“Banshee is really a show that, once it gets people, it gets them deep.”
Serial killers who have clearly cut a page out of the Temple of Doom altar-sacrifice playbook. Hackers getting tortured like they’re in Gitmo. Flamethrowers taking down crystal meth labs. Illicit and sometimes graphic sex. And blood — lots and lots of blood.
Yep, it’s just another typical day for Banshee, Cinemax’s highest-rated original show, which is now more than halfway through its 8 episode, fourth and final season. And just as its rabid fanbase has come to expect, Banshee is pulling no punches as it hurtles headfirst toward its series finale on May 22. New episodes premiere Fridays at 10 p.m. ET, and can subsequently be viewed and re-viewed on the MAX GO app. (And if you want to binge/catch up on season 3 right quick, it’s now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download.)
Banshee fans are on the edge of their collective seats to see just where the show’s central figure, the former gangster/thief cum faux ex-sheriff who goes by the name of Lucas Hood — played with a combination of extreme grit and deep-rooted sensitivity by native New Zealander Antony Starr — winds up as he goes off the grid to help solve the final season’s central serial-murder mystery.
Season 4 is about Lucas Hood determining whether he even belongs in this world at all.
“We probably could have done another season and the fans would have liked it, but you may have been stretching a little bit,” Starr told Digital Trends. “If you’re listening in the right way, the story will tell you when it wants to finish. It will let you know when it’s told. The hardest thing is to stay true to that voice. Even when you want to do another one, just say, ‘No. Always leave them wanting more.’”
Viewers will be pleased with how the series wraps up, believes Starr. “The way the show has been rounded out, it was very satisfying for me personally,” he says. “I feel like the fans are going to be very happy with it.”
Starr spoke exclusively with Digital Trends about Banshee’s slight tonal shift in season 4, the best way to watch and listen to the show, and why one of his, err, accessories has its own Twitter account.
Digital Trends: It’s good to hear you’re still alive.
Antony Starr: (a bit incredulous) What do you mean, alive?
Well, we don’t know exactly where Lucas Hood is going to wind up at the end of this season and the series itself, so…
Oh, I see what you’re saying. Yeah, it’s good to be alive from my point of view, absolutely. I read you.
Yeah, that’s what I meant. So far this season, you’re not as bruised and battered as you usually are.
It was an interesting season for me to do because it was much more introspective. It’s less externalized. I think seasons 1-3 were all about Lucas trying to find his place in the world, and season 4 is really about him trying to find a sort of reconciliation with himself, and whether he belongs in the world at all. It’s an interesting season from that point of view.
There’s one scene where we see you yelling out — and this is something you and I have in common, I think — “I am not Lucas Hood!”
Ahh, I can say that too! It’s been three seasons’ worth of Lucas putting his foot forward in the wrong direction, and now it’s all coming home to roost. It’s about him facing his demons and coming clean, trying to figure out what the next steps for him are in his life.
I recently spoke with Matt Servitto [who plays Banshee Sheriff Brock Lotus], and it sounds like everyone is going to some seriously dark places before the show wraps — even darker than what I’ve seen so far.
Yeah, the show has always been really dark, but it also has an element of humor in the darkness. I’ve always been keen on going as deep and as dark as we could. I don’t know what that says about me (both laugh), but I don’t need any humor or any light in the dark.
Jonathan [Tropper, Banshee co-creator], Adam [Targum, co-executive producer], and the writers responded to that, so we went pretty dark. There’s a different tone to this last season. I also think it’s the best season in terms of the way it was shot. Stylistically, it’s slightly different. You might have a different opinion, but it’s a slightly more mature version of the show.
I actually like the fact that you shot season 4 in Western Pennsylvania. I grew up in the Pittsburgh area, so seeing that terrain onscreen looks more authentic to me. It makes me feel like you really are in the location where the show is set.
Social media is a true reflection of how passionate fans are about the show.
Right — no town is stunt-doubling for Banshee. Western Pennsylvania is where, ideally, we would have been the whole time. We had a big change, obviously, moving the show up from North Carolina [where seasons 1-3 were shot] to Pennsylvania, and I think the adjustment was looked at as an opportunity to shift the tone of the show and the nature of where the characters were at, and how they dealt with their problems. It’s a new version of the show — Banshee 2.0.
It’s always been a foot-to-the-floor kind of show, but what I’ve seen in season 4 is we’ve adjusted the pacing a little bit. You’re right in there in one moment, and then we pull back to see someone going through something a little more internal.
The people who love the show are going to love the show anyway. Just being able to shift gears like that in the last season and go into some deep, dark places in that slightly different way really benefited the show. It’s a good way to go. Everybody feels we’ve put our best foot forward.
All seasons of Banshee have been pretty cinematic, this last one especially. What’s the best way to watch the show — the big-screen, full-on surround-sound experience?
Yeah! It’s one of those shows where there’s a lot of work put into the post-production, the soundscapes, and the background and theme music — everything is well thought out. There’s a lot of post-production and special-effects work that is really elevated if you watch it with the proper surround sound and on a big screen. I’m not really a technically minded person, but I do appreciate it when I see the show being played on good technical gear. It sings. There’s a whole other level.
Being that you’re a native of New Zealand, I have to ask: Are you a Neil Finn fan?
I love Neil Finn! I’m a huge Crowded House fan. He’s a bit of a living legend in New Zealand. I haven’t listened to them for a while, but there was many a time when we had some much longer drive times to the set in the mornings where I’d put Crowded House on and pretend I was back in New Zealand. That helped me enjoy how I got to work.
Is there any other music that helps you get ready for scenes, anything else you put on when you’re preparing?
I definitely used to, but I don’t so much anymore. I tend to try and get whatever I need from the material and my own imagination. But if there was any music I’d be listening to, to get me fired up about Banshee, it would definitely be guitar-based rock — pretty edgy, and pretty hard.
That makes a lot of sense. You had a bandage wrapped around your left wrist for the past couple of seasons. Was that a real injury, or was it more of a continuity thing?
The special effects work is really elevated if you watch Banshee with the proper surround sound and on a big screen.
I sprained my wrist at the end of season 1. When I came back for season 2, it hadn’t healed, and it required a brace on it whenever we were doing fight scenes, as there were so many of them at that point.
I think it might have been the second episode of season 2 [The Thunder Man] where we added into the fight that I got cracked on the hand with a night stick, so we just carried it through. The first three seasons really happened over a period of about 6 months, after I got out of prison. The good thing is, thanks to the magic of TV, we could sustain it. And I believe the bandage still has its own Twitter account.
Oh, that’s fantastic. [It does! See @LucasBandage.]
There’s a scene with me and Ivana Miličević, who plays Hood’s star-crossed lover, Anastasia/Carrie Hopewell] in a car where I put my hand up on her head, and it was the dirty old bandage. I think it ruined the shot for a few people. (both chuckle) But in the last season, it’s gone. The wristband just got fired.
Twitter seems to have played a part in the show’s popularity. Are you cool with the social media world?
I don’t know that the social media world is a true reflection of how well the show’s doing or not — I think it’s a true reflection of how passionate the fans are about the show. I enjoy it. There are a bunch of people on social media especially who are very effusive about it. They’re not bashful about their feelings. Banshee is really a show that, once it gets people, it gets them deep.
Passion is a word that surrounds the show in many ways. Why do you think it connects so deeply with so many people?
Well, in talks I had with [series co-creator] Jonathan Tropper — and he’s said this in interviews as well — is he never intended the show to be as dramatic as it is. He hired a bunch of dramatic actors and a bunch of people who were interested in telling stories through characters. It took on a depth that probably wasn’t initially intended.
Jonathan has a big brain. He saw what was going on, and recognized the potential very quickly. He went more into the drama as opposed to making a brainless action show. And he recognized there were a bunch of people who would walk over coals for him, myself included. We wanted to do the best job we could, and be as honest as we could.
I think that resonates with people. People respond to emotional truth, and I think we had a ton of it onscreen. The show is raw. It’s not perfect, and it’s not polished in a way some other shows are. But it does have that truth at its core, and that’s what people respond to.
Can you choose your favorite Lucas Hood moment of the entire series, one we might not expect?
My favorite moment is when Lucas Hood and a gun contemplate their future [in season 4, episode 1, Something Out of the Bible]. I won’t say anything more than that.
Ah, a man and his gun. For a character who’s gone through some extreme physical things, there’s also a deep emotionality to Lucas — that is, if we can call you by that name, since we know he has another one.
Yeah, absolutely. I gotta be honest — it’s the hardest show I’ve ever shot. I’ve never done anything like it. It was a hyper-masculine environment where the action stuff was really draining, but then the next day — or even later on the same day — there would be an intense emotional scene, which is also really draining. That stuff really knocked it out of you.
Banshee was an intense show. The schedule was very, very tough because the show was overly ambitious, if I’m honest, with respect to the amount of time we had to do things. It was a brutal show in that respect. It was like going into battle every day. But look — I wouldn’t change anything for the world. Banshee was a great thing to be a part of.