"I recycle. I'm going to put solar on my house in upstate New York. I have a little boy and I want to do it for him," says Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who returns to TV in the Starz drama "Magic City," premiering April 6 after a sneak preview March 30 following the season finale of "Spartacus: Vengeance." Known for his roles in films like "Watchmen," "The Losers" and "P.S. I Love You" and TV series "Supernatural" and "Grey's Anatomy," Morgan plays Miami hotel owner Ike Evans in the drama set at the beginning of 1959.
"The first impression we have of Ike is that he's on top of the world. He owns the gem of Miami Beach that he built from nothing. He is married to the most beautiful woman in the world. He's got a family that he loves and adores more than anything. But behind closed doors there are problems. He has made a deal with the devil in order to create and build his dream. And it's going to bite him in the *ss." That devil takes the form of mobster Ben Diamond (Danny Huston), whose largesse comes at a price. "We spend a lot of time in the first season with Ike trying to figure out how he can break this deal. He's going to do whatever he has to do to survive and keep his dream intact. And that means he goes to places that you wouldn't think he would."
Morgan was attracted to the script, those involved on both sides of the camera, and the chance to do something very different from anything he'd previously done. "It was time to do something more sophisticated and grown up and this was such a great opportunity to do that. He's a suit-and-tie guy, which is not me, or any character I've ever played. This guy oozes a charm and a sense of class that I've never had the opportunity to play, which is an interesting and fun experience. I cover a lot of ground with this character," he continues. "It's kind of the joy of playing him and the beauty of doing a long-form thing, instead of trying to cram it all into a two-hour movie. I get eight episodes this year to flesh it out."
To research the role, Morgan read a bit about the period, particularly about the Mafia and CIA presence in Miami at the time, but mostly gained insights by hanging out with show creator Mitch Glazer, who grew up in Miami and based the series on his experience working at the Deauville Hotel in summers during college. "But for me, walking onto those sets in those costumes put me right into Ike Evans mode in that time period," he says.
Shooting on location in Miami helps set the mood as well, says Morgan, who was new to the city. "I love the restaurants, I love the weather. I love the beach and the ocean. But I'm not a fan of the humidity. A lot of the suits that I wear are really from that period that have been tailored to fit me but they are wool and they don't breathe. And I tend to sweat quite a bit."
Before starting work on season two of "Magic City," which already received a renewal order, Morgan will shoot the movie "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," and he has several films in the can: "Possession," "Peace Love and Understanding" and "Red Dawn."
"I love doing film because you don't get bored as an actor. You get to do different characters," he points out, adding that Ike Evans proved the exception to his rule. "I could do this character forever."
More "Magic City" next week when we report from the Hollywood red carpet premiere.