Alumni Summer Binge Series Pt. III: 'Ray Donovan'
This summer, we are putting together a collection of high-caliber television shows that have alumni appear throughout the course of their run, called the "Alumni Summer Binge Series." Our first two highlighted series were the recent HBO triumph Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty and the long-running TNT drama The Closer. Now we turn our attention to Showtime, where the hit crime drama, Ray Donovan, found a home for seven seasons and a TV movie.
As a professional fixer, Ray Donovan helps the rich and powerful of LA get out of sticky situations. His life becomes strenuous when his father is unexpectedly released from prison, and his family problems begin to flare up. Liev Schreiber starred as Ray Donovan with Eddie Marson, and Dash Mihok featured as his brothers. It also featured Hollywood royalty, Jon Voight as Ray’s Father, Mickey and Elliot Gould as Ezra, a close confidant to Ray.
Katherine Moening (Class of 1998) plays Lena, one of Ray’s closest confidants, and handles the research for his office. “She is a no-nonsense lesbian who is both sexy and tough….” Moening was in 75 episodes throughout the show’s s eighty-two-episode run and appeared again in the tv-movie. Moening has worked steadily in Hollywood for over twenty years with significant roles in the film adaption of The Lincoln Lawyer, Showtime's The L Word, and CBS' Three Rivers. Upon leaving Ray Donovan, she revised her role of Shane McCutcheon in The L Word sequel, The L Word: Generation Q, which is set to return for a third season with Moening in it.
Hank Azaria (Specialized Training 1980) is one of the most recognized faces, and unrecognized voices in entertainment, with over a hundred screen credits to his name. He has done over a thousand different voices on over 700 episodes of The Simpsons. He has appeared in such comedy favorites as The Birdcage and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, as well as taking dramatic turns in the classics Heat and Quiz Game. He joined the cast of Ray Donovan in season two as the cocky Los Angeles FBI director, Ed Cochran, who vows to bring down Ray and his father, Mickey. Azaria appeared in a total of 14 episodes from season two through season four. He received two "Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series" Primetime Emmy nominations for playing Cochran, winning one in 2016.
Season six saw the arrival of the flamboyant Sandy Patrick, played by Sandy Martin (Class of 1969). The part was written for Martin after the show’s producers were impressed by a previous audition. Sandy Patrick was Mickey Donovan’s former sister-in-law and had the remarkable power to pull his guard down, often leading to trouble. Martin is the definition of a "working actress," she has appeared on just about every major television show from the 1980s to the present, including; Night Court, ER, Transparent, and Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia. She has made a splash in the movies as well, appearing as Grandma in Napolean Dynamite, Momma Dixon in Martin McDonagh's Oscar Winner Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and as Janice in the Mickey Rourke-led Barfly.
Brooke Smith (Class of 1988) was there at the show's start, beginning in the first season's second episode. She played a nurse, Frances, who reluctantly fell in love with Ray’s brother Terry. Brooke would go on to appear in 13 episodes throughout three seasons. Upon leaving The Academy, Brooke has worked none stop, from appearing in The Silence of the Lambs in 1991 to reoccurring on Amazon's Bosch and A&E's Bates Motel, she has had a full career with many notable credits under her belt.
Also, in season six, Max Casella (Class of 1987) portrayed an undercover cop who tries to get crooked officer Sean ‘Mac’ McGrath involved in a sting operation. Casella first appeared on the scene as Racetrack Higgins in Disney's film adaption of Newsies. He has since charmed us many times with performances in Analyze This, Inside Llewyn Davis, Blue Jasmine, and many more.
Eion Bailey (Class of 1996) played Steve Knight, a charismatic motivational speaker/self-help guru who enlists the help of Ray throughout season two. He was known for his charming behavior and was well-loved by fans, even if he was only on the show for a limited time. Bailey can most recently be seen in Epix's horror drama From, which has been renewed for a second season.
Tom Bower (Class of 1957) portrayed Judge Roger Wettick, a man who takes part in helping Ray and Mickey with releasing Terry from prison in season three. Also, in the third season, Chris Browning (Class of 1989) got to play a “cowboy pimp” known as Gary Royal. Adam Meir (Class of 2005) portrayed the odd, mime-like street performer, Brazen the Clown, who tries to steal Terry’s cell phone before fearfully giving it back. Finally, Vico Ortiz (Class of 2011) portrayed a drunk woman while some of the show’s characters go out for a night on the town.
The show received ten Primetime Emmy Nominations throughout its run, winning one (Azaria's win). As well as seven Golden Globe Awards, also winning one. All seven seasons are available to stream on Showtime.
Alex Matthews contributed to this piece.