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Actor Steven Bauer talks Showtime’s ‘Ray Donovan’

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Actor Steven Bauer stars as Avi in Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.” This still image is from the fifth episode of the new season, the show’s fourth. Actor Steven Bauer stars as Avi in Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.” This still image is from the fifth episode of the new season, the show’s fourth. (Photo courtesy of Showtime/Michael Desmond)

The shadowy world of professional fixers is at the center of Showtime’s hit drama “Ray Donovan.”

The show stars Liev Shreiber in the title role, Irish actress Paula Malcomson as his wife Abby, Oscar winner Jon Voight as his father Mickey and Steven Bauer (“Scarface,” “Breaking Bad”) as his right-hand man Ave.

As the series opened its fifth season on Aug. 6, Ray begins mandatory anger management classes after wrangling in a bar fight following a family tragedy.

But where is Ave? Last season, Ave tangled with the Russian mafia in scenes which, Bauer reveals, were as painful as they appeared.

During a phone interview last week, I asked Bauer to share a preview of the new season – one that he says will surprise fans of the show. During the Q&A, Bauer revealed that he is plotting his autobiography.

Bauer: Hello Maine! My friend Christopher Chisholm is from Maine (Cape Elizabeth). We studied acting at the University of Miami together. He was the first actor that I saw in person that I really admired, followed by Ray Liotta (“Field of Dreams,” “Goodfellas”), who was also there at the University of Miami when I arrived back in 1976.

TME: “Ray Donovan” fans have waited nearly a year to find out what happens with your character. Ave was roughed up badly by the Russian mafia last season. Can you give us a preview of what we’ll see during the fifth season?

Bauer: I hope Showtime doesn’t take me out to the shed if I give away too much. First of all, if you remember, I did give the Russians their due. I put two bullets in the guy’s head. By the way, that guy really did kick me hard. That big Russian stunt man got a little overzealous when I was on the ground.

They choreograph these things, but some guys are new to the game and their kicking doesn’t go in step with your turning. They’re supposed to kick you where you’re wearing pads. The first time, I wasn’t wearing them and he kicked me really hard in the back of the rib cage. I was laid out and they said “You want to wear some pads, Steven?’ (laughs). I said “I’ll take those pads.” I always want to be the tough guy first.

So this season, the show takes a radical turn. You’ll know it right away from the first episode. You won’t see me at first. You’ll wonder “What happened to Ave?” But I will show up. When I do, it’s a different Ave and a lot has happened to him. A lot of time has gone by. Probably about a year, so it’s kind of in real time. I can tell you that my work on this show is my best work and they’ve given me some pretty good stuff to do.

TME: You mean your best work that you’ve ever done?

Bauer: I wouldn’t go that far. By the way, I also have a recurring role on “Queen of the South” this season on USA Network. I probably shouldn’t have plugged that (laughing) but I want you to watch it. My work on that show is pretty good but the best Ave you’ve ever seen is this season on “Ray Donovan.” I’m really proud of it. They send me in a direction you won’t be expecting. They don’t kill me or anything, but you’ll see. And you’ll be surprised.

TME: 2017 is the 40th anniversary of the start of your professional career. You’ve done so much work; when you meet someone, do they ask you about things you did decades ago?

Bauer: I’ll tell you what. I have a band here in LA (“Underground Junction”). My guitar player is a virtuoso, but he’s a young guy - about 30. We were sitting around last night and he was asking me about playing music here back in the 80’s. I had done a few movies and was taking a break. They put me together with this band that had lost its record deal and lead singer. It turned out to be The Knack. Do you remember them? They had the song “My Sharona.”

TME: On Capitol Records!

Bauer: Yeah, you know them. We started rehearsing and touring and I was telling my friend about it just last night. The drummer for that band was a great guy named Bruce Gary – my dear friend. Rest in peace, Bruce. One of his best friends was Robby Krieger from The Doors.

Robby was doing a concert for Vietnam veterans and their families at the LA Forum and he recruited Bruce to play drums and me to sing. He said “Oh my God, you sound just like (Jim) Morrison. Come and sing three Doors songs.” It was amazing. 11,000 people on their feet. I’ll never forget it. When people ask about the past, it just opens up the floodgates and all of these memories come out.

TME: It’s time to write a book. You need to get this stuff down.

Bauer: There will be one. I have the chapters outlined right now. It’s not sold yet, but it will be soon. It sort of follows the model of Keith Richards’ great autobiography (“Life”). I’ve led a pretty colorful life in and out of Hollywood and I continue to do that. Every time I go before a camera, it’s a chance to make an impact, tell a story, and introduce a character that people have not seen before.

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