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An exclusive interview with Antony Starr for season two of 'Banshee'

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Cinemax's pulp drama "Banshee" returns for its ten-episode second season tonight, starring Antony Starr as an ex-con and master thief who has taken over the identity of Lucas Hood, a newly hired sheriff of Banshee, Pa., who is killed-- but not by the man who assumes his identity.

Even though he represents law and order in the town of Banshee, Lucas continues his criminal activities. But his real reason for being in Banshee is the woman he loves [Carrie/Anna played by Ivana Milicevic] and his partner in crime -- for who he spent 15 years in prison without ever revealing her identity.

When Lucas' teenage daughter's life is in jeopardy -- she doesn't know he is her dad -- he puts his life on the line to rescue her. That puts his face on the news, where he is seen by Carrie's father, a gangster who has been searching for the two for years -- and now that he has found Lucas and Anna, he headed into Banshee with the resulting big shootout, which served as the Season 1 finale.

Examiner.com exclusively spoke to Starr about Lucas Hood and the second season of "Banshee." Check out the interview below.

It was really nice how everyone came together at the end of Season 1 to rescue Lucas, despite all the problems with his methods of law enforcement. Can you talk a little bit about the relationships?

I think one of the fundamental themes running through the show is, basically, everyone wants to be a part of something. We all need to belong. Lucas gets out of prison and the only way to resume being human, as opposed to an animal, is to reconnect with the one person that's loved him and been a safe place.

I think one of the great things about the way that the season ended, is that, he's someone that's felt extremely isolated and outside of any community. By the end of it, without even realizing it, although they have doubts about his methods, he's grown on people to the extent that there is a loyalty in place, that they will come together. He's part of a community without realizing it.

Lucas starts as someone who's basically trying to get what's his. It's all very self-motivating, very selfish. By the end of it, he's putting himself in harm's way. So, there's massive, internal growth in the character as well, through the series. I think that rings true. That sense of community is something that's following through into Season 2, as well.

We're deepening those relationships. I think it's important that we maintain that because, at heart, I've never looked at this show as an action show. I see it as a drama with action on top. I think if you start looking at it in terms of an action show, then we're going to lose a lot of the core relationships and characters that are really the engine of the show.

We also found out that Lucas is a dad and he's very protective of his new-found daughter. Can you talk about where he gets his paternal instinct?

I don't know. We've all, somewhere along the line, got a dad. You know, good or bad, present or absent. I'm very fortunate to have a great family. To a large extent, the character, doesn't have a clue about being a dad.

So I don't really need to know how to be a dad and I haven't got kids. My inability to deal with a child in real life is probably similar to his inability to [deal with] the new responsibility that's being placed on him, or the idea of that responsibility.

I think there's a loyalty and an honor that would come from a paternal drive, but I don't think it's a conscious decision. It's just something that's in his character. Lucas isn't someone that was outright bad, who went to prison and just got badder. He is a reasonably good person, a thief, but heart in the right place-ish.

He went to prison and through 15 years of isolation and, basically, being screwed over and being under threat, it changed him into something that's more animalistic and a much more dangerous creature. I think that even back in the flashback scenes, you see the loyalty that he has to the Anna character.

In Season 2, the real sheriff's son may come to town, and there will be a special investigation into what happened. Why doesLucas stay?

You don't have to know why. We don't know why we do things sometimes. We all run around and we act, and then we go, "Oh, I shouldn't have done that." I think it is one of those things.

One, he's got nowhere else to go. Two, I think, coming out and being in this position, after 15 years being in prison, his default setting is under threat and he's ready to fight, ready to defend. So you come out into the normal world and what do you do in the straight world after that? Being in the normal world and having no threat is an uncomfortable position for him to be in.

So it speaks from a character point of view as well. Keeping that threat level up is actually ... it keeps him alive, it keeps him on edge, it keeps him in that comfort zone that he's used to.

Season 1 was also about reformation. For Lucas, it was very much about coming out and getting what's mine. Let's not forget that he basically commits suicide at the end of the first series by swapping himself out for Anna's son. He knows what's coming. He's basically giving up his life and then he goes unconscious, wakes up and a community of people have come together to save him.

For someone that's never been a part of anything that would be difficult to walk away from. It's not just about Anna anymore. The whole thing has opened up. He's got a daughter, while he might not know how to react to that or what the right thing is to do, he is intrigued and wants to do the right thing. The idea of being part of a family, that dream of having a family is one step closer with a daughter. There's a lot of reasons for him to stick around.

How comfortable is Lucas keeping his secret identity?

We all assume an identity on a day-to-day basis. People work in an office. When they go home, they sit on the couch and they've got their hand down their pants, they watch the TV, they burp, they fart, they become someone completely different from when they're in a work setting or around other people.

It's absurd to think that anyone would ever get away with this. So, right away we're in a heightened reality. Let's establish that first. This is definitely not real and that's kind of a wink straight away to the audience. If you're going to buy into the show, you've got to buy into the non-reality that someone would be able to really pull this off.

Once we get into the role, let's say, of becoming the sheriff, you get to a point where it just becomes the norm. After a while, Lucas has got to watch his back and be careful. But anyone doing anything day in and day out, for any length of time, you're not walking around on eggshells constantly.

Another thing that's very appealing are the sex scenes. They're pretty graphic. Are you comfortable with that? Why do you think it is important to the character?

I have never been, never will be, and never could be comfortable doing those things. It's excruciating doing that. We're very fortunate that everyone's grown up and we sort of get in and get on with it, and try and keep a relaxed atmosphere about it.

"Banshee" premieres its second season on Friday, January 10 at 10 p.m. on Cinemax.

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