The Cinemax drama series Banshee is currently in its second season, as Lucas Hood (Antony Starr), an ex-con and master thief who has assumed the identity of the town sheriff, balances his own criminal activities with solving crimes in a town with more bad elements than any one person can keep track of. It’s intense, violent and bad-ass, but it’s also one of the most fun roller-coaster rides on television. The show also stars Ivana Milicevic, Ulrich Thomsen, Frankie Faison, Hoon Lee, Rus Blackwell, Matt Servitto, Demetrius Grosse, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Lili Simmons, Antony Ruivivar and Odette Annable.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, actor Antony Starr talked about how tough this show is to shoot, how he feels Season 2 compares to Season 1, picking the right times to give backstory on his character to the viewers, where Lucas and Carrie are at now, what sort of relationship he would like to have with Deva, what draws him to Siobhan, and how things might play out with Kai Proctor. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
ANTONY STARR: It was a little bit of both. It’s the toughest show to shoot that I’ve been involved with. So, there was a little bit of knowing what was coming. Forewarned is forearmed. That said, as we get towards the end, it still kicked my ass. I’ve got no illusions about it, going back into Season 3. It is what it is. It’s an intense show, from start to finish. It’s intense to watch, and it’s intense to make. You go in knowing what’s coming, but ultimately, it’s full of surprises.
In every fight scene this season, Lucas Hood gets his head beat in. How many times get he take blows to the head without getting some serious brain damage?
STARR: Any show that has a character stealing the identity of a town sheriff is not real, so we’re already in the land of make-believe. So, let’s go with the head trauma, on that count, as well. If you technically look at how quick Lucas heals, he must have a special elixir of health where he goes and plugs himself into a wall socket and recharges. His restorative abilities are phenomenal. He takes a head beating, an ass beating, and every kind of beating that you can imagine. There is a pulp element to the show. Sex and violence is a part of it. Also, there is a comic book element, as well. It’s definitely not real. It’s pure entertainment. You’ve gotta just leave it at that.
How do you feel Season 2 compared to Season 1?
STARR: Season 1 was all about himself and getting what was his, and Season 2 is all about other people. Having realized that he’s a father and having realized that Rabbit is still out there, he really needs to protect those that he loves from the threats that present themselves. At the start of Season 2, Agent Racine came in and was the next level of threat. As much as Season 2 opened by cleaning up Season 1, it opened the door to the next army of problems that present themselves. It was great. I didn’t know how we were going to clear up Season 1. I was baffled at how we were going to do that. There was so much more exposed than I realized there was going to be, initially. I think they came up with a really good solution to a lot of the problems I saw, in terms of how they get out of the hole that they dug for themselves.
STARR: When you deal with any family, no matter how fucked up it is, shows about families are pretty great, in terms of how much story there is. Families are the deepest, most screwed up relationships that we have. The longest relationship in the show is Carrie and Rabbit. The more we can drag that out and keep that in play, the better. And then, the second longest relationship is Lucas and Rabbit, and that interconnection with Carrie. That’s gold, as far as how much you can extract from that and how far you can go with it. You have to make sure you can use that voice to its full before moving on. It can’t go forever, but you do what to make sure you get every ounce of goodness out of every character.
It’s interesting how little we’ve learned about who Lucas Hood was before we meet him in Banshee. Have you been rooting for the audience to learn more about him?
STARR: It’s a delicate balance. You want to know a little more, but you don’t want to know too much. As soon as you starting knowing too much about someone, you get bored. We get bored of what we know. It’s about keeping everybody on the hook, but also not revealing too much. We get to know the character through the actions that he takes in the present, and then we get to know why he is the way that he is through looking at the past. It’s about getting a mix of that. You don’t need the past to like the character in the present, or to feel like you want to stick with the character in the present. But in terms of adding depth, richness and fullness to the show, overall, and to the relationship that the audience develops with the lead, then going back and finding out where he comes from is gold. It’s about picking and choosing what and when things come out.
Is it fun to actually see Lucas Hood trying to solve some crimes?
STARR: It’s good. The threats come from inside and outside. There’s always the threat of his own actions. Is he doing the right thing? Are his actions going to lead to other people’s demise? And then, there are the acts of others. Proctor wants to take him down. There’s Chayton. And there are all these people who, without him doing anything, want to take him down. And then, you could argue that it’s all because of what he’s done in his past. It’s very tangled and mixed up.
STARR: One of the themes of the show is your past coming back to haunt you. In order to move forward in the present, you’ve gotta deal with your past. But it’s not as cut and dry with Carrie, especially now that’s he got a daughter. Those two are connected. It would be great, if it were just her. He could just walk and say, “It’s only her that’s affected, and that’s it.” But knowing that he has a daughter, there’s more to consider. Inevitably, these two will always have this push-pull relationship where they’re drawn together, but can never be together. When that door is closed and another door opens, romantically, where does that land everyone and what does that mean for everyone?
Does he want a relationship as Deva’s father, or would he rather find out if he can even be a father first?
STARR: It’s one of those mixed things where you know it’s potentially damaging for the person, but you still want it because ultimately it is the truth. Let’s be honest, Lucas is not 100% about everyone else. He wants what he wants for himself, and rightly so. He’s given a lot to protect other people already, by going to prison. His whole life has been screwed and turned upside down. So, justifiably, he wants to be a part of the life that he never had, or the life that was taken from him, and Deva is a massive part of that.
How do you think Lucas feels about the self-destructive path that Deva is on?
STARR: He’s no angel himself. He would have grown up pretty rough. I think the good thing about Lucas is that he’s not someone who has any real instinct, parentally. So, all he can really do is relate on the same level, which ironically probably makes him a really good parent. A lot of the time, parents’ expectations get in the way of the relationship and the openness in the relationship.
What do you think it is that draws Lucas to Siobhan?
STARR: I think they’re both damaged goods, and I think they both see each other as a safe harbor. It’s a respite from a pretty horrible world that they live in. Banshee is not exactly nice. Their environments both have rough backgrounds, and they both have baggage. Each offers the other one some respite from that. I think that’s a big part of that. Their dynamic is a little bit twisted. We always pick hard options when it comes to relationships. Very few people actually go for the right one, immediately, and get it right. She couldn’t get it more wrong, in terms of making the worst possible choice. All of the characters are pretty damaged people and they’re all, in varying degrees, playing out the damage.
STARR: Having them at each other’s throats is really too much fun for them to be buddies. It’s a really interesting dynamic between the two. I love doing those scenes ‘cause Ulrich [Thomsen] is so good and he’s so much fun to work with. He’s such an odd little man. It’s great. I love him. I think he’s awesome, and we have a lot of fun doing it.
Banshee airs on Friday nights on Cinemax.