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June 20, 2016

A Complete Player

Pooch Hall’s quest for greatness carried him over the hump of having to start over after leaving The Game. Now the actor is reaping the rewards that come from starring in the award-winning Showtime series Ray Donovan.

Ny MaGee
  • Courtesy Showtime
  • Courtesy Showtime
  • Courtesy Showtime
  • Courtesy Showtime
  • Courtesy Showtime

“If you’re striving to be great, then the end result should be something special and amazing,” could be Pooch Hall's life motto. 

Hall returns as the black sheep son in a dysfunctional South Boston family in the award-winning Showtime drama Ray Donovan when Season 4 kicks off on June 26. Hall said fans of the series can expect to see a “darker” side of Daryll Donovan this season.

“I think in the beginning he wants to play by the rules. He wants to make everybody happy, but I think what he’s starting to find out is that, ‘I have to do me. This is a dog eat dog world and I gotta eat.’”

Ray Donovan has been honored with the Critics' Choice Television Award for Most Exciting New Series, and two Golden Globe Award nominations, both for acting. Liev Schreiber’s take as a ruthless Hollywood fixer garnered a nomination for Best Actor in a Television Series — Drama.

Jon Voight won for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries, or Television Film. Voight was also nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Hall developed a loyal urban following while playing footballer Derwin Davis on The CW/BET sitcom The Game, and he described his success since that series ended as “just one of those things where when we start to grow as an actor, you find yourself coming into other projects, and I owe all that to Ray Donovan.

"It has allowed me to really show my skills on a crossover level to where I did two big films in the fall and winter.”

One of those projects is a co-starring role opposite Schreiber in the independent film The Bleeder, a drama inspired by the life of heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner. Hall plays Muhammed Ali, a role that required “a lot of research.”

“There are a lot of Muhammed Ali philosophies that I equate to my own life,” Hall said, adding that the transition from a successful urban series to an Emmy-winning show hasn’t been easy.

In fact, when The Game ended, Hall found it quite crushing that he had to essentially “start over” in Hollywood. “But I had to start over knowing that I had my fanbase,” he said.

Today, the working actor stays motivated by his supportive family and “the fact that I’m working a job that I love that is amazing.”

“It gives you that energy and that mindset to go out and be great. I know what it means to be great because I played the greatest in The Bleeder with Liev.”

Hall refers to Schreiber as someone “I really consider my friend and brother,” in real life. On the series, however, Hall plays Schreiber’s half-brother, and their relationship is anything but “brotherly.”

Season 4 will find Ray attempting to be an attentive husband and father, so could his newfound approach on life cause him to be more receptive to Daryll Donovan?

“You gotta watch,” said Hall, noting that despite the way he and Voight’s character left things in the Season 3 finale, “I never wanted to give up the Donovan name because the one Donovan that I needed to win over and want to win over still is Ray.”

Hall explained that unlike the previous three seasons, Daryll’s motivation this season is to own his presence and stay true to his purpose.

“I think Daryll's motivation is to be heard and to recognize that Daryll has a purpose. I can be Ray’s equal. I can stand on my own two feet, or I can just be a loyal soldier. I think Daryll is bigger than that.

"He’s the black sheep and I don’t mind being that. I know sometimes people tend to say, ‘Well, how does it feel to be the black son in the white family?’. I’m an individual and I walk and love in all challenges because I feel just as Daryll feels, there’s nothing he can’t do.”

Hall believes he brings a “certain type of flavor and a different type of dynamic” to the series, and he attributes his Hollywood success to this “similar dynamic.”

“I think I bring an x-factor in the sense of heart and humility. Given what Daryll is going through, and who Daryll is within his family and having an Irish-Catholic Boston gangster father, and a black mom, and trying to, not so much figure out his identity, but just like — I want a family.”

In his professional life, the rapper and Jumping the Broom star said he’s “manifesting toward Daryll’s approach in season 4,” and he’s steadily reminded that, “nothing comes easy.”

“You have to put in the work and you have to have the right team to continue to push your name and your projects out there and all that costs money. As a people, we all strive to be great. There’s no reason why this world can’t be great. Sometimes we get caught up in what everyone else is doing and its like, no. You worry about you, and you do what you have to do to be great.

"If you strive for it then there’s no reason why you can’t achieve greatness. If you don’t make the greatest, you’ll be on a level that’s like, ‘Hey, I’m really proud of this. This is my level of greatness.’ Which could be really good.”

As Hall continues on his path toward greatness, he’s taking advantage of the opportunities that come with being on a successful television series.

“I’m writing and producing a romantic comedy, and I’m about to work on another project for TV One. Like I said, me being on Ray Donovan, and people recognizing my work and people wanting me to be involved, all these outlets are starting to open. As an actor, or entertainer in this business, you have to be a complete player.”

Ray Donovan Season 4 premieres Sunday, June 26 at 9 PM ET/PT on Showtime.

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