Veteran actor Jon Voight on track to win Emmy to add to Oscar and Golden Globe awards

In Ray Donovan, Jon Voight plays a charming ex-convict who turns his family’s lives upside down. -- PHOTO: FOX MOVIES PREMIUM
In Ray Donovan, Jon Voight plays a charming ex-convict who turns his family’s lives upside down. -- PHOTO: FOX MOVIES PREMIUM

Jon Voight is thankful for his role in the drama Ray Donovan and is tipped to win an Emmy for it

Jon Voight is a hot favourite to take the Outstanding Supporting Actor honour at the Emmys later this month for the crime drama Ray Donovan.

If he does, the actor will join an exclusive group of just two dozen or so performers who can put their Emmy on a shelf next to an Oscar and a Golden Globe.

Even more remarkably, the actor best known for Midnight Cowboy (1969) will have done so at the age of 75, after decades of being written off as being past his prime and 35 years after picking up the Best Actor Oscar for Coming Home (1978), where he played a paraplegic Vietnam veteran.

Speaking to reporters about the new second season of Ray Donovan, which is airing in Singapore, he says he feels extraordinarily lucky to have enjoyed such recognition and longevity as a performer.

"Let me just say that I feel very blessed and very fortunate to have had so many wonderful experiences as an actor," he says at a recent press conference in Beverly Hills.

"And I'm really enjoying this family that's making Ray Donovan, these wonderful artists," he says, looking over at co-stars Liev Schreiber and Paula Malcomson. "So I'm as happy as an actor can be."

Schreiber plays the titular Ray, a Hollywood "fixer" who cleans up messes made by the rich and famous in Los Angeles - the guy you want on speed dial when you wake up next to a dead one-night stand.

He is less on top of things when it comes to his own problems, though, including the sudden return of his delinquent dad Mickey (Voight), a charming but toxic ex-convict who starts to turn the family's lives upside down.

Asked if Mickey is a sociopath, a destructive force of nature or merely a man who thinks he is doing the right thing, Voight replies that "he's a little of all those things".

"That's what we like about him - that he's dangerous, but also human and loves his family," says the actor, who has had a troubled relationship with his own brood, including actress-daughter Angelina Jolie, with whom he famously feuded for a decade until reconciling in 2011, a few years after Jolie's mother, his second wife Marcheline Bertrand, died of cancer.

Voight's arresting portrayal of Mickey, in all his politically incorrect glory, has earned him stellar reviews and, earlier this year, the Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe - the actor's fourth.

"It's almost like I've earned this role after years of struggling… and experimenting and succeeding. And finding different ways to express certain kinds of things in my work."

He sees parallels between this project and Runaway Train, the 1985 film that cast him as a fugitive bank robber, which he admits was a part that at first "didn't seem appropriate" for him.

But accepting it led to a Golden Globe win and an Oscar nomination, which "opened up a lot of different areas for me as a character actor and kept me going".

"Actors are always looking for a good job, something that they can dig into and I had those opportunities early with great people then," he adds, singling out director John Schlesinger and actor Dustin Hoffman, who worked with him on Midnight Cowboy, the groundbreaking drama that became the only X-rated film to win a Best Picture Oscar, with Voight's turn as a male prostitute putting him on the map as an up-and-coming star.

"In order to do good work, you have to work with a great team of people. I'm getting attention for this role in Ray Donovan but I'm also humbled by it because there's so much good work out there. And in my own team of people, I'm in awe.

"This is one of those things that doesn't happen very often, so you have to appreciate the times when they come," he says, "and I do appreciate it, especially at this stage of my life."

stlife@sph.com.sg

Ray Donovan Season 2 airs on Fox Movies Premium (StarHub TV Channel 622 and SingTel mio TV Channel 414) on Tuesdays at 10pm.

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