At the Los Angeles premiere of Starz' new series "Magic City," the cast and creators had reason to celebrate: the show got a second season renewal two and a half weeks before its April 6 premiere. "I'm a little bit stunned," admitted Jeffrey Dean Morgan, profiled here. "It's a vote of confidence to have that before we've aired an episode. It doesn't happen very often and I don't mind being on this side of things. It's nice."
Series creator Mitch Glazer echoed that sentiment. "Such a validation is always thrilling," said the writer/producer, a Miami native whose experiences working at the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach in 1973 ("I started as a janitor and got a promotion to cabana boy") inspired the series, which is set a few decades earlier at the end of the '50s. He cast his wife of 20 years, Kelly Lynch, as the sister of hotel owner (played by Morgan) Ike Evans' late wife, and raves both about her acting and her commitment to cleaning up the planet. "Whenever we walk she picks up garbage. Tons of garbage would have been there in Los Feliz if it weren't for Kelly Lynch. She's obsessive. If I put trash in the wrong thing she lets me have it," said Glazer.
"I put on latex gloves and pick up garbage in the street," confirmed Lynch. "One time in Martha's Vineyard we collected 35 bags of garbage that had washed up on the beach. I've been doing it since I was a kid." In "Magic City," "my character is a very wealthy heiress, no children, no parents. Just said goodbye to her latest husband. She's well educated, smart, super powerful. She's comfortable with her sexuality. And I have the best wardrobe," she added, crediting the costume designer. "Maybe I can borrow some of it."
Olga Kurylenko, who plays Evans' current wife Vera, also loves her '50s costumes. "My character is very glamorous. I would totally dress like that today. I kept asking the wardrobe girls, 'Can you make me another one?'" She also enjoyed working on location in Miami. "You go to work, you come back and go to the beach and swim, read your script on the beach or on the balcony with a breeze, listening to the water. What could be better?" Perhaps making a movie with Tom Cruise: She plays an astronaut in the sci-fi flick "Oblivion," now shooting, and has "Seven Psychopaths," "Empire of the Deep," "The Expatriate," and an untitled Terrence Malick movie awaiting release.
Steven Strait portrays Evans' playboy son Steven, and relishes his complexity and "all the personas that he puts on for everybody. He has flaws, he's always in shades of gray and that's a lot of fun creatively. He's always on the precipice of falling into something awful." He did extensive research about the time period, and loved getting into the period clothes and cars — he drives a Corvette convertible in the show that he wishes he could have kept, though he doesn't own a car now. He gave up his hybrid when he and wife Lynn Collins ("John Carter") moved to his native New York City, where he takes public transportation. When he read the "Magic City" script, Strait was immediately drawn to the "incredibly rich, complex world. It was so relatable and original — stylish, sexy and smart. And to be a part of something that incredible has really been a dream and a creative challenge."
Fellow New York resident Yul Vazquez also goes carless: "I ride a bicycle," says the actor, who plays Victor Lazaro, the general manager, best friend and right hand man to Evans at the Miramar Playa. "The show is very accurate to its period, what was happening at the time from the revolution in Cuba and the Cold War to the changing landscape of Miami with Cuban immigrants and the organized crime element," he said, and he should know: he was born in Cuba and raised in Miami Beach, where he keeps an apartment, by a mother who arrived with him and his sister in 1969, leaving his father behind in Cuba. "I was there in December and it's a mess," he said with dismay. "The revolution was not a triumph for Cuba. It was once the French Riviera of the Caribbean and that's pretty much gone. It's crumbling."
Dominik Garcia-Lorido, who plays Lazaro's daughter Mercedes, employed as a hotel maid and involved with Evans' son Danny (Christian Cooke), shares that Cuban-American history. "My parents came over in 1964 when they were two and five," said the daughter of actor Andy Garcia. "My character came over pre-revolution. It's great to be portraying what was going on in Miami," she reflected, adding that as someone who lives in sweats, shorts and T-shirts, she found the constricting '50s wardrobe "gorgeous but I'd rather look at it than wear it. Fortunately, I wear a uniform most of the time in the show, and that's a little more comfortable." She grew up recycling at home and started acting from a young age, first as a hobby, "and then it just evolved." She starred with her dad in "City Island," and has always taken his advice to heart. "He's told me to stay loose, focus on the work, and always be prepared."
"I walk everywhere. I'm a huge walker. I love to walk. Any time I don't have to get in my car, I don't," said Elena Satine, who chose a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood in car-centric Los Angeles so she could do her errands on foot. She's been in L.A. for about eight years total now but was born in Russia, moved to New York at age 11, and returned to Moscow to attend drama school, where her accent was "beat out of me." The role of escort Judi Silver is her first big break. "She's a really feisty, smart and independent woman and what I love about her so much is in a world where women were to be wives and mothers and not much else, this is a girl that's navigating this man's world all on her own. She's so smart and fearless. It's really wonderful to play someone as liberated as she is," said Satine, a redhead who wears a blond wig for the part, one she feels particularly suited for. "I grew up kind of obsessed with the '50s. I collected books and read a lot about it, everything from the fashions to the cars to the history. I would always feel I wish I'd been born around this time so when I got this job all my friends were like, 'How fitting.'" Once on set, she learned more from creator Glazer, and reveled in the period accoutrements. "The blond wig was a huge transformation for me and helped me get into character," she said, confirming an old Lady Clairol hair color ad slogan: "In Judi's case, blondes absolutely have more fun."
Photos: Jesse Grant for Getty/Starz