Talking RAY DONOVAN with Octavius J Johnson
RAY DONOVAN airs another all new episode tonight that continues the great season that we’re seeing – Marvin Gaye Washington (Octavius J Johnson) is back and he spent some time chatting with My Take on TV about what’s coming next, and what he’d love to see down the line!
The big question I had, how did you get involved in the show – classic audition process? How did you get involved?
My agents sent me out on the audition – I went in an auditioned like any other audition and I was lucky! I’m very fortunate to have been on the show for two years; it’s been great. Working with a lot of great people and learning so much.
When I watch the show, yes there are big names and names that are new to the business. But everyone works well together; it seems like you have known each other for years.
That’s John Papsidera’s fault – he’s the casting director [laughs]. He’s good. Look at his IMDB page; he has done a lot of casting and he just knows what he’s doing. It was great to work with him in the casting process. I even heard that “Ray,” LIev, also had some say in the final decisions, as far as casting, so that’s pretty cool to know, too. He thought I was worthy of being on the show.
Talk a bit about what we’ll see this season for Marvin?
Marvin Gaye is back! He’s back and he’s proud! He’s having fun, on a whole different level. He’s famous now. He’s a star; all the girls love him. Bridget doesn’t find that very exciting [laughs]. It becomes a real relationship there. She’s a little jealous. She can’t resist. He finally got a chance to talk to her, and she tried to act like she didn’t know who Marvin was. He’s like “you don’t remember, Marvin Gaye?” It’s a lot of Bridget and Marvin in this season. That love circles. It can get a little dangerous with Ray Donovan, between Ray Donovan and Marvin. Ray Donovan doesn’t like the guy so much and he came back. After Ray Donovan dropped him off in Compton, that’s a no-no. Marvin should know that!
I’m excited to see that explored – you and Kerris are great together!
Thank you, I’ll tell her you said that [laughs]. She’s great to work with. She’s very chill. She’s been doing this longer than I have. She’s been in the business for over 10 years, so she is a little genius there. It’s been great working with her. Learning a lot from her. I love her mom, too, she’s awesome. That’s where she gets that sweetheart from. I know her mom like that, and her dad and her sister, they’re all cool.
You mention learning a lot from who you’ve worked with – is there specific advice they’e given, or has it just been from watching them, and shooting with them?
Liev, for instance, I tell everyone this – he’s number one on the call sheet, and some people may take his focus the wrong way. I was like, can you imagine being number one on the call sheet? I want to be number one on the call sheet one day. He’s just so focused! He has no time! It’s so exciting for me. Sometimes I’ll have the first scene of the day, and the second, third, and back and forth, it’s nonstop. I’ll get to step, go into makeup, wardrobe, and they’re pulling me for rehearsal. Imagine that every day? It’s not like that every day for me because I”m an extension of the cast. Most of the time, I get there and I have an hour of waiting. He’s there immediately being pulled from place to place. It’s his professionalism, his focus, I really look up to that. And Jon, his performance says it all. I just watch him and I learn so much. Pooch, the first time I met him, he gave me really good advice about his experience. He told me his experience being part of THE GAME, and I didn’t know about that until he told me; it wasn’t one of the shows that I watched. He gave me some insight on people, and he was just like “Make the right decisions for yourself in this business; what feels right” so that was great advice. The list goes on and on.
I have hopes for where everything goes – do you have something you’d love to do as Marvin?
They’re pretty flexible with my improvisation. I think that’s all I do [laughs]. I just love to improvise. When I come up with an idea, they’re like “Okay, try that. Try that, but let’s also do what’s on the page.” I just love improvisation. It’s so fun, and it’s what acting is. I get to do that a lot and I’m grateful that I get to do that.
It helps to make it more relaxed on set – you do what’s on the paper, and they’re willing to let you try other things.
Yes, you’re right! If there is anything I want to see Marvin Gaye Washington do? I’d love for him to have maybe a concert! He doesn’t have one this season. That would be cool. Get 100s of people and me actually perform the song.
Talking about the music part of it – is that an ultimate goal for you? Is that where you see yourself as well?
I really like the acting thing; it’s really fun. I grew up in the church, being around Gospel, I kind of learned music. I love music and I do want to sing and make music. I want to be known as an actor that sings. I want my career to be acting and also make music, to sell records as well. I always imagined myself traveling and doing concerts.
Was there a moment where you thought “I want to do this,” as far as acting goes, or was it just a feeling?
It became something I wanted to do after I was in the high school plays. I was in RENT and ONCE UPON A MATTRESS and I did THE SPELLING BEE. It wasn’t easy getting me in these plays. It was funny – all my life I wanted to be a police officer, then I wanted to be a lawyer, and a doctor. It just so happened that my friends were like, we know you can sing, you should be in this musical. It was like, no, I was always an underachiever in school – I wanted to have fun, make jokes in class. I was the class clown. I just gave it a try, and I was like, wow. Just the rush that I felt, it was really fun. I’ve stuck to it since high school. As far as actors that inspire me, I love Daniel Day Lewis. He is just incredible. I would love to be an actor like him. And Meryl Streep – they’re both actors that become their parts. MAN ON FIRE and TAKEN, I’d love to do things like that some day.
You said you wanted to be a police officer, a doctor, a lawyer – being an actor, you could have the chance to be all three.
Wow, that’s a great point! [laughs] I was just talking to someone about this. I went paint balling a few days ago – I turned 20 and my episode aired on my birthday. Thank you Showtime! I met this lady that does contracts for the government and that’s all she could tell me. It was like, don’t worry, I’ll find out what you do someday, I’m an actor. When I play a role like that they’ll tell me everything.
So many shows are covering the different worlds – the docs, the lawyers. I also think that’s why RAY DONOVAN stands out to me, because it’s doing something different that we haven’t seen explored while you still have the classic doctor/lawyer shows.
I think it’s doing a great job – what it is is like SCANDAL. Look how successful SCANDAL is. For it to be on Showtime, where we can do a lot more and say a lot more. It’s cool to be another successful show. The fixer thing is hot right now.
Do you have favorite shows that you watch each week?
I love BATES MOTEL. Ooh! Freddie Highmore is just spectacular. I remember in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – he’s great. It’s encouraging to see the costars that he acts with. The new girls – they’re like 7 and 8. It’s encouraging to me, because I’m also up and coming. It’s cool to see that his costars are doing other movies, now. It’s encouraging for an newcomer like me to see that there are opportunities. Hopefully this can lead to something else, too.
Showtime has been really supportive of the show. More people are watching, critics are responding, not just to Liev, not just to Jon.
I’m just really honored to be a part of this next generation. I was looking at this article, it had Dayo, he was in THE HUNGER GAMES, it had the up and coming, next generation, and it was like, “wow, I’m going to be a part of that?” I better do a good job and keep up.
And there are so many outlets that are available, that people can explore. TV isn’t just on TV. Movies aren’t just in the theaters. There are so many different roles. It’s an exciting time.
Wow! Yeah! I love TV. I would love to do a miniseries. Time to film, 6 months, then you’re off for 6 months. That’s like my dream.
When people ask why they should watch RAY DONOVAN, what are you telling them?
I think why anyone should watch this show – it’s exciting. It has everything the great shows have, like BREAKING BAD – it’s nothing like this show, but it’s so successful. And THE WALKING DEAD, I watch both of those shows, back to the question of what I watch. I watch everything. All of those shows – it has this different element. It’s dark, it has comedic moments. I think it’s real. It’s relatable to what goes on out there. People would want to know what happens in Hollywood. It’s great acting, great writing, and I think it’s a diverse show. I love the sub stories – what it stems from with the Catholic church – that’s a strong, sensitive topic. It’s not just for entertainment – it’s about something other than entertainment.
RAY DONOVAN airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on Showtime.