Get ready to see Jeffrey Donovan like you’ve never seen him before.
The Burn Notice and Fargo alum is about to star in Hulu’s original series Shut Eye, a darkly comedic look at the world of Los Angeles storefront psychics and the 2,000-year-old history of belief and fraud behind them. Donovan stars as Charlie Haverford, a con man psychic whose worldview is rocked when he begins to have real visions. But according to Donovan, who just finished a critically-loved run on Noah Hawley’s Fargo, he didn’t pick his next project based on the character of Charlie.
“I get attracted to story more than character,” Donovan said at the 2016 Summer TCA press tour. “You could have a bad character in a really good script and you want to be in that script. I just look for story.”
And that’s how he got involved in Fargo. “We all know how great Noah Hawley was in creating this world based on the Coen Brothers, so I knew if I didn’t f–k it up, I’d be a part of something great,” Donovan said. “It was a very easy decision. It was something very different from who I was. Noah was very sweet to allow me to create that guy, gain the 35 pounds, put on that accent, be this new guy.”
The same goes for Shut Eye. Donovan revealed he started to have conversations with Shut Eye creator/executive producer Les Bohem around Christmas.
“We just talked and skyped and the premise was really fascinating to me,” Donovan said. “It’s a world I haven’t seen on television or on platforms, or whatever you want to call it these days. The challenge with Charlie, he’s not a character that I’ve ever played before. He’s not the alpha in the room.”
According to Donovan, all the roles he’s ever played, from TV to movies, have been alpha male roles. “[Fargo‘s] Dod was the alpha in the room. [Burn Notice‘s] Michael Weston was the alpha in the room,” Donovan said. “When I was doing movies, they were all alphas. It’s been a very big challenge for me to play this type of character and I wanted that.”
And if the premise for the series sounds extremely unique, that’s because it is. Bohem knew there had never been a series set in this world before, and he was dying to get into it.
“What if a fake psychic became a real psychic? I loved the idea but I had no idea where to set it,” Bohem said of creating the show in its early stages. “I walked into a parlor in my neighborhood and had my palm read. Then I noticed there was one on every block, even in Beverly Hills where you can’t be making rent on a $40 tarot reading. When I started doing the research, the culture was just so rich and exciting.”
Donovan was eager to learn more about this world of psychics as well.
“You have really smart, educated people getting frauded,” he said. “It makes sense, because poor, uneducated people don’t have money to steal from. So who can tap into that weakness? I wanted to investigate that role. It’s a very strange world that these people live in and that’s what attracted me to the show. We’re all collaborating on how does a con artist con a con artist? It’s a very detailed, very pragmatic process. It is a very sophisticated way of planning how people are conned.”
Image: Getty Images
Shut Eye premieres Wednesday, Dec. 7 on Hulu.