Pooch Hall has really found his place. Playing the youngest son of the Boston Irish Donovan clan in Showtime’s Ray Donovan, Hall has also found a second family.
Now in its fifth season, the story of a Hollywood fixer (Liev Schreiber in the title role) has seen the evolution of each of the characters, and, this season, Hall’s Daryll Donovan, the illegitimate son of career criminal Mickey Donovan (Jon Voigt) is finally coming into his own.
In each season, Hall has had the opportunity to work with different segments of the cast, trying to find Daryll’s place in the Donovan clan. This season, he has teamed up with Voigt’s Mickey, not always willingly, covered up an accidental killing, got involved in Mickey’s scheme to write a movie script, and culminated in Daryll killing an FBI agent.
“It started off with Daryll working in the office with Ray, still not having a true assignment,” says Hall. “And he’s like, ‘OK, Ray, give me a shot at working with the people I know.’ And what ended up happening was Mickey just happened to be in the car when I got the call from Jay White [guest actor Brian White], and he chopped up the sensei.
“And this is Daryll trying to be somewhat like Ray. He thinks he can do it. It’s still undiscovered territory and territory he doesn’t really know about. And so, Mickey’s there, and he’s got a hold on the situation. But I don’t really know what’s going on with Mickey, and we all, we all as brothers don’t know exactly what we’re doing.
“We’re all intertwined, and the fact that Daryll can’t quite figure it out, it’s a mess. In our minds, we think we’re doing the right thing, we’re trying to do the right thing or make the right choice, and it always either backfires or it just causes more crap.”
Hall sees his character trying to decide between being more like eldest brother Ray or following Mickey’s path, and at this point in the season, it seems that Daryll may have chosen the wrong side.
“He definitely is [leaning toward the wrong side], and I think it’s part of him not really having that guidance and knowing which side of the track [to follow]. I think if you’re a Donovan, there’s really no right side. It’s either you’re on team Mickey or Team Ray, and he’s got one foot in each yard.
"And, I think with this season, you’re going to see at the end of the season, he makes some sacrifices that are going to really shake things up for season six. I think Daryll loves Mickey so much, but Mickey’s such a twisted individual. I think Daryll always thought, hey, I can get to be with my dad and hang out with my dad, but he’s such a twisted individual, and I think Daryll is starting to really understand that.
"But then, there’s still that father-son bond that’s just thinking, maybe he’ll come around. But I’m starting to come into my own manhood, and I gotta start looking out for Daryll, but I still have one eye looking over in Mickey’s yard.
“Ray seems to be the guy who has it all, so, do I want to be like Ray? I certainly don’t want to be like my pop. I mean, I love him, and being like Ray might not be the right choice either.“
At the end of this season, fans are left with a cliffhanger regarding Darryl, and Hall is thrilled with it. “100%. It 100% is a cliffhanger. Unlike last year, where a lot of people were left asking 'Is this the end of the show? What’s going on?' It was left with a lot of people saying. Hmmm…
"But this one, especially with my character, and what I do is definitely a cliffhanger, and I don’t think people are going to see it coming. They really took some time and allowed Daryll to evolve, and it felt great. Doing something other than going to get the coffee. They are giving Daryll a purpose.
"And I’m getting to show my chops and show another side of me. The fans are gonna love Daryll and see some awesome stuff. It felt real good.”
As fraught with problems as the relationships are on the show, off stage, the actors have a much better relationship, particularly Hall and Voigt.
“First and foremost, I want to say how much I love working on Ray Donovan and love my cast. I love Jon. Jon’s my dad. I’ll never stop saying that. We went out this weekend for my son’s basketball tournament, and watching him and watching my kid. My kid calls him Papa Jon, like a grandfather. My dad, it’s hard for him, he doesn’t get out much, so I appreciate that. We have a great relationship.”
His relationships with the rest of the cast are close, as well. “First and foremost, we’re professionals, and a lot of us, some more than others, have had tons of experience, but the word that we all have in common is professional.
“When you come into this project and you see and recognize what you have, and we say, 'Hey guys, how can we make this the best family vacation?' We come together, we trust each other and we have fun. I’ve learned so much from both of them.
“Liev, I love l Liev. He’s always, always helping me get to that next level. Everyone cares about each other, too. We want to make sure you’re putting your best work out there and making sure the fans are entertained.
And in the movie Chuck [the 2016 film starring Schreiber as boxer Chuck Wepner], once known as The Bleeder, he fought for me to get in that movie where I played Muhammed Ali. So we got to play two different characters, but that family dynamic was there, where we trust each other.
“We all spend time with each other outside the show, and I know that’s rare in Hollywood sometimes, but we all usually get together and we’ll go to Disneyland or we’ll do something to let the kids hang out and let the kids get together. And they’ll jump in the pool laughing, hot dogs and pizzas and stuff. When you have that, you get to know more about each other, so when we’re on set, we’re so comfortable, and whatever else we all have going on we go out and support each other.
“Myself, Dash [Mihok, who plays Bunchie Donovan], Paula [Malcomson, Abby Donovan] went to the fight together, MacGregor-Mayweather. Eddie and Dash and I have cookouts with the kids at my house, Dash’s house, the pool and all that stuff. Liev’s come to my wife’s events for special needs.
"And Jon, Jon’s done it all, so at this point in time, it’s like, 'If I’m available, and it’s for the kids, I’m there.' He just wants to be the grandfather, he’s got nothing but love to give.
“So, we drove out to Anaheim and watched my son win MVP in his basketball tournament. And what’s great about that is, as we’re in there, we’re both out of character, we’re just normal guys, and people are just like 'What’s this? Daryll, Mickey and Daryll?' And people will say, 'Jon, do you have a son here,' and he’ll say 'I’m here with Pooch, his son’s playing,' or they’ll ask me if I have a brother because I still look young, and I’ll say, no, it’s my son.
“But one thing about us is that I call him Pop, I don’t call him Jon, and there’s this one time we were all together in Vegas at one of the boxing matches for Showtime, and after it’s finished, some of the casts from Showtime go out and have dinner, going through all these secret ways and mazes to get to the restaurant at MGM.
“So, we come through this room, and sitting in the room is Jack Nicholson, sitting by himself. It’s a room where you wait before you walk out to get to your car. So Jack’s sitting there waiting. And so I go up to him, and I say, ‘Hey Mr. Nicholson, I want to thank you. Would you mind if I got a picture with you?’ He says, ‘I don’t do pictures.’
“So then, behind me is a voice, ‘You don’t take pictures?’ So, Nicholson kind of leans his head around and sees Jon and goes, ‘Is he with you?’
‘That’s right, that’s my son!’
“And they started laughing. Well, we’re taking a picture. And we got pictures together, and it was great to see old Hollywood catch up with each other, they hug each other a few times, and they’re laughing. And it was great. It made my heart smile, not only to see old Hollywood come together but the fact that he validated me as his son. It was really cool, a really cool moment.“
Overall, Hall is happy to do what he does, especially with the Ray Donovan cast, and he appreciates the world in which he is living. He says, “We’re in a world where we are so blessed. We should not do anything to give a black eye to our industry. I love being an actor and being a part of our world and our industry, I want to have a great career and be like Jon, like him and Jack having those moments.”
Hall invites his fans to follow him on Instagram.