“Honestly, as I get older the more I appreciate what I do and really enjoy it,” admits Hank Azaria as we chat via webcam (watch above) about his recent Emmy nomination for his recurring role on “Ray Donovan.” This four-time Emmy winner for his voice work on “The Simpsons” says, “As I get older I relax more. I enjoy the process so much. I really like being on the set of ‘Ray Donovan’ and I enjoy doing ‘The Simpsons’ more than I ever did.”
Azaria, who has worked on a staggering 27 seasons (and counting) of “The Simpsons,” reaped a Drama Guest Actor Emmy nomination for playing Ed Cochran, a former FBI director who seeks revenge on Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber). Azaria confesses,“it’s fun to play a character who sounds the way I sound and who looks the way I look. He’s a bit more frightening and weird than I am but only a bit. That would sound easier but sometimes it’s harder just to be yourself. I’m used to hiding behind a character.”
The actor describes his character as “an obsessive borderline criminally insane narcissist with a heart of gold. Not really. He has kind of a black little heart, but with a good sense of humor and irony.” That combination is catnip to an actor. “Cochran is always trying to keep people on their toes. The scene can sometimes play equally well at a furious rage, or with a dead eyed sort of calm or a bemused giggle. It’s all kind of good because Ed’s a bit unhinged so he’s not really constrained by social norms.”
In the fourth season, which is currently airing on Showtime, Cochran enters the criminal world by teaming up with Ray. While his arc has wrapped, he will likely return. As for future storylines, Azaria says he “could see Cochran deciding ‘I’m pretty good at this crime thing. Crime does pay’ and he full blown leans into a criminal life. I really like Cochran running around like in the last episode. Being smarter than everyone else but ultimately outsmarting himself because he gets too greedy. I think it’s a fun trope for the character.”
He describes working on the show as “intense; people are trying to tap into emotion. They imagine themselves in circumstances that are heartbreaking or frighting or violent. Trying to portray the truth of that can be a little intense. It’s an intense set as a result but everyone is passionate about making it good.”
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