Danny Huston is very good at playing bad in ‘Magic City’

Danny Huston lounges around as a Miami gangster on "Magic City." Credit: Starz
Danny Huston lounges around as a Miami gangster on “Magic City.”
Credit: Starz

Danny Huston’s acting career didn’t take off until he was nearly 40, but it was inevitable he’d get around to it sooner or later. After all, he comes from Hollywood royalty: His father John, grandfather Walter and half-sister Anjelica are all Oscar winners. (He has, however, been directing films and TV since he was in his 20s.) Having stolen scenes in “Birth,” “The Constant Gardener” and “The Proposition,” he can now be seen as fearsome gangster Ben “The Butcher” Diamond on the 1950s Miami show “Magic City,” which just began its second season on Starz.

What attracted you to your character?
There’s a fallen emperor quality about Ben Diamond, where he’s sort of biding his time — languishing around a pool, fulfilling his sexual depravity. But there’s also a shrewd businessman there, someone who wants to get things going. There’s a certain honesty to Ben Diamond, believe it or not. He is who he is. He’s not ashamed.

You’ve played villains before, but Ben seems to be the most villainous. Only your character in “The Proposition” is worse.
The key to playing a villain — and this might be obvious — is to find the humanity in them. Nobody regards themselves as villainous or all that bad. In the case of Ben Diamond, I thought I would give that up. [Laughs.] I would play him for the badass that he is. Somehow I find that endearing. In “The Proposition,” Arthur Burns has a similar quality, where in a way violence is almost like his mistress.

This is one of your only steady TV gigs. What made you want to work on television?
I worked with Tom Hooper on “John Adams,” as Samuel Adams. That’s when I realized there’s a real scope here, that you can actually tell your story. It’s not necessarily that three acts are limiting. There’s plenty of films made with the three-act structure. But there’s this room [in television] to tell a story that you can’t otherwise, possibly. Then I did [“Kevorkian”] with Al Pacino, and I realized there was this whole built-in audience. And to release something about Kevorkian theatrically, it would just be impossible.

TV acting is very different from film acting. What are some of the challenges to adjusting to it?
I find it very daunting; I feel like I’m losing control. I don’t quite know how to pace my performance — if I’m revealing too much or too little. It makes me unsteady. But I know that I’m in good hands. I know that I’m working with someone [showrunner Mitch Glazer] I respect. I’d hate to be in a different situation. The only thing I found tricky was changing directors. We’re all the same, but suddenly there’s one guy who’s the new guy.

Glazer is a longtime friend of yours. What is it like working with a pal?
I come from a family where we encourage nepotism. [Laughs.] So there’s nobody better to be working with family or friends. As long as you respect them, as long as you want to serve their vision, then it’s all good.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…