Liev Schreiber excited to watch his own crime drama series Ray Donovan

In the new fourth season, Ray Donovan (played by Liev Schreiber, above) tries to reconnect with his ex-convict father, Mickey (Jon Voight).
In the new fourth season, Ray Donovan (played by Liev Schreiber, above) tries to reconnect with his ex-convict father, Mickey (Jon Voight).PHOTO: FX
In the new fourth season, Ray Donovan (played by Liev Schreiber) tries to reconnect with his ex-convict father, Mickey (Jon Voight, above).
In the new fourth season, Ray Donovan (played by Liev Schreiber) tries to reconnect with his ex-convict father, Mickey (Jon Voight, above).PHOTO: FX

Crime drama Ray Donovan deals with what it means to be a man in the 21st century - from issues of sexuality to a father's role - says lead actor Liev Schreiber

When Liev Schreiber watches himself on screen, the actor is not thinking about his performance. He is more concerned about his hairline.

"Sometimes, I notice my big nose or that my bald spot is growing," he says.

But the four-time Golden Globe nominee says he watches his crime drama Ray Donovan just as any fan would.

"Most of the time, I'm really excited because I have such an awful memory. I don't remember it and it's kind of fun for me to see the work," he says.

Season 4 of the show debuts tonighton FX (StarHub TV Channel 507).

In the series, Schreiber, who spoke to The Straits Times and other press at a conference call earlier this month, plays Donovan, a "fixer", a man who does the dirty work for a powerful Los Angeles law firm representing many of Tinseltown's richest and most famous personalities.

While Donovan is adept at erasing his clients' mistakes, problems at home, including those caused by his emotionally damaged brothers and his ex-convict father, Mickey (played by Jon Voight), are much harder for him to deal with.

In the new season, fans of the show will notice that Ray, a character famed for a stony-faced demeanour, will open up more.

Ray has trouble expressing his emotions, "which is part of surviving abuse".

Schreiber says: "But this season, Ray is going to try to find the lighter side of himself. He will try to reconnect with his father. I don't know how successful he'll be but, you know, he's going to try."

The character of Donovan fascinates people, he says, because there is inside him "the beautiful and the ugly".

The actor says: "Scandal in the world of fixers isn't particularly new to entertainment. We've been obsessed with it for centuries."

But Schreiber, 48, who was part of the ensemble in the film, Spotlight (2015), the Best Picture winner at this year's Oscars, says the series also goes deep into "what it is to be a man in the 21st century".

Donovan has to deal with the residue of childhood sexual abuse in his family.

At the same time, the man who is at the beck and call of Hollywood's decadent class has to be present for his wife Abby (Paula Malcomson), teen daughter Bridget (Kerris Dorsey) and son Conor (Devon Bagby).

Men today have to navigate "increasingly haunting questions of sexuality and what it is to be a father", adds Schreiber.

Donovan's job is to exert control after situations go out of hand, so he is something of a kindred spirit to other men with "a bit of an alpha issue", such as Tony Soprano, the mob boss from the acclaimed HBO series The Sopranos (1999 - 2007).

"I could see Ray getting along with Tony Soprano. They come from similar worlds. But then again, I could see it being a bloodbath," says the actor, who has ventured behind the camera, directing and writing the screenplay for the film Everything Is Illuminated (2005), a drama based on the book by Jonathan Safran Foer, and also helming two Ray Donovan episodes.

He says he would like to direct more films but for his family situation.

"I'm at that stage in the relationship to my children where I don't want to leave that much, and part of the logic behind taking this job on Ray Donovan was that I would ground us so that we could be a family and be together," he says of his two sons, aged nine and eight, with his partner, British actress Naomi Watts.

"Movie work, and particularly directing, involves so much travelling."

•Season 4 of Ray Donovan debuts on FX (StarHub TV Channel 507) tonight at 11pm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2016, with the headline 'Fixer takes control at home'. Print Edition | Subscribe