The Cinemax series Banshee is back for its eight-episode fourth and final season, and ex-con and master thief Lucas Hood (Antony Starr) has become immersed in a new crisis, involving a vicious serial murderer. After having cut himself off from everyone and everything for two years, Hood returns to find a very different Banshee than he left, and the friends he turned his back on may not be so welcoming about having him back.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Antony Starr talked about being given an outline with the loose structure of the final season, how he feels about the journey his character took, why Lucas Hood’s real name isn’t really that important, why he thinks Season 4 is the best that they’ve done, what Lucas Hood’s ideal life might look like, how Lucas feels about the changes in Banshee, and whether viewers will feel a sense of closure by the end of the series. He also talked about his new CBS series American Gothic, what drew him to the show, and the character that he’ll be playing. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: Knowing that this would be the last season of the show, did they tell you what your character’s journey was going to be, at the start of the season, or did you still have to learn how things would play out, as you got each script?
ANTONY STARR: They gave us an outline, but the scripts were all still being written. They had the loose structure. They still had to make decisions how the show was going to end, but they definitely had a pretty clear course for most of the season. It was just about tying up the end and making a decision about that. So, we knew pretty early on what was going on. Jonathan [Tropper] asked me how I felt about it, and I totally agreed with his sentiment that he just didn’t want the show to go on one season too many and be remembered with a slightly sour taste. It was great, the way that it worked out. It’s bittersweet. It’s sad to see it go, but like anything that you really like, too much of a good thing becomes bad. You know it’s the right time, but it still sucks.
How do you personally feel about the journey that your character took in this last season and where he ultimately ended up?
STARR: From my point of view, I told them that, at some point, this guy had to collide with himself, in a big way, and they took that to heart. For me, there was a sense of inevitability for where Lucas would end up. All of those huge, traumatic events that happened, from Season 1 through 3, but particularly in Season 3, had to have consequences. It wasn’t just about an eye for an eye, a truth for a truth, and finding revenge. It’s about who the man is and where he goes from here and what he has to offer the world, if anything. For me, the inevitable launch pad for Season 4 was finding Lucas in the position that he’s in, and then crawling back from there and figuring out where he fits in the world. I always wanted to go as dark and as deep as we could, and I feel like Season 4 was a very introspective season for Lucas, which I loved.
Was there anything you wanted to learn about the character that you never really got a chance to learn?
STARR: No. For the world that we’ve created and the universe of the show, it’s got to be in tune with the style of the show and what the show is about, and I think we’ve explored the character pretty well. I feel pretty good about the way Season 4 wraps him up and wraps the show up. Hopefully, the fans will agree.
Greg Yaitanes said that Lucas Hood’s real name likely wouldn’t be revealed until the last scene of the series finale. And Jonathan Tropper said that he feels like that detail doesn’t even matter anymore. Do you feel like what his real name is, is the least significant thing about the character, at this point?
STARR: Yeah, I would probably line myself up with Jonathan there. I don’t think it matters too much. I don’t know if you saw Mr. Big’s reveal on Sex and the City, but his name was John, which was supremely disappointing. Obviously, we’re not Sex and the City. We’re in this heightened reality where you don’t need to answer all the questions. The identity of Lucas is really unknown to him. The labeling of a name, to me, is slightly irrelevant. It’s really about what’s going on internally for the character. I know all the fans want to know his name, but it’s a little bit of a nod to the old Western idea of the no-name stranger. A little bit of the mystery goes, if you give the name up. That’s not to say that we don’t give it. I’m going to leave that a mystery, at the moment.
There have been times when this show has been heavier on the violence, there have been times when this show has been heavier on the sex, and there have been plenty of quieter moments that show why these people have bonded together. When do you think this show is at its best?
STARR: I’ve gotta be honest, we’ve gone up and down with different ideas and different directions, as the show found its feet. Season 1 was definitely the show finding its ideas. Season 2 found it and played to our strengths. Season 3 was an extension of that. I actually think we found the balance in Season 4. There was a little bit of a shift around. We had a huge move from Charlotte, NC to Pittsburgh, PA, and I think that inspired a shift in the tone of the show and the dynamics, creatively. There was an adjustment made, on all levels, to the benefit of the show. It’s always been a show where you turn the ignition on in Episode 1 of a season, and then put your foot on the floor and don’t stop until you get to Episode 10. Even the format of the show and having eight episodes, everything changed. It’s not as foot to the floor. We have moments where we take the foot off the pedal a little bit, get more introspective and adjust the pacing a little more, and I think that is a huge strength of Season 4. It’s just my humble opinion, but I actually think Season 4 is the best season we’ve done.
After everything this guy has been through, what do you think his ideal life really looks like? Does he even know what he ultimately wants, at this point?
STARR: No, I don’t think the character knows. For Lucas, I think you’ve touched on the question of the season, if not the show, overall. It’s about, who am I and where do I go from here? In Season 3, there were a lot of traumatic events, which have consequences. Season 4 is very much an internal and introspective season. The real question is, how do I make life work, or do I just abandon it all? I don’t think there’s any white picket fence with a dog and a wife and two kids waiting at the end of Lucas Hood’s journey. He’s not that kind of guy. I’ve always liked the idea of him being able to just accept who he is instead of trying to be what he believes he was going to be, at one point. I’ve always liked the idea of self-acceptance being a part of it, and we deal with that. He’s a conflicted guy. He’s never going to be complete. He’s always going to be a work in progress, as we all are, but he’s probably that more than most.
He’s not somebody who’s had an over-abundance of friends, so how do his friends feel about the fact that he dropped off the grid and disappeared from all of their lives?
STARR: Not good, I think would be a fair answer. It feels like an honest response to me, for someone who’s been what he’s been through to just mentally check out. Obviously, it’s a heightened reality, so you’re never going to have anyone going through the kind of events that he’s been through, but everyone has a breaking point and I think he found his. It’s interesting to see how all of the characters deal with that because everyone has been through a lot and they all scattered to the wind. It’s like getting the band back together, but everyone is slightly warped when they get back together. It was really interesting, through Season 4, to play with those relationships and test them.
It was great to see Fat Au (Eddie Cooper) back on the show. How was it to have him back in the mix?
STARR: Eddie is great. He’s a really nice personality to have around, so it was really fun. That idea of comraderie and getting the band back together, everyone loves that kind of stuff. There’s a sentimental aspect to it. But Banshee is one of those shows where, whenever there’s anything good, we break it. Inevitably, it’s going to be a little messy.
Lucas Hood is not the sheriff anymore, and Banshee is in a bad place. How does having Kai Proctor as the mayor affect things?
STARR: It’s definitely a different direction for everyone. I think it’s a blessing and a curse. He actually gives the police a whole new set of resources that they’ve never had before, and in being their ally, he’s not going to turn up with machine guns and try to kill everyone at the Cadi. So, having the bad guy on your side is not necessarily a bad thing. There’s a huge compromise and big conflict for Brock. He’s finally gotten the badge he’s always wanted, but there’s a huge price he has to pay, sucking it up and answering to Kai Proctor. Brock really carries the wait of that, for himself and through the town. It really is expressed through him, how good and how bad that is for everyone involved. I love it. I think it’s great that Proctor is the mayor. I think it’s hysterical. When I first read it, I got very excited about it.
With everything that’s happened since Lucas Hood showed up in Banshee, do you ever think he just wishes he’d kept going and never stayed there?
STARR: Well, there was that episode in Season 3, when Siobhan got her neck snapped, where he reflected on that and went through it in his head, what would have happened, if he’d not gotten involved in the sheriff’s fight and how everything could be different. But, he’s like a shark. He’s gotta keep moving forward and keep water in his gills. Being a person that acts first and thinks later, you’re going to have to deal with some stuff. There are going to be consequences. That’s what Season 4 is all about. It’s all about dealing with the consequences of his actions.
Job has been such a constant for Lucas. How will what he’s been through and how he’s been changed, as a result, affect their bond for the rest of the season?
STARR: Job is a true friend, and they’ve always expressed their friendship and love for one another through action. They’ve got a bit of work to do. They’ve got a bit of bridge-building to experience. Job has been through a lot. They’ve got to do a lot of figuring out on their own. Some thing has been broken that can never quite be the same. The sense that I get with these guys is that they’ll always be there for each other, but they’re not a duo anymore. If they were a duo, they’ve now gone off and are making their own albums. They’re still good friends, but it feels slightly different. In Season 4, they have a lot of work to do. It’s complicated. The show doesn’t serve anything up with a red ribbon on it. It’s not nicely packaged at the end. It’s complicated and it’s messy, but that’s what we love about it.
By the time we get to the end of this final season, do you think viewers will feel a sense of closure with these characters, and was that something you were able to feel yourself?
STARR: Yeah, absolutely. We’re finishing at the peak of our power, so to speak. This is the best season of the show. Going out at that point was a difficult thing to do, but at the same time, Jonathan had the foresight to call it quits at the right time and exercise restraint in a way that most shows don’t. So, I feel really good about the show ending and I feel good about the way that we end the show. Whenever you’re wrapping a show up, it’s a bit some of the people, some of the time. You’re not going to please everyone. I do think that the way we rounded the show out is, it might not be satisfying for everyone, but I felt good about it. I felt like it was the right way for us to round off the show. The show that we’d made, and not the show that we had in our imaginations, I believe has been serviced really well, in the end.
Did you want to jump right back into another TV show right away, or was it something specific about American Gothic that was just too irresistible?
STARR: I’ve gotta be honest with you, there were a lot of different things that attracted me to the show that I’m doing now. There are great people involved. It’s a completely different show. There’s a dark element to it, and I’m attracted to the dark stuff. The script was just really good. I love my time off. I could have happily just sat and done nothing for awhile. But I’m also a working actor and I’ve got bills to pay, so there’s a reality, as well. It was a no-brainer, jumping into this. As soon as I read the script, I was really excited about it. It was a good decision to get involved.
Who is the character that you’re playing and how does he fit in to the world of the show?
STARR: I play Garrett, who is the long lost son that is part of a prominent Boston family that is dealing with possibly having a serial killer in their midst. I’m a dark element in the show, which is great. Families, man. I’m glad my family is much more normal than any of the families that I’ve been involved in on screen.
Banshee airs on Friday nights on Cinemax.