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, actress Ivana Milicevic (who plays Carrie Hopewell, a former notorious jewel thief turned small town mom, who then got sucked back into the criminal life at a very high cost to her family) talked about learning how things would play out in the show’s final season, how she feels about where her character ended up, what she still wishes she’s gotten to learn about Carrie, when Banshee is at its best, what she’s most proud of with the show, and whether fans will feel a sense of closure. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: Knowing that this would be the last season for 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?
IVANA MILICEVIC: They gave us an outline. At the beginning of the season, they didn’t have all of the episodes written and things do change a little bit. But I did know that Carrie would be trying to fix everything, as a means to somehow get a little bit of peace and closure for Gordon. So, I knew that, and I knew that she had this house that she was refurbishing and that the house was like a hologram of Carrie’s heart, with a fortress around it and a broken mess inside of it that she was trying to fix.
How do you personally feel about the journey that your character took in this last season and what was your reaction when you found out where she ended up?
MILICEVIC: The only other thing that I was thinking would be fun would have been if she’d taken Rebecca under her wing and the two of them could have figured out something. And then, Rebecca wouldn’t be dead. That would have been a fun thing. We didn’t think of that. First of all, even coming into it, we knew that there was a chance that this might be the last season. It wasn’t something that was sprung on us. We knew that that was a really strong possibility because of the expense to move to Pittsburgh. It was a practical thing, and nothing to do with the story. We were moving and it was going to cost a lot of money, and that two year jump helped with the fact that we were actually in a different location. Things are a little different. And it was very, very sad when we found out, for sure, that we were going to be over, but it would have been as sad if it had happened after the fifth season. It was going to come to an end at some point, but it was bittersweet.
Who would you say this character is now, compared to who she was when the show first started?
MILICEVIC: In the first season, this was a character that was pretty set and comfortable in the fake life that she set up for herself. But when Lucas came to town, it was like that first drop of alcohol for the alcoholic. All of that rage, adrenalin, pain, fear, love and passion that was inside of her, all started to pour out of her. The choices that she made, and the repercussions and consequences of those choices, now in Season 4, means that she’s lost everything. Lucas left, she has no Job, she has no children, and she has no Gordon. She had nothing. She’s keeping it together by a thread. Now she’s got nothing but time by herself, to reflect and make a plan for the next move. She doesn’t have the distraction of having to make brownies for the bake sale.
Was there anything you wanted to learn about the character that you finally got to, by the end of this last season, and was there anything that you never really got a chance to learn?
MILICEVIC: You want your characters to be as complete as any human being. Seeing as there’s plenty about my own self, as Ivana, that I haven’t gotten to learn and would like to, yes, there’s more that I’d like to learn about Carrie. And there were more things that I wish we could have explored, but that wasn’t the show. I would have loved more scenes with Deva, in general, whether she taught her how to fight and feel, or if she taught her other things. But, our show was not exactly entirely a show about a family. Those things were placeholders for the other emotional anchors from which everything else happened and all of the choices were made. They were usually wrong choices, but choices nonetheless.
In the beginning, Carrie was against being drawn back into the criminal life, and then she seemed to enjoy having that part of her life back. Knowing everything that’s happened as a result of her decision, do you think she would go back and do it all differently?
MILICEVIC: What could she have done? Let’s say that when Lucas came back into town, she told Gordon, the D.A. What could he do, except make a bigger mess, especially considering Lucas’ state of mind, at that point, just days out of jail? I don’t know what she could have done differently. Let’s say she was like, “Screw you, I’m telling my dad!” At that point, she thought her dad wanted her killed. She had nowhere to turn. Not to mention, there were her conflicting emotions because she did love him, and she felt guilty because he went to jail and she didn’t. I don’t see another way. No one could have helped her, except for the criminal element, and then she would have been in the same situation. Was the Banshee sheriff going to help her? So, I don’t think she could have done anything differently.
We don’t really know what went on with Carrie these last two years, we just see the aftermath of what’s happened. How did she deal with losing everything?
MILICEVIC: I think it went past shock, where you don’t get out of bed for a long time. I don’t think that she dealt with her depression, in that way. I think she used anger. I think anger motivated her and gave her fuel, during that time. She was mad at Lucas for leaving and she was mad about everything that happened, and she used that fuel. She’s not going to go about anything in the healthiest way. She used that time to obsessively look for Job and not give up on him, and obsessively work on the house, and obsessively take crime into her own hands, seeing as how Mayor Proctor is messing up the legal system in Banshee.
What do you think her ideal life would look like, at this point? Would it be to live in that house with her kids? Would it be to have a life with Lucas Hood? Does she even know what she wants?
MILICEVIC: She only knows what she wants in increments, and oftentimes, it’s what she wants in the moment. Obviously, ultimately, she wants her kids, but she questions whether she’s even a good person to be with the kids. When all is said and done, she’s like, “Is being with me even the best for them?” I think that, if she didn’t have kids, she would want to run away with Lucas, but that is just not a possibility for her, in her heart. They’re toxic together. They make huge messes together. As many messes as they make apart, I think they make even more of them together. Even if she fully had the peaceful life, she still has to deal with the fact that Gordon’s death is somewhat on her. There’s always that. Maybe if she could find a good, strong spiritual path and a good therapist that could get through to her, she could let some of these things go, but it wouldn’t be a good show to watch.
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?
MILICEVIC: To me, the best seasons for emotional depth were Seasons 1 and 2. We started the show off with a 15-year history, which we showed you pieces of, little by little, so that you could see how these people got to where they are today. When Carrie was having the fight with Olek, who she had so much history with, to protect her family, that was so deep and potent and there was so much more emotional depth to that than her fighting a dude who she doesn’t know, who’s just a bad guy. There was just more passion and emotion in there. The bad choices that Lucas Hood made because he was so in love with this woman and wanted her back, in that first season, who can’t relate to doing stupid things for someone you’re still in love with. We’ve all been there. I know I have. Or running away from a father who wasn’t a good dad. People can relate to that. And then, there was the complicated, “I love you. You’re my dad. I hate you.” Or Kai Proctor’s complicated relationship with his Amish community. He loves them and protects them, but doesn’t let them ever forget that he could hurt them. There was the deep pain and anger that he feels for them shunning him when he was just trying to protect them. Those are the times that I think Banshee is at its best. From that core, we can do crazy things. On our show, that means making bad choices, as we deal with these things, but it comes from things that are actually very relatable.
When you look back on the run of this series and the journey that you took with it, as an actor and as a character, what are you most proud of?
MILICEVIC: First of all, I had never gotten a chance, as an actress, to play such a complex character. We all hope to, but there are a lot of great actors out there that never get that chance. I was just happy that I could pull it off because it’s a hard line to walk. And I’m proud of what I was able to do physically. Even something like the sex scenes, I had never done anything like that and it was way scary, but I did it and look at me, surviving that. And I’m really proud of the comradery that we had on the set. Shows can be wonderful, but then there could be a mess behind the scenes. We are like a family, so there are some dysfunctional things that happened behind the scenes, but ultimately we all got along really well and worked really well together. That, alone, is something to be proud of, in my opinion. We had a set that was full of beautiful women, and the women loved each other and weren’t catty towards each other. We wanted the best for each other. Those are all huge successes that don’t always happen. They’re not to be taken for granted and they’re not the norm, when you look at the thousands of shows that have come and gone over the years. So, there’s a lot to be proud of.
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?
MILICEVIC: I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s even possible. Did people have a sense of closure with the last episode of Lost? Did people have a sense of closure with the last episode of The Sopranos? I don’t know. Some will, some won’t. Yes and no. It’s so subjective and objective. They both work. People feel so passionately about our show. Thinking back to the death threats that the writers got when Siobhan was killed, there will probably be a spectrum of opinions and feelings. And we will be there on Twitter with everyone, joining in on the fun. I’ve watched all of the episodes except for the last one because I want to watch that one with everyone.
Banshee airs on Friday nights on Cinemax.