3 Reasons to Love Liev Schreiber as 'Ray Donovan'

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Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan and Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan in Ray Donovan (Season 1, Episode 1). - Photo: Suzanne …

Reviews have been mixed for Showtime's new series "Ray Donovan," but one thing critics and viewers can agree on is Liev Schreiber's talent. The successful movie actor has finally brought his skills to the small screen, and it's been a smooth transition. His complex portrayal of Ray, a Hollywood "fixer" with family troubles, gives us compelling reasons to tune in every week.

1. Hotness: Let's be right up front about this. Schreiber is an attractive guy. He's tall, handsome, and has a deep, silky voice that can make a girl swoon. In "Ray Donovan," he gets to be smart, powerful, and sarcastically funny -- and he wears it well. Even costar Jon Voight called his onscreen son "sexy" in his new TV role.

Schreiber's often been given the "Other Guy" roles -- important but one-step-back parts opposite heartthrobs like Hugh Jackman ("Kate & Leopold," "Wolverine"), but this time he's the welcome center of attention. Comments on Twitter included plenty of praise like "Checking out Ray Donovan. Trying to pay attention but Liev Schreiber is too hot!" and a viewer at TVLine labeled the actor "one of my top celebrity crushes, one of the sexiest men on the planet."

2. Likability: Ray is not a perfectly admirable character. He commits acts of violence, intimidates people for a living, and cheats on his wife. In order to stick with this guy for a full series, all of us at home watching have to like him despite his flaws. Schreiber does well with limited dialogue, still managing to convey a certain stoic charm, often seeming just a breath away from a sly smile and a wink. You know the guy's got you hooked when you're cheering him on for viciously breaking his slimy client's hand.

Robert De Niro and Glenn Close are two actors who are experts at managing to make viewers feel empathy for even the most despicable characters. Schreiber follows that same path, conveying through the subtlest shifts in his expressions and body language the pain of his past, the diehard love for his family, or his sudden sympathy for a blackmailer who's a victim herself. Characters we can't feel for become lifeless caricatures, but the actor here gives us peeks into the psyche of our anti-hero, encouraging fans to care about what happens next.

3. Believability: Ray is a guy whose success largely depends on being a scary guy, which can help him get rid of problem people without having to resort to stronger measures. Schreiber has the right physical presence to carry this off, and despite his likability, those narrowed eyes and frightening intensity make it easy to believe that his targets would be terrified of him on sight. His cool manner when carrying out those stronger measures is also convincingly chilling.

The success of the character also depends on how believable it is that people would put their jobs, reputations, or lives in the hands of Ray. The actor's soothing, steady voice and totally-in-control demeanor works perfectly. As a reader at SpoilerTV put it, "I liked the chillax feeling Ray D was giving this whole episode. it's like, 'Whatever, I'll handle it.'" Like with Detective Sipowicz on "NYPD Blue" or Michael Westen on "Burn Notice," viewers totally trust that Ray is going to make everything OK.

What do you think, Yahoo! TV readers? Does the hunky actor's performance have you tuning in for more "Ray Donovan"?

New episodes air Sundays at 10 PM on Showtime.

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