Liev Schreiber on Tough Upbringing: ‘I Had Such an Identity Crisis’

By Andrew Lampard

Sep 1, 2013 6:38am

In Showtime’s critically-acclaimed series, “Ray Donovan,” which the network is airing as a marathon this weekend, Liev Schreiber plays a tough Hollywood fixer. When a big star messes up, Ray is there to clean up the mess.

Schreiber, 45, like the character he plays on TV, was bred in a tough neighborhood. For him, it was New York City’s Lower East Side, circa the 1970s.

On Peter Travers’ ABC pop culture show, “Popcorn,” the actor, who has two children with longtime partner Naomi Watts, spoke of growing up in a squat and being raised by his mom, a single parent who drove a taxi. Some might call it a “hard” upbringing, but Schreiber likes to think of it as adventurous.

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Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Did it toughen him up? “That’s between me and my therapist,” said Schreiber. “But I think the thing that I am most grateful for about it, is I think — I had such an identity crisis growing up as a child, that it made me a wonderful candidate for the theater.”

“You mean massive schizophrenia,” added Travers.

“That’s right, basically massive schizophrenia,” said Schreiber.

In the video embedded above, Schreiber described how his experience as a Lower East Side loner helped him become an actor. Paradoxically, he says that the craft of observing others as an actor removes actors from the people they study.

For the full interview – half-acting clinic/half-therapy session — click here.

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