“Banshee” on Cinemax is a new action drama series following the world of crime and corruption stewing under the seemingly idyllic surface of rural Pennsylvania Amish town Banshee.
‚ÄúI spent 15 years picturing this day, and I got to tell you, this is not how I saw it playing out,‚ÄĚ Lucas Hood (Antony Starr) tells his ex-lover ‚ÄĒ understating things just a little bit ‚ÄĒ in the new Cinemax action drama Banshee, premiering Friday, Jan. 11, at 10pm ET/PT.
Immediately upon his release from state prison, Lucas has a busy day that would tucker out any ex-con. He hits a bar, steals a car, gets in a chase and shootout in Manhattan, boosts a motorcycle, stalks his ex-lover in a rural Pennsylvania Dutch town, and kills two guys in a bar fight. Oh, and by nightfall, he‚Äôs the town‚Äôs sheriff.
The premise of the show ‚ÄĒ executive produced by Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, True Blood) ‚ÄĒ may seem a little preposterous and over-the-top, but that‚Äôs what makes it incredibly engrossing and a lot of fun. Like its Cinemax series brethren Strike Back and Hunted, Banshee is a serious drama that smartly doesn‚Äôt take itself too seriously. ‚ÄúYou have to buy into the heightened reality of the show,‚ÄĚ Starr says. ‚ÄúOne of the great things about the show is that when we have very serious moments, that we have just a pinch of something else, a pinch of color, just to remind us that it‚Äôs not real. We are existing in this heightened universe.‚ÄĚ
The Banshee universe is a surreal, sleazy stew of ex-cons, techie drag queens, politicians, corrupt businessmen, drug dealers, Ukrainian gangsters, rebellious teenagers and local yokels ‚ÄĒ all with their own secrets and agendas. And yes, there are Amish.
‚ÄúYou can‚Äôt turn the corner at the moment without seeing something about Amish,‚ÄĚ Starr says. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre so hot right now. It‚Äôs amazing. Every time I turn on the TV, there‚Äôs another reality show about Amish.‚ÄĚ (Irony!) But Banshee isn‚Äôt just jumping on the trend buggy. The Amish country backdrop adds rich layers to the story. ‚ÄúThere are a lot of bad people in the town of Banshee, and having this idyllic Pennsylvania, sort of pristine ideas that run along with the Amish ideology, is a backdrop for the criminal enterprises that are going on, the bad people that are around,‚ÄĚ Starr says. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a stark contrast for the world. It really creates a landscape where there‚Äôs true good and true evil and they‚Äôre really polarized next to each other.‚ÄĚ
The Amish would definitely shun Banshee for all the sex scenes (it‚Äôs Cinemax, after all). Ivana Milicevic (Casino Royale), plays Carrie, Lucas‚Äô past partner in crime and in bed who has reinvented herself as a wife and mother while hiding from the gangsters she and Lucas betrayed years ago. Milicevic, a former model and Bond girl, has plenty of steamy screen time in Banshee. ‚ÄúAs for sex scenes, I‚Äôm sure everyone you‚Äôve ever asked always tells you the same thing: They are awkward and ridiculous,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúEverything about them is embarrassing and a funny story. Although, the cool thing was is that we really wanted the sex scenes to kind of be natural and real. I really wanted them to be like, ‚ÄėIf we‚Äôre going to do them, let‚Äôs kind of do it.‚Äô I mean not do it do it, but I wanted it to be natural,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs just the whole thing is really funny. And it‚Äôs got nothing to do with sexiness or anything. You just kind of do it. And the cast and crew were all so close, it was pretty comfortable considering how awkward the whole thing is. And then you just kind of get used to it.‚ÄĚ
Photo: Credit: Gregory Shummon/Cinemax