Tomorrow night, a familiar face returns to Ray Donovan's life: the beautiful and troublesome Ashley Rucker, played by actress Ambyr Childers. To examine what brings her back to the Showtime series, Ambyr sat down with us on Friday, giving some insight into tomorrow's episode and dishing about what the show is like behind the camera.
Was she expecting to get the call for season two? "Yes and no," she said. "I think maybe initially when writing it, they just planned for Ashley to be in season one. But after we filmed it...I don't think they expected the character to come across the way [she] did. She's definitely a special character in the show. She stands out. She's Ray's Kryptonite.
"They made it work," she continued, "and [series creator] Ann [Biderman] is so genius and I'm so, so lucky to be working with her. She's just smart."
So we know how Ambyr came back to Ray Donovan, but what makes Ashley relevant again? "Basically, Ashley comes back into Ray's life and she asks him to help her with a new boyfriend, Steve Knight," Ambyr explained. "He's a self-help guru. We kind of learn [that] he has some anger management issues that he has to deal with. You have this guy that's going on stage, preaching to everybody how to be a better person...and you just see that he's completely off his rocker and you learn that very quickly."
But just because she's a taken woman, don't expect Ashley to stay away from the one man she's not supposed to have. "Even though she's with this guy," she added, "she's still extremely attracted to Ray."
"It's special and it's set a really high standard for me, I feel like, in terms of just the quality and the people that I work with," the actress reflected. "Ray Donovan is just one of those shows that, everybody clicked instantly...When you're working with other really creative artists, it doesn't make your job hard. It inspires you. You work harder. Everyone's there, you're united."
Playing in the underbelly of Los Angeles is not that different for Ambyr, whose feature film experience has included a lot of recent stories about tough guys in dark places, with supporting roles in Gangster Squad, Broken City, and 2 Guns. Asked which part she's been the most proud of, "I would have to say The Master," she told us. "I worked with Philip Seymour Hoffman a few years back, and he was just such a phenomenal actor.
"I feel so fortunate to be able to work with him and [director] Paul Thomas Anderson and Amy Adams, who I look up to so much as an actor and as a mother, she's just an all-around phenomenal person. That's one film that I feel like some people might find it hard to watch, but just to watch Philip - you realize what a great, beautiful person he was."
Her next project will bring her back to television. "Right now, I'm working on a new show for NBC called Aquarius," Ambyr told us, and that means she's sinking her teeth into another complicated story. In the David Duchovny-led drama centered on the pursuit of Charles Manson, she'll be playing Manson follower Susan Atkins.
"She was the one who was responsible for like seven of the killings," the actress explained. "She was crazier than Charlie. It's the darkest character I have ever played. It's a really great show, and we have great writers." Aquarius is scheduled to debut on NBC in 2015.
No matter what the story entails, this still ascending actress is ultimately focused on becoming the best performer she possibly can. "I just want to keep working with great directors and people that are really great, talented artists. Just to keep challenging myself," Ambyr said. "I feel like if you get into a stale place or you don't have that burning desire anymore, you know when it's happened...I want to keep working on my craft and working on my instrument."
With her combination of beauty, brains and charisma, it's no wonder why Ray Donovan can't forget her. Don't miss Ambyr in tomorrow night's episode of Ray Donovan, entitled "Viagra," airing at 9 PM ET'/PT on Showtime.