Interview: “Banshee” Star Antony Starr

Antony Starr
brings sexy swagger to the role of Lucas Hood
on the new Cinemax drama,

Cinemax has been in the TV series game for awhile now with action-packed acquired series like Strike Back and Hunted, but its first original series, Banshee kicked off last month. With intriguing characters, jaw-dropping happenings and, of course, a hunky star who isn’t shy about taking off his clothes, the series quickly garnered a second season renewal.

In the series, Executive Produced by True Blood’s Alan Ball & House alum Greg Yaitanes, ex-con/thief Lucas Hood, played by New Zealander Antony Starr, gets out of prison and heads to the town of Banshee, PA, where, through some violent occurrences in the pilot, sees the opportunity to start anew by assuming the identity of the new Sheriff in town. Add an ex-love/accomplice (Ivana Milicevic), a transvestite computer hacker (played with wonderful bravado by Hoon Lee), an Amish community and a slew of bad guys and Banshee is one hell of a series ride.

We recently sat down with Starr to talk about taking on the role and whether he’s gotten used to not only the action sequences but the frequent state of undress his character finds himself in.

I mean, Antony Starr is working HARD for those many shirtless scenes on Banshee!

AfterElton: Lucas Hood is a very brooding and tough kind of guy and in person you’re all smiles and charm. How easy or difficult was it to get into character?
Antony Starr:
I’m not someone that goes around getting in fights and engaging in criminal activity, so for me it’s about research and just trying to psychologically and emotionally put myself in the position of [Hood]. It’s difficult as well because this guy’s been to prison for fifteen years. That was a daunting prospect…there’s further to go if you’ve got someone that’s not the natural tough guy to start with, but who’s been made into a tough guy. Then you can access different parts of yourself which maybe isn’t the stock standard tough guy. You might struggle with it a bit more because ultimately we want this guy to be human. And the show’s a love story at its heart, right? So we want this guy that is going to be able to have those softer moments as well, and if I was in real life a gang member that cracked heads for a job then maybe there wouldn’t be the same layers.

AE: Speaking of love, is that what’s basically driving him, at least in the beginning of the series?
I think in the beginning of the series, in the back story, every part of this character has been about love. I spent a lot of time thinking about how does someone survive fifteen years in prison? And looking physically at who I am and what I am…what are the challenges of making this character real or at least real in this world? I’m not a huge guy, so how do I survive physically in this environment? Anchoring himself to that love and making that an inseparable part of being is the only thing that got this guy through fifteen years of prison. And so what does he do? He gets out and beelines for that love… and then that’s rejected. So it’s “where do we go from there?” that catapults the story into the next phase… and the next phase and the next phase. But ultimately, anchored through the whole thing is that love story. And then there’s action soup thrown all over the top of it.

Don’t mess with Job (played by Hoon Lee, r) or you’ll
pay the price! And that goes for YOU, too, Hood!

Banshee photos courtesy of Fred Norris/Cinemax

AE: I love the character of Job and the relationship Hood has with him. They both annoy the hell out of each other but yet they’ve got each other’s back.
It is very much that sibling rivalry. They’re both outsiders. Both probably quite lonely characters and pretty lonely sort of upbringings and back stories. I’m a believer that like finds like. And I think there’s always going to be elements where he thinks I’m an idiot, and I think he’s just a flamboyant drag queen. There’re those things.

And there’s always going to be a teasing element, but when it comes down to it, each character would die for each other or kill for each other, which they do, and it’s a great relationship. And that character I think, that Job character, is one of the ones that on the page is completely different in my head. A lot of people have said this, but [the show and actor Hoon Lee] came up with a really strong character, really compelling. Job becomes an integral part of the characters’ lives and of the world of Banshee.


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