Both Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Texas Killing Fields, Watchmen, The Losers) and Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, Centurion, Hitman) are successful movie actors, but both have decided to give the big screen a rest to star on Starz’ new TV series, Magic City.
Set in Miami Beach in 1959, Morgan portrays Ike Evans, the owner of the luxurious Miramar Playa Hotel. Married to Vera (Kurylenko), a former showgirl, his life appears on the surface to be perfect. But to finance his dream, Ike has sold his soul to mob boss Ben ‘The Butcher’ Diamond (Danny Huston), and as Ike’s world begins to implode, he must fight for his family and the Miramar Playa, in Magic City.
Morgan and Kurylenko spoke with TV Critics earlier this year about their new series, which premieres on April 6th.
Can you talk about how you became involved in this, and as successful film actors why you wanted to do a TV series?
Jeffrey: I was sent three or four scripts, not just the first episode, which is a luxury. The reason we’re here is that Mitch (Glazer) wrote some phenomenal scripts. And he wrote every single word that you’ll see in the first season.
He wrote all eight hours of this show. And so when I was able to see the first four and how these stories were being told, there wasn’t a question [about doing it].
People ask, ‘Why are you doing television?’ This isn’t television. It’s unlike anything that’s ever been on television, certainly in scale, scope, and what Mitch has brought to the table. I’m lucky to be in this show, and I owe that to Mitch and his vision and his writing.
Olga: I never thought about doing a TV series, but then the first three episodes arrived, and my agent said, ‘Have a look at this.’ And I read them, and I just fell in love with my character, Vera. And I said right away, ‘I want to be Vera. I want to do this.’
Jeffrey, can you give us some insight into this character? He seems to live in shades of gray.
Jeffrey: He does live in shades of gray. I think the first impression we have of Ike Evans is that he’s on top of the world. He owns the gem of Miami Beach that he build from nothing. He is married to the most beautiful woman in the world.
He’s got a family that he loves and adores more than anything. And that’s what he projects out there into the world. I think behind closed doors is where you, as an audience, will start to see that there’s some problems he’s having.
He has made a deal with the devil in order to create and build his dream. And it’s going to bite him in the ass. I think that journey is a really fun, amazing, dangerous journey that we all get to go on.
What was it about Vera that intrigued you?
Olga: It was a very complex role because she’s a foreigner, she’s an outsider in the society where she lives. It is very hard for her. She’s trying very hard to fit in. She’s not easily accepted. So she has a lot to prove.
She’s married to this wealthy man. She’s a very simple girl. She’s a working girl. She was a dancer. Suddenly, she becomes this social figure and, as much as she enjoys this, there’s a void in her because she actually is missing the simple life of a performer.
I think once you are a performer, if you take that away from the person, it’s like someone cut your wings off. With [Ike] it’s real love, she’s not with him for any other reason.
She’s also trying to be a stepmother to his little girl who is a teenager, and it’s a difficult age. So there’s so much to her. It was so interesting to explore.
Jeffrey, do you like doing movies or TV better?
Jeffrey: I love doing movies because you don’t get bored as an actor. You get to do different characters. This was the first script I’d read that was made for television, and again, this isn’t a TV show that I’ve ever seen or read. I could do this character forever.
There’s so much to it. There’s so much to this show. You go where the writing is, where the great characters are, and it’s here. So it was an easy deal.
Olga, you did a modern-day ‘Bond’ film. Does this ’50s era remind you of the classic ‘Bond’ films?
Olga: I didn’t really put it together that way. Sure, but it’s a different style, it’s not exactly the same type of movie. But what’s cool is that my character in this is very different from the ‘Bond’ girl [I played].
What do you like about the era and the wardrobe?
Olga: The ’50s wardrobe is probably the most beautiful style in history. It looks so elegant. Everybody looks so classy and beautiful. I could wear those kinds of clothes head to toe every day.
It made me want to dress that way. and I think I did during those five months. Everything was just so glamorous, and women looked very feminine. I don’t think I wore pants during the five months, because women wore more dresses.
Can you talk about what the freedoms are in doing a series on a channel like Starz that doesn’t have network restrictions?
Jeffrey: You can use adult language. There’s some swearing involved, as is in real life. I think we show, obviously, skin. We show real relationships, and sometimes people get naked in their real relationships.
It’s much more real life when you’re not censored. You get to actually bring these characters to life in every way. And sometimes that means that the violence is real, and the language is real, and the love is real.
Olga: Well, not that real. [We don't want people] to think it’s all really real. Jeffrey: It was totally real for me!
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