buffa: Did you keep anything from the Banshee set? If so, what?
Lee: A few articles of clothing and the back of my set chair. First time I ever had one of those.
Buffa: Star Wars: Fanatic or “what gives”?
Lee: I almost cried when I saw the first trailer.
I’ve talked to Hoon twice now and this different kind of interview is just another reason why the Banshee cast is different from most TV show groups. Every Friday night when the show comes on, they hop on Twitter and interact with fans. I mean, really interact. They care and dedicate themselves to building a bridge between performer and viewer. It’s a real treat. Come back this winter for more random question interviews with celebs, athletes and people down the street. You never know who you may get to know tomorrow. Today, it was Hoon Lee.
Banshee returns on Cinemax for its fourth and final season in exactly two months. January 29th. You can catch up via Max Go right now. Trust me, it’s worth it.
“Season 4 is going to be the most memorable, mind blowing experience ever for Banshee fans.”
All good things must come to an end, especially on television. When the master team behind Cinemax’s Banshee wrapped Season 3 and began prepping Season 4 nearly one year ago, a thought started to lurk inside the group that includes creator/writer/executive producer Jonathan Tropper, director/executive producer O.C. Madsen and writer/executive producer Adam Targum. Was it time to end Banshee? When news broke last month to fans on the internet, there was a mini explosion. Why now? Well, I have some answers.
I had the chance to discuss the show, past and present, with Targum over the phone as he uncoiled in Los Angeles mere days after wrapping production on Season 4 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Dan Buffa-Banshee really started something for Cinemax, sort of like a trailblazer for the cable network.
Adam Targum-It really did what it needed to do for Cinemax, putting it on the map as a scripted drama destination. That’s where television is going, away from network television. They can’t compete, because they are programmed for a broad audience. On Cinemax, we program to the audience that understands us. That’s why we are successful. We write and craft the shows that we want to see.
Buffa-In the same way that the Wire and Sopranos did for HBO…
Targum-Yes. When Steven Soderbergh was asked why he brought The Knick to Cinemax, he said that any place that will support and put something like Banshee on the air is a place I want to work.
Buffa-One of the things you do with the show is push the limits of normal storytelling and keeping it fresh. Does Season 4 continue that?
Targum-I think Season 4 is going to be the best season yet! Season 3, we did our best to create the most action packed, over the top, heart pounding adventure that we possibly could. That was our goal. In the offseason, we realized we were never going to top that and there was no reason to try. In season 4, we took a different approach to the storytelling in trying to maximize these incredible characters. We found the perfect balance between action, character and story. This season is more serialized than ever with each episode fitting very snugly with the narrative. Instead of bringing these different antagonists for Lucas Hood to deal with, we wanted to used the existing characters and turn it all inward. The story lines intersect, thus making a more richer, more thought out story line.
Buffa-Season 4 is the end. When did you and the rest of the gang know this was it.
Targum-We had a sense that this could be happening really early on. Jonathan, O.C. and I had conversations about what we could do to carry the story forward and while Jonathan was open to a season five, it was very important to him that there was an organic story line and that the characters had a real place to go. He didn’t want to rehash old story lines. We spent several months spitballing the ideas for a Season 5, and at the end of the day, we realized we had done everything we could do with these characters. It was important to honor Jonathan’s original vision in taking these characters as far as we could take them and make sure we were delivering the audience the most fitting conclusion we possibly could.
While it’s bittersweet, this is the perfect time to bring this story to an end. As Jonathan said in that great Grantland piece, there’s nothing more tragic than a show that sticks around too long. We didn’t want people to watch Season 5 and think, “Man, I’ve seen this before. This episode feels like the one from Season 2.” It’s really exciting because of the freedom it gave us in crafting the perfect finale.
Buffa-A lot was left on the table at the end of Season 3. Lucas and Kai had that chat that seemed to bury the hatchet between them. People died. Job was kidnapped. What can you tell us about the jumping off point of Season 4? Is there a time jump?
Targum-The best way for me to answer that question is to tell you to watch episode 1 in January of 2016 and see where it goes. Coming out of Season 3, we did lay some significant story pipe to be addressed. We had Lucas walking away from being the sheriff, and it felt different than it did in the past. It felt like it had more finality to it. A truce between Proctor/Hood possibly. Deva’s state of mind. Carrie’s state of mind. Job’s whereabouts? It left a lot of rich opportunities for us to explore. And we address all of those dangling hanging chads when this season starts up. That doesn’t mean people will be happy with the way we address them. That’s the thing about Banshee. Everyone doesn’t like the choices that our characters make. Ultimately, the audience understands why we make them and that is because it is best for the characters.
The other thing that is really exciting about Season 4 is that within the first five minutes of the first episode, we turn a lot of things on their head. There are surprises and big turns that the audience won’t see coming. That’s the mandate as a whole, and that’s constantly push the envelope of the show. Do things that only Banshee can do. That has to do with how we tell our story. We aren’t precious with our characters, as the first three seasons showed. We do kill characters that audiences love and that’s not to enrage our viewers. Sometimes, we need catalysts that drive our characters in different directions. As I always say to people..in real life people have sex. They kill each other. They are cruel to each other. There is incest and trucks do blow up. As much as our set pieces are heightened at times, the thing that brings it back to reality is that the characters stories are very grounded. These people are struggling with regret, lost love and that makes it relatable.
Buffa-There has to be consequences for the characters on this show and Siobhan’s death was proof of that.
Targum-It was a very difficult decision for a number of reasons. First, we love Trieste(Kelly Dunn) and she is a very important part of the family. Also, we knew this was the final hope Lucas Hood had at salvation and a chance for love. Ultimately, we decided that Lucas Hood doesn’t deserve to have those things. As painful as it was for me to write it, watch it get shot and see it air, it wasn’t something haphazardly done. This was the best move to drive Hood forward in his narrative. The fact that fans mourned her like she was a real person is a testament to the people who work on this show, most notably Trieste, the writing team and directing team. In season 4, they will see why we made that decision and why it’s best for the show.
Buffa-Each season seems to build on the last.
Targum-They do. I mean, we wrapped Season 3 in mid September and by the end of September, Jonathan and I were sitting in a restaurant talking about Season 4. We took time in talking about each individual character before we started plotting. We knew when we got into the writer’s room, in November, both of us knew the beginning, middle and end of each of these characters. Season 4, for all intents and purposes, could be an eight hour long movie.
Buffa-How important is Antony Starr to the production? He seems to eat, sleep and bleed Lucas Hood.
Targum-He truly is, but we have a lot of people like that on this show. There’s no question. Ant is the #1. He’s never about vanity. He doesn’t care how he looks on screen. It’s always about “what would Lucas Hood do?” Antony has incredible story instinct and in Season 4, he took a very hands on approach with us in making sure that the narrative was as tightly woven as we needed it to be. I will say though, that Ivana and Ulrich are also big parts of that process. Ulrich will not just give us notes on his scenes but on the episodes as a whole. We have a cast that really cares about the show.
There are new faces this season in Eliza Dushku, Ana Aayora, Jennifer Landon and Fred Weller. They immediately fit the bit and were committed to the project. There’s not a weak link this season. Having such versatile actors allows us to push the envelope even further. That made it especially hard to wrap up, knowing this kind of group may not come together again.
Buffa-The move from Charlotte, North Carolina to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania must of been a little rough.
Targum-It was a culture shock in a lot of different ways. In the end, we found a good balance of the old and the new. There are things that will look different, and we explain very effectively why they do. It will look like a fresh show, but also feel like Banshee. In a pragmatic sense, we had to build new sets and bring in 75% of a brand new crew. What we found was that the new Pittsburgh crew came in with a lot of enthusiasm. A lot of the crew were fans of the show and went out of their way to get hired onto the set.
I walked around on set, feeling this energy from these 200 people who were fans of the show now working to make it new. When we wrapped the show and speeches were being made, there were a lot of tears and melancholy but also a huge sense of pride in what we had made. We screened the first episode and they were blown away, saying that this was the Banshee they always wanted to make.
Buffa-For most of these actors, it’s like burying a character you’ve grown attached to.
Targum-It’s immersive. We all live away from home for months shooting this show and there are a lot of long stressful days. I joined the series in Season 3, and Jonathan and Greg immediately gave me the opportunity to put my voice on the show. In Season 4, O.C. and I were running the day to day operations, working with Jonathan, and it helped take the show to another level. Season 4 is where Banshee matures. It feels like a more sophisticated show. And that’s a testament to everyone who works on the show. From the craft services to the #1 person on the call sheet. It’s truly magical. I wish January was tomorrow.
Buffa-It just gives me more time to tell people to watch the show.
Targum-Banshee is a word of mouth show. People walk up to me and have no idea what it is and I tell them it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen on TV and they say whatever. When they come back and say, “oh my god that’s unlike anything I’ve seen on television today,” I say, now you know, so go tell a friend.
Buffa-I recently told someone they should go make friends with a neighbor they don’t like if that neighbor has Cinemax.
Targum-(laughs)Yes. The truth of the matter is that Cinemax is very affordable. Anytime people tell they don’t have it or can’t afford it, I tell them call your cable provider because the extra 6 or 7 extra dollars is well worth it. Especially now with Cinemax putting an emphasis on scripted drama. They are becoming a top notch destination for top rate drama.
Buffa-One of the things I am most looking forward to is more of the Bunker brothers, played by Tom Pelphrey and Chris Coy. The end of Season 3 really started something there.
Targum-Yes it did. Pelphrey has brought an incredible amount of heart and humanity to Kurt Bunker, the neo Nazi, which I will say is not an easy thing to do. When we came up with characters for season 3, what an interesting notion to have a reformed hate mongering neo nazi who has given up the hate and ideology but still has the exterior signs on his body. What better place for him to come to than Banshee. Tom is unique talent, and has so much range and soul. That’s where we came up with the idea of his brother, played by Coy.
I’ve known Chris for 6 or 7 years. I cast him in a small film called Rogue River, a little horror film we shot in Oregon in -12 degree weather. Chris refused to get warm throughout the shoot because he knew the character didn’t need to get warm. I knew he was the real deal right there. He’s a true method actor who immerses himself in the role. We really advance that story line of the two brothers in this Neo-Nazi brotherhood. We explore the backstory of these two brothers. How Kurt was recruited by the brotherhood and how he brought his brother Calvin into it later on, leaving him with tremendous guilt. We throw real conflict between these two and from beginning to end, it’s explosive.
Buffa-I can’t stop thinking about Pelphrey’s scene in the finale in the basement with Brock Lotus(Matt Servitto). That’s my favorite scene from Banshee, all time.
Targum-That scene Jonathan had written as an audition scene for Kurt Bunker. It grew and finessed so it could fit into the story line. Jonathan wrote this monologue that really embodied what we were looking for in Bunker and Pelphrey did it and was incredible. As we were moving forward in Season 3, that scene came up and it was a perfect moment for us to put it out there. During his three minute monologue in episode 305(Tribal), Tom showed such range that we decided to take that other scene and adapt it. We shot that pretty late. Tom, wrapping the belt around his hand, which was something he did on his own, blew us away in that first take with his level of emotion and intensity. Matt Servitto came over to me afterwards and said in the beginning of the scene he wasn’t acting but simply trying to calm Tom down. It was such a powerful performance. I remember watching the crew react to the scene and seeing how visceral it was, knowing it was going to be one of our best scenes. We only did 3 or 4 takes because it was so intense.
What’s most important about that scene is the relationship being built between Bunker and Brock. It’s Brock becoming a father figure for Kurt, who never had a real father.
Buffa-I remember telling someone these are the scenes that separate Banshee from other shows and people’s perception of the show from the outside.
Targum-I’m happy to hear that because I will tell you, there is a lot more of those type of scenes in Season 4. It was very important to the entire team that we found more of those moments where the actors could dive deep into these characters. This season, there is a scene around 8 minutes long that is one of the most powerful scenes we have shot. It will be a show stopper in Season 4 because when you have characters opening themselves up, it gives viewers a window into who they really are that a fist fight or gun fight can’t really do. That’s a testament to the work Greg, Jonathan, David, and O.C. did in Season 1. Since then, it’s evolved. In Season 4, we found the perfect balance in putting the viewers in these characters minds.
In the end, Jonathan, O.C. and I make television that we want to watch. That’s what separates it from the rest.
Buffa-You can tell when there’s passion and when there’s just effort.
Targum-You can. It shows. I was a fan of the show before I came on. The people who worked on the crew this season were big fans. When we handed out scripts, we had to use extra security. You don’t want to spoil the surprise. It is fun to see the fans speculate online and while 99 percent of it isn’t true, it’s always nice to know we are going to surprise the audience because they have a different expectation.
Buffa-The last thing I wanted to ask about was Lucas and Carrie, the lost soul couple at the heart of the show. One thing on people’s minds is the idea of them coming back together in this final season. What do you have in store for them this time around?
Targum-Anything is possible.They are always going to be at the forefront of the fiber of Banshee. Their complicated relationship and past was such an intricate part of the pilot that it will always play a part in the story. They share a daughter together in Deva. We spent a lot of time servicing those two characters. They love and care about each other deeply, but the external world doesn’t care about that. We do spend quite a bit of time this season exploring their relationship and come to a definitive conclusion on what happens between them.
Buffa-Shooting Banshee has to be a roller coaster in itself. What are your best memories from making Banshee? Any definitive moments?
Targum-So many of them. The making of episode 305, Tribal, last season was the most intense experience of my career. We spent 8 or 9 days inside the Cadi shooting that episode with O.C. Madsen and a good part of our cast. There were 3,000 squibs and thousands more. We were all there, in it, and covered in debris. It was hot and muggy. No air conditioning. It was oppressive. Those hardships are up on the screen and I couldn’t have been any prouder of that episode. It has signature character moments. It’s the end of Siobhan. The moment where Brock stands up to Lucas. We made Chayton into this monster.
Season 4 was special because I got to spend so much time collaborating with O.C., who is a true visionary. He was there from day 1 and brought a different level of character to the show. Jonathan Tropper, who has become a close friend, directed an episode in Season 4. It was satisfying seeing him translate his words to the screen and make all the decisions. It was also incredibly hard this last week. The last week of production was challenging for us. We had to say goodbye to the actors. Every time we did, the crew would gather around, and we were all so connected. It was a special moment, and on Friday night, we wrapped the final part. Lots of hugs. Tears. Throughout, it was an overwhelming sense of pride.
It was important for us to honor the audience. When they walk away from season 4, they feel like we did them justice and we did the show justice. I’d love for them to feel a little sad because there will be no more new episodes, but I think they will be satisfied with what we have done.
Buffa-So now, you guys go into post-production?
Targum-From the moment we start shooting, the post-production team and editors start on the assembly. Half of the episodes have already gone through director cuts, producer cuts and gotten notes from the network. Sound is mixed. Things are cut together. Now the intense post-production begins. We also shot origins this year, and they focused heavily on Sugar Bates, played by Frankie Faison. Matty Rauch(aka Clay Burton), got to write and direct some of the origins. He gives 100% and it was gratifying to give him the room to explore the other creative needs he has.
Buffa-If you had to pump fans up with one line about Season 4, what would it be?
Targum-Whatever expectations you have, we are going to exceed them. We are going to shock, surprise and take the fans on an emotional roller coaster ride. I truly believe this will be the most memorable and mind blowing season yet. We are going out with a bang!
In the make believe business, everybody is a creator. The producer creates the possibility. The writer creates the reality and world the characters live in. The director frames those characters in that world. The actors make them come alive. Adam Targum’s effect on Banshee in Season 3 was seen in nearly every episode, whether it was the Burton-Nola fight or the Tribal shootout. He’s got a wicked mind that extends to an original form of violence, action and power as well. The whiff you got of his talents in Season 3 comes full circle in Season 4, along with Madsen, Tropper and the cast.
Instead of crying about the inevitable end, think of the way a show like Banshee, which blows originality out of the water on a weekly basis, will go out. Think of the spectacle. Forget Game of Thrones. Winter is coming folks. It’s name is Banshee and it arrives in January. Consider this the official tease.
Quick Note to Leftovers fans: Justin Theroux’s Kevin, the fucked up centerpiece of HBO’s unpredictable marriage of Lost and The Twilight Zone, isn’t dead. Calm down. Regroup. Make more coffee. He wasn’t killed off on Sunday’s episode.
Yes, he did drink the poison glass in order to escape the Patti confrontations and restore order in his life. Yes, he did foam at the mouth Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction style. No, the old wise man who promised to bring him back squirted the drug onto the floor and blew his head off. Yes, Kevin is more than likely alive and well. Co-creator Damon Lindelof didn’t kill his Matthew Fox 2.0 just yet. Take away Kevin and there’s plenty of juice dripping from the steak of HBO’s fall tentpole, but I can’t see a situation where it’s done in the second season.
Bold strokes keep a show like this afloat but with the season devoting so much time to the Kevin storyline, why would they just kill him off by drinking a glass of dirty magic water. That is no way to dish Jennifer Aniston’s new beau the death ticket. He will be back next week as Season 2 takes its final swings.
Part of the hysteria of watching an original piece of entertainment like HBO’s weirdo blend is having zero clue what is going to happen with the quiet assurance that every exit will be a big one. Lindelof has created along with Patrick Sommerville and novelist Tom Perrotta a series that asks the toughest questions without answering the obvious one. Such as, three years on October 15th, where did all those people go? The Departed, vanished, missing or all together gone up and burst into one puffy flakes folks. I prefer the answer to never drop because it will never match the hype that has built for over a year. Aliens would be lame. God stepping in for some weeding would be lame. A spiritual arrival would be lame. Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga kidnapping thousands of folks from their homes would be twisted but still not work. The trick with the Leftovers is peering into the human soul via this organic plot device.
Take Theroux’s Kevin, a former cop who can’t find any inner peace because the woman he kidnapped while sleepwalking and saw commit suicide haunts his daily movements. Yeah, he sleepwalks so much that his girlfriend Nora needs to handcuff him to the bed. A predicament that set him back on Sunday’s episode. An episode that was devoted to the “Is Kevin a psycho or simply an innocent dead people viewer” conundrum. Apparently, it’s bad to tell your lover that there is another person in the room taunting them. It’s an even worse idea to tell them its the same person you watched stab herself in the throat. Especially if your lady is a woman who lost her entire family in the Departed and used to cure her pain by having strangers shoot her in the chest.
Tell me there isn’t a more romantic couple on television than the sleepwalking rippled arm Kevin and the former gunshot vested Nora. No way.
In trying to save that love and defy the idea that he is like his crazy people seeing father(Scott Glenn, missed this season), Kevin says yes to the old man’s wishes in drinking the poison to go fight his demons. He takes the plunge for love and sanity. Did he pay the ultimate price? No. Kevin is still alive folks. He may still be damaged, sweaty, and full of misery but he isn’t gone.
How good is the acting on Leftovers? It’s astonishing. It’s not just convincing. These actors meld themselves into the roles. A cast of ensemble performers, stage trained thespians, and names no one has seen on a poster before. Theroux, better known for his wife and the fact that he co-wrote Iron Man 2. Carrie Coon, known for playing Ben Affleck’s sister in Gone Girl. Christopher Eccleston(who may have stole the best episode from each season) from an assortment of supporting roles. Regina King, a face from film’s past. Amy Brenneman, who will always be Judging Amy to most and Robert DeNiro’s girlfriend from Heat. Kevin Carroll. Margaret Qualley. The gifted Ann Dowd. Several true actors and no stars. All going for broke for Lindelof’s spooky drama.
Every character on this show could carry the show for their own hour. Look at Eccleston’s solo act two weeks ago. The hour starting with the tale of Matt and his
What is next? I suppose Matt’s wife is going to get out of that wheelchair and convince everyone the holy man isn’t nuts. John is going to find out Kevin’s palm print was the one found on his missing daughter’s car. That should be a nice wakeup call for our poisoned anti-hero. Nora will come back to Kevin but that won’t end up. I suppose a front lawn boxing match with King’s Erika could suffice. The town will be revealed as bullshit by the end of season 2 due to the fact that the three girls supposedly disappeared. What if they didn’t though? What if the three girls ran away? If not, what is the real season 2 theme? Same old departure all over again. Kevin sleepwalking. Matt getting his wife pregnant. John and his anger management issues.
The biggest kick in Season 2’s story has been the strain that belief can put on the human soul. What if thousands of people flocked to one town because they thought it was safe? What if it wasn’t a miracle and just a chance encounter with luck? What if John’s angry firefighting ex-con is right and it’s all made up. Isn’t that a direct tie to religion general? A bunch of people thinking someone above them is in control instead of themselves. That a higher power is their reason for what happened three years ago. What will be the big reveal of Season 2’s finale?
Maybe the cast will just act the shit out of their scenes, present new twists for Season 3 and retain our attention. The greatness of a TV show like the Leftovers is making the viewer think a little while examining their own needs and identity. This show will turn the tables on you more than once.
The show has gotten better this year. It was always interesting and wacky fun in Season 1, but this year the complexity has developed. The second act has been more invigorating, intense and well put together than the first season. As long as the season doesn’t end on a major cliffhanger and doesn’t show Aliens sucking people into the sky, The Leftovers will have survived the dreaded sophomore curse(looking at you True Detective).
Speaking of that recent HBO misfire, Lindelof is chasing the same themes that Nic Pizzolatto did on True Detective. Loss, abandonment, false sense of security, meaning of life, destiny, desolation, and the idea of living with what you are in this world. One creator is doing a better job of expanding on his story than the other. Instead of focusing on the “what”, Damon Lindelof is keeping his focus on the characters and their plight.
January 29th, 2016. The final season of Cinemax’s wonderfully pulp smash hit, Banshee, fires up its fourth and final season. Like a steak getting thrown on a grill, this final season has many flavors that the creators and cast hope to contain before the episodes unfold. For now, all fans can do is sit at their computer screen and watch this brand new trailer(which debuted at New York’s Comic Con this past week) about 57 times and smolder in anticipation. The best shows leave just enough juice dripping next to their audiences outstretched hands. Here’s what I got from the 72 second clip.
*Job’s captor has been found, captured and punched. The clip opens with Lucas, Carrie, and Sugar overlooking Stowe’s techie dude who drugged and snatched the lovable Job at the end of Season 3’s climatic shootout. Will he tell them where Job is? Does he even know? Is Dalton involved? Does anyone know where Jimmy Hoffa is while we are on the subject? I kid, I kid. The location of Hoon Lee’s irreplaceable(yeah you can replace Spider Man and Batman 30 times but you CAN NOT replace Job) hacker is the centerpiece of Season 4’s beginning.
“Let’s finish it.”A sense of finality overwhelms this trailer and truly informs the viewer these worlds are colliding fast and ending with brute force.
*Carrie’s loading up with guns. Why not? She wants to know where Job is and for good reason. Ever since he judged her outfit that first night in the club before the jewel heist, he has been family to our beloved safecracker. Job got Ana a new life and a way out way back when before Lucas(or Gary?) got out of prison and brought hell with him. She lost Gordon at the end of Season 3 and is pissed. She still has her kids, but I feel like this Carrie has more edge and spice to her than ever. And Ivana Milicevic is a badass. She needs to be in more movies. In black leather. Kicking, punching and shooting devilish stares at people. The world may spin properly.
*Hey, Lucas has hair! What the heck? Who hid the razor!?! I actually like the new look on our rugged sinner with a heart of gold, Mr. Hood. Lawmen have to look tidy and sharp, and Lucas is a badge no more. Why is Lucas Hood so invigorating to watch? Well, Antony Starr spends 365 days a year figuring out new ways to be awesome at this role that millions adore and the work shows in every scene. The way he looks at the camera in front of the police photo booth. The way he can stare at someone and seem to be mentally kicking their butt. Our scrappy Rocky with a chip on his shoulder won’t stop fighting until he feels like everyone in his life is safe. In Banshee, that’s scheduled for sometime in 2025. Good luck, Lucas. It’s a good thing we like watching him take a punch. He doesn’t know how to quit wrecking lives and the audience doesn’t know how to stop watching him do it. Wish the marriage could go on but the world isn’t supposed to be perfect so….
“I won’t give it(Banshee) up without a fight.”The soulful and much needed presence of Matt Servitto’s Brock Lotus seems to be talking to Lucas here about a final plea to defend his town, Banshee. There seems to be a mysterious character in a hoodie that shows up to make Brock’s life a living hell here. The crutch of the show’s immorality and violence is Brock and his desire to not just partake in the madness but try to understand it. The way he asked Lucas in New Orleans about WHY they do what they do and go after the revenge. The bridge between justice and revenge…how small or long is it? At the heart of that question is Servitto’s cop who desperately clings to the goodness left in him.
*Hello Eliza Dushku. She enters the picture as Special Agent Veronica Dawson. She specializes in violent crimes, which means she showed up to Banshee 30 hours late. She is going to be a thorn in Brock, Lucas, Kai Proctor and pretty much anyone who harms another this season. I haven’t seen enough of this talented actress lately but I am glad she is in town bleeding and fighting with the rest. It isn’t like she is beautiful or anything to boot.
*What’s happening with the Proctor clan tripod? What are Matthew Rauch’s Clay Burton and Lili Simmons’ Rebecca Bowman doing behind Proctor’s back that makes her worry? Are they dealing drugs behind his back? Is there is a breakdown in the deal with the Armenians? As always, strange dealings there.
*I don’t care if they left Season 3 sitting next to each other on a piece of lumber without the need to punch each other. Lucas and Kai are going to clash. The three seasons have danced around them like a devil around a fire and they will lock horns. Lucas just doesn’t have to worry about the badge getting in the way but, as we see him being hauled in by Brock, maybe he finds himself back in a cage for the first time since he left prison. Agent Dawson is right. There is more criminal than cop in Lucas and that is why she should be worried about him the most.
It’s always the evil side of humans that sneaks up on people. Especially between men and women. What an interesting dance of feels. Everybody has a choice to be good or bad, but the cruelness of humans always cuts deeper at first sight. Write that down, Agent Dawson.
“Power comes from being willing to do whatever it takes.” You are right Mr. Chris Coy, coming back at Kurt Bunker’s evil brother who left a smoky stamp on the deputy’s chest at the end of season 3. He may be a bad man, but he knows what it takes to stand on top. You have to refuse to see the harm you are doing because you believe that it is the right path to ride out.
*Proctor talking to Carrie for the first time, reminding her that kids’ futures are at stake.
*Carrie rocking a torch. Yeah, there’s nothing Milicevic(get her name right or she’ll knock you out) can’t do.
*Burton breaks out the chainsaw because…well, Burton likes chainsaws. Not sure why it took the bosses three years to make Matty Rauch a regular. He’s a much needed batch of mystery! For anyone who may get the opportunity to talk to Rauch in real life, he’s a prince!
“So what happens now?
The best dishes on television are indeed served cold my friends. Creator Jonathan Tropper, producer/director O.C. Madsen and producer/writer Adam Targum aren’t going to let us off easily. Whatever happens to Job, Brock or Carrie, Lucas and company will avenge it. The signature concoction of Banshee is imperfect people waging war against others and within themselves. He can do a lot of bad things and make a terrible decision every episode, but at the heart of Lucas Hood’s madness is a guy wanting to protect what he loves, no matter what. His final fight with his enemies and himself will be one for the record books. On January 29th, it all starts. I’d start preparing now.
In March, I talked to writer/creator/executive producer Jonathan Tropper about Cinemax’s Banshee. Here is the conversation as Season 4 preps for launch.
Banshee’s third season finale brought fans to their knees again with the death of another central character in Gordon Hopewell(played so well by Rus Blackwell), the capture of a fan favorite in Job(Hoon Lee) and ended with Proctor(Ulrich Thomsen) and Hood(Antony Starr) chatting no longer like rivals but possible partners in crime. Another hour that reminded us that the show is never letting up or slowing down. Co-creator and executive producer Jonathan Tropper spoke with me over the phone about the finale, unveiling Hood’s background, and how Season 4 will be completely different than what you expect it to be. Another chat between two guys who love Banshee.
Dan Buffa-How does the weekly anticipation for a new episode feel on the creator’s end?
Jonathan Tropper-Once it’s done shooting and on TV, it’s a piece of a cake for me. I’m halfway through season 4’s script. Season 3 can take care of itself at this point.
DB-Being the co-creator of these rich characters, how hard is it to ultimately plot their demise, like we saw with long time residents, Siobhan Kelly, and in the finale, Gordon Hopewell?
When we aired episode 5(Tribal, where Trieste Kelley Dunn’s Siobhan is killed off), even though I planned it and looked over the script while seeing the early cuts, I haven’t let myself really watch the end of the episode until after it aired. It was upsetting. I love Trieste and the character. You love to keep everyone around. However, we made a commitment when we started the show that there has to be really severe consequences for what Lucas and Carrie have done. We don’t want to be the show where things get hairy for a little while and then everything is put behind them. Lucas has done some bad shit and so has Carrie. You don’t get to escape. The consequences don’t stop coming.
DB-A lot of shows are complacent and resist making these dramatic changes to the show. Banshee goes full speed ahead. You are fearless.
JT-Our attitude always was, “We were damn lucky to get on the air and we were lucky to find our viewership, but the goal really is we treat each season like a brand new show. We try very hard to not make the same story twice or the exact same 10 episodes we just made without flushing stuff about the show that people really like.
DB-One of the the highlights for me of “All of Us Pay Eventually” was diving back into Lucas’ past and connecting the dots between his army activities and his specialized skill set exploits? How long has this history dose been in the works?
JT-It’s interesting. We definitely try to create the sense of these characters’ past with the Welcome to Banshee website, anywhere from 15 years ago to 10 years ago. The idea is that you have come into the end of a very long story. Both (David, co-creator)Schlickler and I along with Greg Yaitanes are big Star Wars fans, so you are coming in at Episode 4. We didn’t have it all so carefully worked when we did our first season, because you never expect to get the chance. Once we got on the air, we realized we can go back and flesh out his past. A big idea when we were coming into Season 2 was “What if Lucas Hood wasn’t the first time he became someone else?” That’s when it occurred to us that he may have had another life before he even met Carrie.
DB-Lucas is pretty good at shedding identities and moving forward, unlike his adversaries Kai and Chayton, who know exactly who they are.
JT-At 18, he’s in the army. Then he is in covert ops. He’s never actually been a real adult. Now, at the age of 40, he doesn’t have any idea who he is, which makes him a very complicated character.
DB-That makes it great TV. Who wants a regular guy at the center of this kind of show.
JT-His tortured soul is spilling out over the entire town and torturing everyone else.
DB-When I think of Lucas Hood, I remember this great line from a Showtime series called Brotherhood, where a man compared his gangster brother to a tornado because of the damage he inflicts on those around him.
JT-That’s a great line. Like Brock says, everything he touches turns to blood.
DB-Being the creator and co-producer of the show, does every script that we see on screen have your fingerprints, in some way, on it?
JT-I plan the whole season with the writers. We outline all the episodes together. After the writer do a draft, I read it and note it. Adam Targum reads it first and it comes to me. I make a final pass and tend to rewrite certain dialogue. Being a bit of a control freak, I have a very specific way I hear these characters in my head. The writers obviously write a lot of great stuff that stays in there. Then there are certain instances where I know Job wouldn’t say something in this particular way, so I end up putting my spin on it. The final script goes past my desk, which is common for all shows.
DB-The characters are your babies, so there is a sense of ownership there, so it’s only right to step in when needed.
JT-Sometimes it may not even be fair, and it just sounds wrong to me. It doesn’t mean it would sound on TV, but you lose a certain objectivity at some point. You have to make sure it all sounds the way you created it in the beginning. My job is keeping it consistent.
DB-The finale serves up a dual sided revenge/rescue action extravaganza with Hood/Hopefull raiding Camp Genoa and Proctor taking down Frazier with Hector. How exciting is it to create and write action scenes for the stunt crew to bring to life?
JT-We love doing it. We sit in the writers room and imagine how it’s going to play out. We write them out scene by scene. Then we find the location and then we rewrite it to fit the location. When Marcus and his team get there, they are very creative and while respecting the story points, they present certain sequences and very often they add a lot to it.
DB-Banshee’s action is second to none sir. I know you’ve said that you take a lot of inspiration from the old school action films that play in the middle of the night on cable, and I recognize a lot of that.
JT-We are just really determined. Any time we pay tribute to something, we’ll pay tribute to it, but we are really determined to not be derivative except in the best possible way. We want to pay tribute to everything from 80’s action to Tarantino, but at the same time we want it be unique to us.
DB-The clash between Carrie and Stowe brought back memories of the Olek battle. A constant on Banshee are these signature all out brawls that feature men and women beating the crap out of each other. You don’t see that anyone else on TV.
JT-We don’t even think about it. We make our female characters every bit as dangerous as our male characters, so there really is no reason they shouldn’t fight each other. They are just as deadly.
DB-That’s another way Banshee raises the bar. I watch way too much TV and most of the shows stay grounded and don’t explore anything that involves a certain risk.
JT-Greg and I came from other gigs, so the philosophy that came about was, “We’d rather fail spectacularly than have a dull success.” I’d rather shoot for it and fail than play it safe and have a Season 3 that feels just like Season 2.
DB-There are elements from other shows, but with Banshee, it’s that “HOLY SHIT” factor that keeps getting pushed up.
JT-We don’t necessarily try to top ourselves. We just don’t want to get complacent.
DB-The abduction/extraction of Job at the end sets up a room full of possibilities for Season 4 but it puts our favorite wise cracking computer hacker in a horrible position. Captured and nowhere near a computer.
JT-The biggest problem is the guy they need to help find Job is in fact Job. He has always been the brains of the operation. How do you even begin to find him without his resources? I don’t really want to get into Season 4 because what we have planned is so surprising but this doesn’t play out like you would expect.
DB-The last scene of the episode didn’t full lay out but hinted at a possible Proctor-Hood alliance? Is that a wrong way to look at that conversation? Two men who may be more useful to each other than they are sparring against each other?
JT-Certainly now that Hood isn’t the sheriff, He and Proctor wouldn’t be enemies so we will definitely see that relationship head in a different direction.
DB-Banshee doesn’t work like most shows, where there is a true good guy and bad guy. There are shades of gray involved so a possible Hood-Proctor alliance shouldn’t surprise the hardcore fans of the show.
JT-We’ve always been careful that our villains are never fully villains and our heroes are never fully heroes. Everyone has a certain level of humanity to them and sympathetic in their own way. No one is really good or bad. They are alpha males pursuing their own agendas. Hood and Proctor’s relationship will continue to evolve and change.
Watching Antony Starr work is a weekly pleasure. How happy are you with the actor’s portrayal of your central character?
JT-It’s fantastic. The truth is when we wrote Lucas Hood four years ago, he was imagined as a different character than the way Antony plays him. He was imagined as a lot more verbose, smart ass, overtalking things and being this brash conversationalist. Then Antony came in and brought this gravity to it and this twinkle in his eye to where he gets it but he doesn’t have to talk about it as much. We then started writing more towards the way Antony played him. He’s become a very different character than we first envisioned but it’s hard to to remember that even because by the first three episodes, we were already writing him differently due to the way Ant brought him to life. Now I can’t imagine him any other way.
DB-It’s amazing work. Starr does a lot without saying much. Most actors need that dialogue to properly build a character.
JT-Ant created such a sense of burden in the way Lucas handles everything and the weight that Lucas carries the guilt and the pain. When he did that, it changed the way we wrote the character and the show itself. He raised the stakes, like this wasn’t just an action show, it’s a guy who in tremendous pain and that angst ended up spreading out to the whole world of Banshee. That all came from the way Antony built the character.
DB-You see that back in the first season with the pilot. That internal struggle of Lucas.
JT-We were always a character driven show. We try to not let that get lost in the action. That’s how we sold it originally to HBO before Cinemax had original programming. We told them it was a character driven show with a slightly preposterous premise. When we went to Cinemax, we amped up the action but we always try to be a character driven show.
Banshee addicts, you can trust Tropper with your Friday nights and know that the show will never get lazy and always push the envelope. With these creators, you have a group that is determined to blow you away every single week. They go big or they go home. Tropper and Yaitanes are fanboys of old school cinematic action just like it’s audience, so it creates a trust between makers and receivers that something special is coming every week. As the real Lucas Hood said back in the pilot, “You can always reheat a steak but it’s never quite the same.” In a way, that’s Banshee. Always evolving but keeping the soul intact, thanks to creators like Jonathan Tropper.
Season 4 premieres in January, 2016. The entire third season of Banshee is available on Cinemax On Demand or Max Go.
The weekly revisiting of Banshee interviews continues with Geno Segers, who created the fearsome Chayton Littlestone.
In the land of film and television, a world of make believe, Geno Segers is the complete package. He has the size, voice and the charisma of a man who knows what he wants and how he wants it. That road led him to Cinemax’s hit show, Banshee, where he has turned a tough looking guy in Chayton Littlestone into a character with substance and many layers of intrigue.
It turns out that forces of nature can be gentlemanly and revealing as well. I had the chance to speak with Segers this week about Chayton’s motivations, the reaction to killing a beloved character on screen and Friday’s huge showdown in New Orleans. This isn’t 60 minutes, folks. Just a couple of dudes talking about Banshee.
Dan Buffa-Friday looks like it’s going to be an exciting night for Fanshees.
Geno Segers-A lot of people are anticipating this meeting of the minds so to speak.
DB-When it comes to you and Antony Starr(who plays Lucas Hood on the show), it’s more like meeting of the fists. When you two see each other on set, do you sigh and think to yourself, “Oh boy”. I mean, there’s a lot of physicality between you two.
GS-Antony and I are really good friends actually. I used to live in New Zealand. I was a rugby player for several years and he grew up there. We more than likely ran into each other a few times. He was an up and coming actor and I was coming out of rugby and doing security along with other small businesses. It’s not a big place, but we would run into each other several times without really knowing it.
DB-So you are saying we have an origin story of Chayton and Lucas set up here.
GS-That’s an origin in reality. A Geno and Antony story.
DB-Let’s get the big elephant out of the room. How much hate did you receive when Chayton killed off the beloved Siobhan Kelly?
GS-Honestly, it was quite an interesting week. There was a lot of hate for Chayton, as you can imagine. I expected it and I looked forward to it. I learned very quickly that people viewed it differently. Some people sided with Chayton. Being a Fanshee myself, I didn’t side with Chayton. I wanted to see him die a miserable death. The line got crossed only once, and this guy said something to me about wanting the actor who played Chayton to die. Come on man. I’m just doing what the writers want me to do. Some people enjoy the freedom they have to speak bluntly over Twitter and social media whereas they couldn’t say it in person. When I see people in public, it’s all about love. It’s praise. The comments are so far one way and then so far the other way. My grandmother always told me, “Don’t drink anybody’s kool aide. If the kool aid is not sweet enough, you add a little sugar. If it’s too sweet, you add a little water. If you add something to someone else’s kool aid, it’s not their kool aid anymore. It’s your kool aid.” Compare that to the comments. If someone says somebody really nice about me, I add a little water. If someone says something really negative, I add some water. I must have done a really good job if that guy wanted me to die. I read the comments but I don’t embody them or take them personally.
DB-Everybody loves a good bad guy. Good guys need a great bad guy to make the show work. This season, Chayton has become that big bad. When I talked to Loni Peristere(Director and Executive Producer) before the season, he talked about making Chayton something more. Season 3 has seen that transformation come full circle, and also seen Chayton tumble down the rabbit hole of violence.
GS-Yeah, Chayton takes a turn for the worse when his brother, Tommy, dies. That really showed that he was human and vengeful. He wants it in such a way that he is willing to do anything to get it but he also isn’t stupid. He doesn’t want to get caught and go to jail. As he explained to Aimee in the woods, he isn’t to let them put him into another cage and nobody(including someone as close as Aimee once was) will get in his way. He’s a mad dog and he’s agitated.
DB-In the second season, we didn’t see that mad dog. Chayton let Siobhan live after the car accident. That was a different guy. A guy who could kill but still had the chain on him. When Tommy was killed, the chain got broke and it can’t be reattached.
GS-Chayton was an honorable warrior. No women and no kids. Loni asked me if I had done any homework on Chayton in the middle of Season 2 and 3, and I had. I kept a journal as Chayton for months prior to going back to set. The journal covered Chayton’s trip from New Orleans back to Banshee. As I wrote in this journal as Chayton, I realized he was taking fights along the way back. As he realized that in taking all these fights, there was always going to be someone standing in front of him willing to die. He can’t kill all the white men. Eventually, someone is going to kill him. Every warrior knows his death is coming and they seek a warrior’s death. Chayton realizes he can’t take the land back. He is outnumbered, so the objective has changed when he returns to Banshee. Taking whatever he can and that means taking it the same way this country was taken in the beginning and that is with the gun. That was the assault on Colonel Stowe’s transport. He was training his people to take back what they could and how that would change things immediately. That said, he still refuses to use a gun. He wants to remain pure and use a bow and arrow. Then, the tire comes off the road when his brother dies, who he was desperately trying to protect. Chayton knew that his days were numbered, so he had to leave it to someone. When Tommy died, everything crumbled.
DB-Chayton turned into a lone wolf so to speak.
GS-Absolutely. The only person Chayton trusted was Tommy, so all bets are off. He’s willing to do anything to stay free. (In episode 307, You Can’t Hide From The Dead), he pitchforked a guy for no reason. He then pitchforked the lady who helped him. Ultimately, Chayton is on a path of destruction and reached the point of no return. He’s going back to New Orleans to seek refuge.
DB-One of the things I’ve started to think about this season is Chayton underestimating Hood in thinking he is just a sheriff and not seeing a guy who is deadly as him.
GS-The thought of Chayton being snuck up on was a moot point between myself and Antony. We talk about these moments that Hood and Chayton are face to face. The banter and the communication that only a warrior or assassin would know. Chayton feels very close to Hood in a way, because he knows him. At the same time, he doesn’t really know him. There’s something very familiar about this guy to Chayton. It’s a question that is going on in his mind. He can’t put the pieces together. You’ll find in episode 8(All The Wisdom I Have Left) that a lot of this comes to light for Chayton. His eyes are opened in a different way. There are two realizations for Chayton. It’s not just a fight this week. It’s a fight and a conversation at the same time. Things are starting to unravel for him, so the “Aha” moment is coming for Chayton because he only believed Hood was a sheriff with really good training. That realization is made and then it is reformed later in the episode.
DB-There are a lot of similarities between Chayton and Hood. Both men are relentless in what they do and aren’t going back to prison and fearless in their life. They are both “Armies of One”, as stated in Season 2.
GS-Exactly. Let’s face it. A Banshee sheriff would NOT go to New Orleans to chase someone. He would not go across state lines or out of the county to chase someone. That realization is made by Chayton. He used to leave Banshee and go to New Orleans without hesitation and now this guy is coming on the reservation and coming down to New Orleans after him. There’s a point where the light comes on and then it comes on again. It gets real bright.
DB-Let’s go back to that Kinaho raid on the Cadi. What kind of shooting schedule was that? One night? Several nights?
GS-It was a long time. It was more than a week. If you look at the interior shots and the exterior shots, it was a long time. They weren’t shooting the interior and exterior shot at the same time. They did the interior first and then the exterior.
DB-My favorite part wasn’t even the action part of the episode. It was the quieter moments like the conversations between you and Antony. Two guys taunting each other. I’m a Dark Knight guy, so those scenes had the Batman/Joker faceoff written all over them. Those were as good as the bullets flying in.
GS-My favorite part was Hood and Proctor putting down their fists for a moment because they need each other. Proctor staying and helping Hood defend the Cadi until he could get himself together. Proctor has developed a softer side and is trying to be more than he currently is. However, his niece Rebecca is getting him into quite a conundrum. It’s going to come to a head real soon.
DB-The best thing about Banshee is the bad guys are not merely villains but wholly developed characters instead. You don’t see that on other television shows.
GS-All you have to do is look at the protagonist of the show. Hood is not a good guy. Who is a good guy and who is a bad guy? I call them pro-antagonists and anti-protagonists. Chayton is an anti-protagonist because he is a bad guy with a good moral compass (or at least he used to be). He had a plan and beliefs but now he is a mad dog and no one is going to side with a mad dog.
DB-In season 3, one of the true good guys, Brock, is switching over to the bad ways of Lucas.
GS-The last real pure Christian in the Banshee police department was (Emmett) Yawners (played by Demetrius Grosse). When Yawners went rogue, he was the last moral compass for Brock. Yawners was telling Brock that he doesn’t need to go see his ex-wife and that he isn’t married to her anymore. Emmett told Brock to leave her alone and manage it in a Christian way. When Emmett was gone, Brock’s moral compass wasn’t there and he goes back to his ex-wife. Brock wanted to go after Hondo because of Emmett’s death and now he wants to go after Chayton for Siobhan’s murder.
DB-One of the few regrets with the show is not seeing Chayton and Emmett square off.
GS-Chayton realistically would not have wanted to fight Emmett. He wanted to wake up the sleeping giant in Emmett. He felt like Emmett was someone that should have been on his side. You have to think about the charisma of someone like Chayton. Someone who will help you see the flaw in yourself and build you back up in his own righteousness. Chayton wanted to wake up Emmett and convince him to pull that badge off. Telling him they raped your people and kidnapped your ancestors. They chained you up for centuries. He wants to wake the giant up. Fighting Emmett was not in Chayton’s motivation. Chayton’s last words to Emmett were “These belong to you” in tossing him the handcuffs. He was still trying to wake him up.
DB-This Friday, it is fight club in New Orleans. What can you tell fans, other than hang on and brace yourselves?
GS-It is going to be concentrated. It’s going to be visceral and grimy. You won’t be disappointed.
DB-The fight scenes on Banshee are amazing. How much prep goes into a fight like the one on Friday.
GS-It’s all choreographed in a dojo. We make it fit on the set. For the most part, it’s all timed out in the number of moves and the time it takes for the fight to go. How much time is the footage going to take? Some fights are 80 to 90 different moves. You throw a punch and I duck, that’s one move. I throw a punch and it hits you in the stomach, that’s two moves. You kick me and I catch it, and that’s a third move. So on and so forth. We are talking about 75 moves. You redo 10-15 moves per piece. It’s very specific and the actors have to learn all the moves as well as the stunts. Any close up shot has to be the actor. A wide shot is a place where you can use a double. When the camera is right there, it’s hard to get the stunt guy in there. There’s a lot of work in these scenes.
DB-There’s a dedication on the set to Banshee that you don’t hear about elsewhere. You don’t see it in films and shows. They skim over a lot of stuff. The Banshee crew goes at it full tilt. Loni told me that Greg Yaitanes(Showrunner, Director) once said, “there is no such thing as a small stunt”.
GS-They don’t mess around. They want it a certain way and they know what they want. I used to have to this saying when I go on set, “Hey guys, we are shooting for perfection. If we fall short, we’ll have something great.” That is the mantra for Banshee fight scenes or even the opening. They want it all to be perfect.
DB-There’s an adrenaline that comes with this show when Friday night comes along. I almost have to move around the room or hit a punching bag to level myself out. Fans feel strongly about this show and it grows every week.
GS-No one is immune to being killed on Banshee and that plays into that. The Walking Dead set that precedence. Game of Thrones does that. The kid who played the king that everybody hated on Game of Thrones got a death threat. Man, I look forward to someone issuing me a death threat. I’ll call you out quick. We live in a world where the performer is not allowed to say something, like we should take the high road. Why should I be above anything? If you feel comfortable sounding off on me, why can’t I sound off on you?
When I interview an actor, director or creator, I want to give my readers a unique look into their persona. Tell them something different. What I found out about Geno confirmed what I suspected. He is the real deal. Geno Segers is more than meets the eye. When he first walked into the world of Banshee before that first collision with Hood in Season 2, Fanshees saw a simple tough bad guy. Since that entrance, Segers has carved a multi-dimensional character out of Chayton from that initial makeup. He took a bad guy and made him into someone real, vulnerable and suspect to change. On Friday, fans find out what Chayton is really made of. If they have been paying attention at all this season, they’ll know Segers is a lot more than just a presence and a voice. He’s a force to reckon with.
There are certain guys in Banshee who exude toughness and authority without a lot of dialogue. Meet Tom Pelphrey, the New Jersey born actor who inhabits the tortured soul that is Kurt Bunker on the Cinemax series. As season 4 preps for launch, I revisit my chat with Pelphrey from after Season 3 in March.
Bunker comes from a dark past that involves Nazi White Supremacy and enough guilt to fill a river with. He enlisted at the Cadi to become a deputy and has proved himself quite useful. Pelphrey put on a performance in the Season 3 finale Friday night that will live on for months. A Hall of Fame no holds barred achievement for any actor may have been just the tip of the iceberg for Bunker on Banshee. I reached out to Pelphrey to talk about those final scenes of the season and how he channels the rage inside the character.
Dan Buffa-The finale featured loads of action and resolution, but the most soulful poignant story(stoked with some raw firepower) is Bunker’s past colliding with his present. How has it been pulling the layers off this classic tough guy character?
Tom Pelphrey-Well it’s the kind of role that any actor would be excited about. What makes it really great is that the writers have allowed for the layers to be exposed and peeled away over time; perhaps more importantly we learn more about Bunker in situations where learning more about Bunker arises naturally from the given circumstances in the storytelling. For example in Episode 5… Bunker tells Alison about his past and what led him down the road he traveled. All hell has broken loose, the stakes are very high, and quite naturally Alison is afraid and unsettled… and she’s in the basement with a dude who’s covered in swastikas and carrying an automatic weapon!! And so telling her about my past comes from the desire to help her understand so that I can calm her down and make her realize she is safe with me… otherwise you just have an expositional monologue. The writers were really smart. It’s been very exciting for me to explore the character. Someone who would cover their body with such hateful images has a lot of pain, anger, and confusion… as we see in episode 10 there is so much going on that Bunker himself can barely articulate it. A lot of shame, regret, rage, and self hatred… and yet he’s trying to do the right thing, turn his life around and seek redemption. It’s all very compelling stuff and the kind of material that I live for.
DB–I feel like Bunker’s a boiling pot of water that finally popped off these final two episodes. A man holding a lot of rage inside and eventually, those things boil over in Banshee. Is that an accurate description?
TB-Totally accurate. Again, someone who would go SO FAR as to cover themselves in tattoos of swastikas and hateful images is operating from a place of a lot of pain. Even when that person chooses to turn their life around and make different choices, that pain doesn’t just go away. The question becomes can Bunker learn how to work through it and channel it in a positive way? Can he find redemption and healing for himself?
DB-Bunker’s past provided him with quite a few tattoos. Did you and Geno challenge each other for time in a makeup chair?
TP-Hahaha!!! I think we were pretty even. A lot of Geno’s tattoos are much larger pieces which means you have to be very careful when you place them… I have more tattoos but they are smaller and not connected so you end up with 6 of one and a half dozen of the other.
DB-In my opinion, your scene with Servitto towards the end of the finale was the best of the episode, the season and quite possibly the series. So powerful and emotionally bare. Actors have to channel that rage somewhere. Where did you go to for that scene and how long did it take to prepare? All of that can’t be on the page. Was it method or just getting into a role?
TP-Well I’m not sure that I know exactly where I went for that; and I’m not sure that I would tell you if I did know. : ) I’m never sure what people mean when they say ‘method’… it’s used by so many different people in so many different ways that to me it has become an ambiguous dirty word! haha. For me what’s important is being able to identify what the character is going through and understand it intellectually. Once I have that I try and break it down to it’s most fundamental essence, and understand that for myself emotionally. If you lay the foundation correctly you then sit back and let your imagination take over. The emotional access gets easier from years of training and performing and learning. To me it’s a muscle that gets stronger over time with repetition; so it’s much easier to go there now then it was ten years ago. All of that aside; I show up on the day and say “Fuck it” and work off of my partner to the best of my ability. And as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I have a plethora of beautiful talented partners who would make any actor look better! Servitto is a PRO and made that scene so easy for me.
DB-Speaking of Servitto, this cast is a group of true pros. How has it been mixing it up with Antony and company?
TP-We must be simpatico because I’m answering and referencing some of your next questions before I even read them! The cast has been phenomenal to me. Truly wonderful and open and very welcoming and supporting. It makes it SO MUCH EASIER for me to do my best work when I feel like I’m in a safe and supportive environment. I always think of a cast like a sports team… you can have some talented individuals but you really kick the shit out of a show when you have a team that works well together and supports each other. Obviously the captain of this team (especially for my storyline) is Antony. That is a hard working actor who really cares about the quality of the show and believes in what he does. He’s also tough as hell because physically they put him through the ringer! And to top it off he’s super fucking talented and very intelligent. I’m glad he’s our lead. Servitto is all of those things as well… and one of the most generous partners that you’re ever gonna work with. He never lets the ball drop. Most of my time has been spent with those guys on set… but as I’m sure you can tell we have an entire cast of hard-working, super talented, creative actors who are total fucking gamers. Everyone is in it together. I really am very grateful to join them.
DB-Moving forward, Bunker’s duel with the brotherhood is far from over, with the last image of Bunker showing his brother literally burning the swastika off your chest. It has to be exciting knowing the Cadi won’t be quieting down anytime soon.
TP-I can’t wait to start reading scripts for Season 4. They have set things up so well… high stakes and infinite possibilities! Talk about a cliffhanger huh?
DB-With Starr potentially moving to full time criminal, the first thought in my head was a Hood-Bunker clash. Now, we all know that fight starts out with Bunker saying, “With all due respect sir….punch…slam!! That has become the signature nice tough guy line for you.
TP-Hahaha!! Now that would be a brawl. I have to say though I think it would take ALOT for Bunker to ever go after Hood. He gave the guy a chance when no one else would. He didn’t dismiss Bunker and he gave him a chance to prove himself and earn his trust. I think for someone like Bunker that goes a long way.
DB-With production in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for season 4, have you been officially asked back or is that still pending or under wraps?
TP-I’m not sure if that’s under wraps or not… but yes I have been asked back and I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
DB-What is your personal favorite moment from Season 3?
TP-In episode 4 I thought the scene between Hood and Deva when he says he’s leaving was really well done. That could’ve been a throw away or a tough guy moment but Ant loaded it and it was very touching. In that same episode the scene with Carrie and Hood was beautiful too. I loved when Brock shot Emily’s tires out. Just so perfect to me I couldn’t stop laughing. It was so crazy and yet made absolute sense. Perfect Banshee. I loved when the fat guy gets popped like a grape by the truck in Episode 3. In the first episode Gordon asking Hood to leave him Deva, leave him his daughter? So heartbreaking. It was just so honest and pathetic. Every scene with Sugar and Job. I also LOVED the scene with Proctor, Burton, and Rebecca in the meat locker when she shoots the dude in the knee and then they just blast the hell out of them. Loved the way Lili played that. Cheered out loud when Carrie beats homeboy’s ass in the bathroom of the bar!! I dunno I really could go on… I would be a fan of the show even if I wasn’t on it. *I was reading this over and I remember something else that really struck me. Epidode 3: Aside from the fact that the Burton Nola fight was EPIC, there was a quick flashback to Chayton coming to get Nola in whatever shady den she was nodding out in. I think she mumbles to him “I don’t want to die”, and he replies, “You’re already dead. Now I want to show you how to live.”—or something to that effect. I’m getting chills just writing it out. That KILLED me. So beautiful and so fucking sad. Which also brings me to say that before he killed Siobhan, half of me was rooting for Chayton!! And I think that speaks to Geno’s performance. Ok I’ll stop now.
DB-Tom, you never have to stop my sir. Keep talking. Thanks for answering the questions. Take your time sir. I’ll probably publish this weekend. I hope to stay in touch throughout the year and reconnect for a chat for Season 4. Being a 1982 soldier, I must tip my cap. Thanks again for taking the time.
TP-Thanks so much Dan! Great questions. Looking forward to more!! 1982. : )
That last part was a nod to the fact that Tom and I are both 1982 kids. I won’t put it on my resume but I share a year with Badass Bunker. Pelphrey is the latest entry to Banshee and brings the prerequisite along with him. Emotional baggage and inner torment. A certain breed of actor is required to play that. Pelphrey more than fits the description. Throughout Season 3, fanshees got a taste and in the final two episodes, they got it all. When Season 4 returns, I’ll be looking for Pelphrey to chat more Bunker.
Back in the day before Cinemax’s Banshee wasn’t white hot gold and only a glimmer in a Manshee’s eye, I had the chance to speak with its queen, Ivana Milicevic. As I go back through the seasons, I am going to revisit and repost the interviews. This chat with Milicevic was done after Season 2. Check it out and don’t blush too much.
There’s badass females in the land of make believe, and then there is Ivana Milicevic. She is one of the many faces of Banshee, and to me an integral part of the muscular action and story growth on the show. She’s a force to reckon with and that idea doesn’t fade once you talk to her over the phone. She’s strong, proud of her work and ready for more. If Antony Starr is the rock behind the show, Ivana is the heart attached to it. After years of comedies and supporting roles in film, Milicevic broke through with the wildly popular Cinemax series. Last week, I had a chance to talk to her about the success behind the show, what lies ahead and the challenges of making viewers see the story beyond the visual pleasure.
Buffa-Was it hard losing three series regulars in the Season 2 finale?
Ivana-We were really bummed about that. We won’t like to lose any of ours. I literally cried when I watched the finale. The writer’s always said that no one is going to be happy. We have a lot of characters on our show. It’s hard to service them all as deeply we would like. We got to see more of Brock, Rebecca, and Siobhan this season. People don’t realize the amount of time actors put into this process. Everything has an intention behind it. We have a million ideas on how a season will go but there isn’t enough time to shoot it.
Now that the Rabbit is gone, what is Carrie’s biggest issue in Season 3?
I don’t know how I am going to play it because I haven’t ready that much yet. I do know that if you have been running for so long and looking over your shoulder, I am not sure if that just goes away. It could be very different depending on what they write for me, but I wouldn’t say Carrie is all of a sudden calm. If it isn’t post-traumatic stress disorder, then where is the post-traumatic stress? If you have lived in fear for so long, I am not sure you shed it that quickly. At the end of season 2, there’s no point in hiding it anymore.
Greg and Jonathan hand you a laptop and tell you to write first three pages of Season 3. What is Carrie doing?
She’s shopping with Deva and having some kind of a talk with her. Getting to know each other for who they really are and Deva is discovering things about her mother that both disgust and intrigue her. Yet, she still loves her and realizes how interested she is in the similarities she shares with her mother.
My favorite episode of Season 2 was The Truth About Unicorns because it represented a departure from the usual frenzy of the show.
Fans were split down the middle on that one. It was definitely a change of pace. It gave the fans the moment they wanted to see with these two characters. And it was so sad when they pulled up to the house. I think I did one take where Carrie gets out of the truck and just bursts into tears. The idea that he had done this and it happened was so heartbreaking. However, the truth about unicorns is that they don’t exist so it was very sad. That episode also lifted us critically and brought the show respect.
What is your take on Carrie and her decision making process?
Carrie will do whatever she has to do in that moment to protect her kid. She doesn’t worry about herself. Every choice she makes is a lose-lose. Carrie is not a calculating person overall, but she is not made to be untrusted. She is making those calls on the fly in order to save her family.
You work with Antony[Starr] a ton on the show. What can you tell us about him as an actor?
I remember the first time I saw Antony. It was during the first episode we shot, which was Episode 4 of Season 1. I watched the scene and went up to him after and said, “You are TMT. You are dynamite.” It’s really Antony’s choice. He chooses to play the character all vulnerable. He wanted the character to have more depth. The show really rests on his shoulders and he does such a good job for us. I really love acting with him.”
There are a lot of nude scenes on the shows. How do you get comfortable as an actor in those sequences?
I feel like going to the doctor is worst. We are all on the same boat. We work together on it. Does it cross over to developing actually feelings for each other? No. We get comfortable. We giggle through it and do the job. I’m European, so I don’t have any hang-ups on nudity but every character is well rounded on Banshee and they are all fearless. We put the same amount of care we would into a monologue into the sex scenes. The positions we get into and the focus on our face. There is a thing going on in our heads about what is happening and why it is happening. It’s not just throwing it against the wall. If I was going to do the sex scenes, it had to be natural. They aren’t meant to turn you on. They weren’t looking for girls with giant boobs. They weren’t designed to turn you on. Look at Rebecca’s sex scenes with Jason Hood. There is a neurosis and psychological drama that is going on with her that is making her do that. It’s not designed to be sexy. It’s dramatic and traumatic.
While there is a lot of it, I feel like every fight scene has a purpose on the show as well.
A lot goes into the fight scenes as far as what is going on and why this is happening. In episode 2 of Season 2, Carrie snaps and she lost control. She saw red. She could have killed that girl. The fight with Olek was much more emotional. The Olek fight is him telling her she doesn’t deserve to have a family. She has to use her last dying breath to stop him from hurting her family. The prison scene was not her acting on her motherly instinct. She was trying to be cool and then she snapped and went crazy.
Okay, time for a stupid question. Let’s say you sit down in a chair in the middle of these two actors. Who wins between Rus Blackwell and Antony in real life?
It depends on the day. Rus has some rage in him. Antony does too but you can’t look at what you’ve seen on the screen. You get Rus on a good day and it might be a draw. They are both very passionate men.
Rus, who plays Gordon, killed it in Season 2, right? He was underrated this season.
He’s such a good actor. He’s my rock on the show. That’s the kind of thing that would happen with a character like Gordon where it spirals out of control. Of course this being Banshee, we had to add alcohol, drugs and strippers. Everybody has darkness on this show and Rus was so good this season. Look at Emmett in Episode 7. His monologue and his scenes. He absolutely killed it.
When I first started talking to you on twitter, you mentioned how it was the indie show of television?
It’s our little movie. Greg said that we are basically making a one hour movie every week. We don’t waste time. Some episodes this year were less than an hour and that was just the creators tightening things up. They don’t want it to be an hour long if it isn’t super tight.
The social media connection with Banshee is enormous and unprecedented.
We are so lucky to have fans like you. I talk about it all the time. A genre show like this wouldn’t survive without passionate fans. The people who watch it a lot of times really get the nuances. There are deeper layers to it. Some watch the show subconsciously and don’t get all the little things.”
For the cast and crew, it was just a part of the story though, right?
We were just trying to tell the story. Sometimes people love the show and sometimes they hate it. It’s so easy to write us off as simply action and sex. The show is not for everyone. We aren’t a procedural or a documentary. It’s a pulpy noir comic book. It’s fun. The best thing about our show is that its wish fulfillment. Look at what Emmett did this season. It’s what you wish you would do with a group of Neo Nazi’s.
Banshee has transformed you into this sexually charged female badass. What has that been like?
I used to the comedy girl. Now I’ve done nothing but action for three years. There are times these days where I miss comedy. I bruise a lot but I like the physicality of our show. I wouldn’t have gone so far sexually with the scenes if I didn’t get the action as well. Meaning if I didn’t get to be such a badass and also go to these emotional depths, I wouldn’t have done it. All of it goes hand in hand.
Could you defend yourself on a street?
We learned some fight skills as well. First of all, I am 5 foot 9 and a half so if anybody ever tried anything, one look back from me would take care of that. I could definitely fight for someone I love and hurt them. I felt that before I had any fight training. I mean, I couldn’t fight Ronda Rousey or anything. I couldn’t fight a real fighter. I could defend myself if need be. The way I hold myself is enough. If someone is looking to hurt a woman, they aren’t looking for me. I’m a big sister and I have little brothers, so I already have been there before. Being ferocious probably got me this job but in real life I am pretty calm, cool and collected.
You and the cast seem like a family just from watching the show. Is that true in real life?
Trieste, Lili, Odette, Ryann and I are like sisters. We all want each other to be as beautiful as we can be all the time. We bring that to the show. As a complete cast, we are a family, especially when we are away on location. It’s perfect for the show that we are all together in Charlotte because of the things we have to do. I love everybody on the show. Hoon Lee, Matty Rauch and the rest of the gang. Everybody on our show is really great. We got hired based on who was right for the role and not this name thing or some other agenda. People got to be hired for their talent which relates to our show.
That makes sense because there is a ton of passion on this show and it shows.
You can’t be a makeup artists on the show without having the same amount of passion as the cast. The crew is amazing. During the first season we were doing everything handheld. When we were running, they were running with us with cameras on their backs. I don’t know of another show that is this tiring. I tweeted a picture from the set of me sleeping in between takes. We don’t have the time to do many takes. We have a couple cameras. There’s no sitting around on this show. I spend no time in my trailer. I have a trailer but I don’t see it that much.
Are Lucas and Carrie done now after Season 2 saw Carrie return to her family?
To me, they were always done romantically as far as, they aren’t going to date. They are not going to all of a sudden be together. I will say yes they are done but they still know each other better than anyone else. They have a daughter together. Carrie has never stopped loving him. I think that is too intense due to the bond they have for them to simply go apart. The “will or won’t they” has to be over but you never know with this show. It depends on how it’s played. They write stuff and we fill the rest in. Sure, they may be done, but it’s not like all of that never happened.
In the past week I’ve had the honor of talking to three different members of the Banshee cast and they have all ranged from amazing to spectacular. It’s invigorating to a guy like me, part writer/part hardcore fan of the show, to behold and become a part of promoting. I couldn’t recommend the show any stronger than I could recommend a dose of fresh air from the nearby window. It’s cool, fresh, fun, sexy, badass and most of all, it’s worth your time and then some. Ivana Milicevic is a huge reason the show works. In the beginning, she told me to write about this show. She called it “the indie of TV” and I dug both my feet in and ran with it. She is a wonderful woman who is confident about her craft. Spread this interview around. Talk about the show. Digest the 20 episodes. Become a part of something truly special and that’s Cinemax’s Banshee.